Si Vales, Valeo
Thank you for your kind email. That is a good question, and I am glad that my writings inspired you to reach out with it.
Character becomes apparent during times of great difficulty, it is true. It is a difficult thing to judge, and for that reason the Order of Thelemic Knights membership is only available by invitation. The period in which a Squire spends working with us is one of mutual evaluation. We get to see the development of the Squire’s character (to include understanding, respect, reverence, etc.), and they get to observe if we walk our own talk. All teaching is a two-way street. Often, by observing our Squires, we discover that we could be doing a little better in some areas, and if that Squire passes all the tasks assigned to them, someone will invite them to the Knighthood where they can implement those changes if they are truly for the best, following proper channels.
So, today character is often defined by very superficial attributions, such as one’s clothing, whether they have tattoos and/or their employment/career choices. Very rarely do they get past those impressions to see how a person conducts themselves. A person may look poor, use improper language, or use their bodies as maps to proudly show the journey of their lives through tattoos or other markings. But you put that person in the right circumstances, with the right people, and he or she adapts to social circumstance and displays the nobility they hide inside with the finesse of a Nobleman or Noblewoman.
There is that part of us which remains consistent throughout, and it always comes back to center. That part we cannot change: we are what we are. Everything we do or say is in some way dedicated to the survival of our physical bodies, which often includes fitting in. It is a form of self-preservation. But in the right circumstances, that person’s true character will show if it is introduced to an environment where it must be exercised.
It is a human thing that we should adapt to whatever environment we may be in. Our character is affected by circumstance, such as our mood swings, and social interaction. A man with character may easily say one thing, then do another, then beat himself up for betraying himself and his ideals. Another man might do the same thing and be totally comfortable with it. Both men are being honest. Therefore, you must be a good judge of character.
What matters to us, is what is inside the person when they are accepted only for the substance of their virtue, the work they are willing to do for our shared ideals and their reverence, for that being inside that is trying to bust out.
Can character be faked? Of course, it can. After all, you can only judge it according to your OWN character. Therefore, it is very important to develop that virtue in one’s self. All of that said, I will bring your attention to the following jewel of wisdom from our own Book of The Law, Chapter II: 58, which states:
58. Yea! deem not of change: ye shall be as ye are, & not other. Therefore the kings of the earth shall be Kings for ever: the slaves shall serve. There is none that shall be cast down or lifted up: all is ever as it was. Yet there are masked ones my servants: it may be that yonder beggar is a King. A King may choose his garment as he will: there is no certain test: but a beggar cannot hide his poverty.
Let’s be honest about human nature. We almost always expect the worst. Most people can’t wait to judge and gossip. They lift themselves up by putting others down. We are terrible judges. We view suspicion as guilt in the absence of evidence to support our claims. We use prejudice to isolate and distance ourselves from people when it benefits us socially, as in group-think. Consider the so-called “proud boys” as an example. Any excuse to justify our own pettiness and unwillingness to show charity and respect. This is the modus operandi of humans. For anything else we must be willing to work. To dig deep and invest in ourselves and others. We must resist judgement of this kind, because it has nothing to do with our subject’s character, but our own.
Keeping this in mind, I choose to exercise judgement of character as if it were love. To paraphrase some good advice from an old holy book:
Judgement is patient and kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it is understanding of circumstances. It does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Its purpose is to protect, assumes and hopes for the best. Always striving for the truth. When motivated by the right Spirit, judgement never fails. But where there are expectations, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
I apologize for waxing on the philosophical as much as I have. And thank you for your indulgence.