Tuesday, August 30, 2005


"I don't know why they call it 'childishness' when it is adults that are doing most of it," I wrote to a friend on a Rootsweb List yesterday. A List is a home for group of people who are interested in a particular surname or area. Usually the people on the Lists are jointly working on some project that is mutually interesting or beneficial. Thus, they are supportive.

But once in a while (three years for the case in point) someone gets on a List and stirs up a hornet's nest, usually with caustic remarks. Then he takes great pains to spell every word correctly and use good punctuation as he says the most unkind things to people he does not even know.

It is like the man or woman who is generally kind and courteous until he or she gets behind the steering wheel of a car, inside that protective shell of steel and glass, and can drive away from problems that occur. That is the time when a person's real character becomes evident. Sometimes that otherwise courteous person is raging, rude, and intolerant. It may be because there is no accountability.

Recently former congressman J. C. Watts said, "Character is what you do when you are alone." He was quoting someone else; the expression is older than he is. But it is a good expression used by thoughtful people.

Being alone or being protected by the steel shell of an automobile or hiding behind the anonymity on the Internet are about the same things. That is when true character shows itself.

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