A good moral character is the most precious asset a person possesses. It determines whether he can be successful or not and is the best assistance one can have in life.
“To speak in a mean [that is the mean or middle style more appropriate to prose], the virtue of prosperity is temperance, the virtue of adversity is fortitude, which in morals is the more heroic virtue.” — Francis Bacon
People with great virtue and moral character are always blessed. During World War II, during a day of heavy snow, General Eisenhower received an important order and traveled in a hurry on the snowy road at night. On the way, he discovered an old couple sitting trembling on the roadside because of the cold. He felt sympathetic toward them so he stopped and went to speak to them to see if they were all right. It turned out that the couple was going to their son’s home in Paris, but their car had broken down in the bad weather. Since they were stuck in the middle of nowhere, they could only wait until someone came to rescue them. General Eisenhower immediately asked the driver to send the old couple to Paris. Later on, he found out that the enemy had an ambush arranged on his original route. By changing his plans, he escaped. The general sighed: “I thought it was me who saved the French couple. Now I realized it was them who saved me!”
“A good moral character is the first essential. It is highly important not only to be learned but to be virtuous.” — George Washington
A person with great moral character can benefit others and is trustworthy. On the contrary, a person with poor moral character can be harmful and could possibly lose opportunities. Once, there was a young man applying for the position of sales representative. He did very well in all aspects during the interview and had great eloquence, receiving positive feedback from many bosses. Someone asked him what his best and most satisfying selling experience was. He happily stated that once he had sold a set of intellectual development courses costing $5,000 to a janitor whose monthly salary was only $2,000. Since the janitor’s child was just 5 years old, he desperately hoped his child could be successful in the future and wanted to invest in that. Using the man’s concerns, the young man took away two and a half months’ salary from the janitor. After hearing this story, many bosses, including those who were thinking about hiring him, shook their heads. One of the bosses commented: “I do not doubt your ability, but I am concerned about your moral character.”
“Without great character, there would be no great person, not even a great artist, a great actor.” — Romain Rolland
Chen Hsien-Mei, a woman who was nearly 60 years old, was once a nobody who collected scraps for living. One day in October 2011, in Foshan, Guangdong Province of China, she came across a 2-year-old girl, Yueh Yueh. The little girl was run over by two cars one after another. For more than five minutes, 18 people passed by, but none of them came to help. Only Chen Hsien-Mei came to offer a hand to send the girl to the hospital. Although the girl did not survive, people were all impressed by the good deed of the old lady. Later on, she was sick and went to the hospital. It turned out that she needed expensive surgery. When she was in the hospital, the chief of the hospital recognized her from her good deed in trying to save the little girl. In order to show his respect to the old lady, the hospital did not charge her any fees for the operation.
There is a Chinese story about how the Buddhist abbot Master Huei-Tung selected his successor. In order to decide who was qualified to be the next Buddhist abbot, Master Huei-Tung called two of his disciples, Chih-Neng and Wen-Yuan, and gave each of them a bag of paddy seeds. Master Huei-Tung said to them that when it reached harvest time, the one who had the most amount of grains would be the next Buddhist abbot. When the harvest season arrived, Chih-Neng brought a great number of grains, whereas Wen-Yuan brought nothing. Master Huei-Tung asked him the reason. Wen-Yuan was embarrassed, saying that he did not grow the paddy rice well and the paddy seeds did not even germinate. Master Huei-Tung laughed and immediately assigned Wen-Yuan to be the next Buddhist Abbot. Chih-Neng was not convinced and asked for the reason. Master Huei-Tung replied: “How can you grow cooked paddy seeds?” Chih-Neng blushed. Actually, Master Huei-Tung did not care if his disciples could grow the paddy seeds well, but only if they could be honest.
Translated by Sharon L and edited by Helen
Source: Secret China