Our society seems to prefer people who are characters rather that ones that have character. We want to be entertained, to hear gossip, to witness others defying rules that we are afraid to break. Men and women with character are admired, but considered bland. They do what they are supposed to do, stay cool-headed, and mind their manners. Typically, they don't even swear.
A young man wrote to an advice columnist about a woman he loved and wanted to marry. The woman was torn between him, an honest and hardworking guy on a career track, and a volatile ne'er-do-well whose affection for her was as unstable as his job history and mental condition.
Finally she chose the other guy and told her lovelorn second choice that, if she was ever in need, she knew she could count on him. Why, he wanted to know, would she consider him second choice when she knew he would be far more devoted and reliable?
Some women prefer the excitement of the unpredictable, the columnist answered. For what it was worth, she added that women who go the route of the lout often regret it later.
Men and women with character have the satisfaction of knowing they are doing the right thing, but they must avoid being sanctimonious. Fortunately, people with character usually have the maturity to avoid boasting about their diction and conduct.
The nonconformists and rule breakers prefer to be in the limelight. They take pride in their flippant or defiant attitude, and are more concerned about impressing people with their outrageous behavior. They flaunt their audacity and push the limits on what they can get away with. They are rebels, and they dare to be different, and for that they are often admired.
One of the most visible rebels with an attitude in the 1990s was basketball player Dennis Rodman. Rodman frequently got in scuffles on the court, was ejected for unsportsman-like conduct, missed games for unexplained reasons, swore in public rallies, and even wrote a biography proudly titled "Bad As I Wanna Be." He was an example of a manufactured personality, from the rainbow hair to the cross-dressing to his brief marriage to Carmen Electra. His antics and his verbal attacks on his own teammates got him kicked off the Los Angeles Lakers shortly after he joined the team, ending his basketball career.
The opposite of Dennis Rodman was his teammate on the Chicago Bulls, Michael Jordan. There was nothing boring about Michael. Which one gets the prize as the best role model?
You can create or fake a Bad Boy attitude without too much effort, but building character requires real work, sacrifices, and self-control. If you believe it takes guts to buck the trend and defy popular conventions, you're right, and that's exactly what people with character and principles have to do.