At the graduation ceremony of the American TFP’s Sedes Sapientiae Institute, Mr. Gustavo Solimeo delivered the opening remarks. The June 3 event was held at the TFP headquarters in Spring Grove, Penn. Mr. Solimeo, an Institute instructor, discussed what it means to be a man of character.
What is character? And what do we mean when we say of someone: he is a man of character?
When we meet someone who changes principles according to circumstances, we say he has no character. When we see someone who abandons a way of doing things, which is recognized as good, because he does not want to suffer the least pain, we say he has no character. When someone is weak-willed and insecure, we say that this is a person of weak character or even without character.
On the contrary, when we witness a principled young man who adheres to his ideals, whatever the circumstances, even when this represents sacrifices, we say that he is a young man of character.
So, what is character?
According to Bishop Tihamer Toth, the word character designates that state when the human will is fixed in the good. To have character means acting in accordance with our fundamental principles. It means making an effort to attain a noble conception of life.
Education plays a major role in the building of character. First, education allows us to find and develop noble principles. Then, with good habits and effort, we become accustomed to acting in all circumstances according to these principles.
The function of the educator is to establish firm convictions and build unshakable certainties.
This must be done in two ways, one positive, and one negative.
The positive way is to provide the elements for the formation of these convictions and the fundamentals of these certainties through study and habits.
The negative way is to eliminate the obstacles that hinder these convictions and certainties.
What are the obstacles facing young people today? The obstacles of our day can be summed up in one word: Relativism.
Relativism, as its name suggests, repudiates any truth or absolute value.
The world today is immersed in the culture of relativism. We no longer have certainties or values on which to base ourselves. Relativism causes us to lose our points of reference. Right and wrong are only vague concepts that vary from person to person, according to the circumstances and place.
The dictatorship of relativism is embedded in all fields:
- Philosophical relativism teaches that there is neither truth nor error; no beauty or ugliness;
- Moral relativism claims there is neither good nor evil;
- Religious relativism affirms there is no true religion, all religions are equal. Even atheism is of equal worth;
- Social relativism holds that it does not matter if couples are married. Marriage is no longer the union of a man and a woman, but it may be that of two persons of the same sex;
- Cultural relativism takes the denial of reality to the extreme. “Gender theory,” for example, denies the very biological fact that individuals are born male or female.
All these manifestations of relativism dominate the education of young people from an early age. They all prevent a man from becoming a man of character.