Thursday, 17 August 2023 13:55

A true test of character

Written by  Farmer's Chaplain Colin Miller
Farmer's Chaplain Colin Miller. Farmer's Chaplain Colin Miller.

OPINION: The Great Wall Of China is said to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

While I have not actually personally visited ‘The Wall’, I have seen quite a few pics and read up on many of its details.

Apparently, construction continued in one form or another for more than 2000 years, beginning somewhere in the 7th century BC. We can only imagine the details and planning that went into this over such a long period of time. Maybe the first 300 years were simply swallowed up getting all the necessary consents signed off – surely vital for such a vast undertaking!

The distance in total stretches across the historical borders of ancient Chinese states and Imperial China for something like 5000 miles.

Historians calculate around 400,000 to 500,000 workers died to build the thing, with some claiming many of those workers are actually buried in the wall itself.

Now, what was the purpose of the wall or the reason for its very construction? It was built for military reasons, to offer protection from the different armies that continuously invaded from the north.

From all that I have read, it was certainly a major deterrent to invaders.

That’s not hard to figure out! But at least on a couple of occasions, it offered no resistance at all. Armies simply rode right on through open gates without a “shot being fired”.

That begs the question then: How did the gates come open? In my younger years, when I was much less experienced with life and living, I’m not sure I would have arrived at the right answer, as quickly as I can now.

So, if you have been around for a bit – and have been able to glean some ‘people wisdom’ from your life’s journey to date – then my pick is you will probably figure out the answer to that question easily enough!

Too easy – surprise, surprise, they simply bribed the gatekeepers, or an officer with the clout to get the gates opened up. Yep, that’s right! Like I just said, too easy! Such a little, seemingly insignificant thing and so easily overlooked, but oh, so important.

They must have spent squillions in today’s equivalent! And all those long hours of labour and sweat, not to mention the folk that died on the job.

Yes, it all seemed worthy enough for them to put their trust in it.

I must admit, this story reminds me of one of my very favourite quotes: “Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder.” - Gen. George Washington.

What is Washington referring to with this comment? Character.

Hmmm… think about it for a moment. On at least a couple of invasions, that hugely daunting and impressive wall failed in its purpose, all because of a lack of character.

Character is not something that seems to be valued today as it used to be in times past. With marriage, sooner or later you wake up to the fact that beauty and charm tend to be fleeting. Eventually you find yourself married to character, or the lack of it!

In politics, if they were people of character, they would not promise what they have no intention of delivering on. Plus, politicians would keep their word, both privately and publicly. And all the spin doctors would be out of a job!

I have heard it asked, “But who can I trust?” My advice? Find something or someone, a little more trustworthy than a wall!

Take care and God bless.

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