Character Building Stories

( History and character education inspiration )

Often, we refer to well-known people from down the ages as historical characters or characters from history.

Very often, we realize that these people had little character. But history records them as immortal anyway. Not necessarily because of their strengths and skills, but because they happened to be in positions of power or were instrumental in bringing about events of historical significance.

However, reading history is bound to give us insights into characters, whether negative or positive, and that can be instrumental in helping us understand the importance of a strong, unflinching character.

We read of boy kings who built kingdoms with little except good advice and a small group of brave loyalists. We also read of brothers murdering each other to gain a throne. We hear of great famines while the governments fail to take note of the peoples’ hardships. We hear of culture and prosperity under the strong arm of a tolerant ruler. We hear of great wars fought for several years, even hundreds of years, on the strength of a belief. Also of ordinary people who gave up their lives willingly and became martyrs.

All of us read about and look upto people like Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru, Sarojini Naidu and other freedom fighters. We do not know them personally and we do not even have any character certificates issued in their name by our neighbours. In fact, we know that their personal lives may have been far from perfect. But we continue to look upto them because they displayed strength of character for, at least, one cause that they held above personal aspirations.

Similarly, characters like Ashoka or Akbar, or Shah Jehan or Rana Pratap are not known for being good necessarily. But they did deeds, which led to the creation of something great and beautiful. For that, they have their own place in history.

There are many lessons to learn from history and the characters of those who have been in power. We learn that greatness of character comes not only from power, but also tolerance and intelligence and culture. We see that the strongest are those who are the best loved. And we also learn that even the most hated characters will have some redeeming virtues, which helped them rise to the levels they did.

Author Annie Zaidi. Copyright 2004.

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