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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

What it means to be a good man: Finding the balance

<e are so many characteristics that go into being labeled a good man that it is near impossible to find a universal definition.  Many cite factors that seem fairly evident – loyalty, friendship, kindness – all of which I believe are important, but when I think of a good man the main determinant I see is balance.

Here at Carleton, we can see this principle everywhere.  Everyone is good at something, and that warrants praise, but I do not believe it should be the only feature in judging the quality of someone.  Too often people can develop tunnel vision – they only focus on one facet of their life.  The football player who works out all the time, ignores his studies and alienates himself from any potential friends is missing out on the big picture.  Similarly, one who spends every waking hour in the library studying and isn’t involved in any extracurricular activities is also losing out.  Sports and studies are obviously not the only things in college; any kind of activity can be judged in the same light.

This principle of balance goes far beyond a college campus.  In the real world, the businessman tied to his job, working 80 hours a week and ignoring his family is missing out on quite a bit.  Providing for a family is an incredibly important part of life, but it is not the sole aspect.  A well-balanced man spends substantial time with his family and friends, works hard and is an active member of the community; I would call this a good man.  Sometimes people can lose sight of this, and focus in on one thing in their life, sacrificing the welfare of all the other aspects.

Passion and determination are great – they are the driving forces behind some of the greatest things this world has ever seen, but there is a difference between these and obsession.  One who diversifies their interests will inevitably have a better view of their world.

In the big picture, the same is true for personality traits.  If someone is one of the most loyal people you know, but lacks common courtesy, he will be viewed in a much different light than someone who possesses both.  Similarly, the guy who brings a room to life, but is a complete jerk, is selling himself short.  Granted, these are kind of hard to visualize – an engaging man being a jerk – but it gets back to the points that so many have made about what it takes to be a good man: loyalty AND friendship AND kindness AND many more factors.  It takes more than just one of these characteristics to be a good man.

-Ted Longabaugh is a third-year student.

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