Character quotes should inspire us, but top quality, inspiring quotations are not always easy to find. Many websites offer collections of so-called character quotes, but not all that are included are about high moral values. They are not based on vital traits such as respect, responsibility, integrity, trustworthiness, patience, diligence, and love. They do not provoke us to build specific, positive qualities. So what should we demand from an online site that promises a collection of character quotes? How can we find the best?
What Good Quotations Are Not
Character quotes seem to abound on the Internet – at first glance. Look more closely, however, and you will find that the search engine’s returns are a mixed bag. Not all that parade as character quotes refer to high moral values.
These five negative tests will help you find good quotations. The good ones…
1….do not come from fictitious creatures. Mickey Mouse and other fictitious individuals are often quoted, but their words have nothing to do with moral values. They are character quotes in a different sense of the word. Discard them.
2….do not highlight immorality. Some include sayings that spotlight immorality. An Internet page promising character quotes gave one that denounced all of religion, calling it an insult to human dignity. The quotation said that it takes religion to make good people do bad things. Discard such quotations. They underscore immorality.
3….do not imagine morality. Quotations that do not refer clearly to a moral trait are unacceptable. Consider this line from Samuel Osgood: “I love a hand that meets my own with a grasp that causes some sensation.” We cannot imagine respect into this quotation, as the website does.
4….do not force political correctness. Some pedal political correctness as quotations on moral uprightness, presenting words such as those of Thich Nhat Hanh: “We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness.” Inclusion of such quotations pressures readers to accept politically, but not morally correct concepts. Beware.
5….do not sidestep moral issues. Counterfeit character quotes often evade issues. Example – General George S. Patton’s advice to tell people only what things to do, not how to do them. Follow that advice and people may surprise you with the results, Patton said. The surprise may be very low moral values, however. People may perform irresponsibly, or dishonestly. Words that fail to address issues do not qualify.
Quotations that are purportedly about moral uprightness are not always so. Test every quotation you find with the negative tests above.
What Good Quotations Are
Character quotes should be able to pass four positive tests, too. Websites should give you only those quotations that…
1….fit accurate definitions. To build love into your wall of high moral values, you want quotations that support the meaning of authentic love. You want a clear definition first that helps you grasp the full import of the word. Love is best defined as a trait that causes you to do what is best for the other person, so quotations about it must portray it that way.
2….focus on specifics. To find the best quotations, you will want to look for words that focus on specific moral values. Instead of combing through hundreds of uncategorized passages, look for websites that group quotations into individual trait categories: responsibility, respect, love, integrity, trustworthiness, etc. Obtuse categories such as business, karma, indifference, and the like make it difficult to zero in on a trait you want to build. Be sure character quotes relate to your specific topic.
3….express truth. Many character quotes in online collections consist of untruths. Think of the cliché claiming that athletics build high moral values. Many have voiced agreement with that cliché, but it simply is not true. Involvement in athletics reveals the strength of one’s morality, but it does not build morality. If football, baseball, and other sports built moral values, every professional player would be a highly virtuous person. We know they are not – so the cliché is untrue. Be sure the quotations you find express truth.
4….extol morality. Sham character quotes that speak negatively of high moral values are undesirable and serve only to depreciate. The website that includes one man’s evaluation that perfection is defective because it is dull is not extolling moral values. Were perfection one of the 66 traits (it is not), such depreciation would make it undesirable to readers. Test every quoted portion to see if it praises or deprecates. Look for character quotes that present traits as excellent and worthy of praise.
Character quotes should inspire us and provoke us to take positive action to build high moral values in our lives. Look well, and you will find those that do.