Great character quotes can help us all be better people each and every day.
Character is the one thing every decent human being has to hold on to. Life has all kinds of ups and downs, and there are many times when a person’s resolve to stand on principle will be tested. Often, we persevere, but there are times when desperation and outside influences might make us become tempted to do what is easy and expedient rather than what is just and right. This is where character quotes come in!
Most of us try to honor our character and our conscience in even the most difficult of circumstances, and some are better at it than others. However, we all have our trials and tribulations in life, and sometimes, especially in moments of deep stress, desperation, or human weakness, we can all use little reminders of what we really value and what we are really about. To that end, there’s nothing like some good character quotes from the giants among us, both past and present, to help us stand strong in the face of adversity.
Character Quotes That Will Inspire You
Plenty of everyday people say profound things. However, some of the most influential people in our society have been the ones with the most stellar of characters – the aforementioned “giants among us,” if you will. These are people who knew they could make a difference, and they went out and did so. It was not always easy, and many came from amazingly trying circumstances and overcame it all anyway. People like Oprah Winfrey, Martin Luther King, Jr., Barack Obama and others have amazing stories of tragedy and triumph, and often it is their character that helped them change the world. Therefore, naturally, some of the best character quotes imaginable came from them.
1. “Tell me with whom you walk, and I will tell you who you are.”– Esmerelda Santiago
Esmerelda Santiago is a Puerto Rican immigrant who moved to the United States in 1961 when she was thirteen years old. She has written several books on her coming into her own as a writer, as a woman, and as a human being. She is a wise and influential woman who values character deeply. That is why this quote made the number one spot on this list of character quotes.
Often, people push back against the idea of “guilt by association.” However, your character can be determined by those with whom you choose to associate. For instance, if you discover that someone you consider a good friend is a horrible racist and overlook that, that says something about your own issues with that subject matter. Further, your putting up with such horrible views in a so-called “friend” means that you are complicit through your silence.
On the other side of that, if you are able to tell that person how wrong they are and how you feel about their racism, that shows a strength of character and a willingness to stand on principle that often people cannot muster. If you can get over that sort of hill in life – and this can apply to anyone you discover is deeply problematic in some kind of truly profound way – that shows a character growth that will last a lifetime.
2. “When someone shows you who they are the first time, believe them.”– Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou was, of course, one of America’s premiere and most prolific civil rights activists, poets, authors, and all around celebrated thinkers. Known for her kindness and profound wisdom, the author of the classic I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings lived an extraordinary life and made an impact on the nation and world that will be felt for generations, perhaps longer. For these reasons and so many more, Maya Angelou definitely belongs on any list of good character quotes.
The above quote is especially unique. We live in a society that abhors judgement, and for the most part that is the just and true way to live. After all we are all human beings, and we all make mistakes – sometimes horrific, damaging mistakes.We all deserve a second chance. However, all of that being said, sometimes we have to come to the realization that there are people in the world who are simply toxic. It is my belief that this is what Maya Angelou meant with this quote.
We will all run across all kinds of people in this life. We would do well to realize when someone is not good for our well being. When someone shows their true colors, believe them the first time. After all, it just might save a lot of hardship and pain. This is one of the wisest character quotes I have run across, from one of the wisest women to have lived in modern history.
3. “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We’re the change that we seek.”– Barack Obama
Barack Obama is, of course, the man who served as America’s 44th President. He made history as the first African American to be elected to the nation’s highest office, both overcoming the hardest barrier that ever existed in American politics, but also exposing the ugly racist underbelly that still exists in this country. To that end, it is very appropriate to quote him here, as he is one of the most extraordinary examples of the American dream to ever exist. Therefore, President Obama definitely belongs on this list of character quotes.
This is one of the best, and most wise, quotes from President Obama. Change is something that is a hallmark of American history, and every major change that has ever transpired has followed what this quote says. Instead of sitting around and waiting for the next generation to make that more perfect union, people who knew it was time did the work and took the risks themselves. This is true of everything from the women’s suffrage movement to the Civil Rights movement, to the modern fights for more equality that we see today. If we truly love our fellow human beings, our nation, and ourselves, our character will move us to act. That is what makes this quote so essential to this list of character quotes.
4. “There is no better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance next time.”– Malcolm X
Malcom X was a great American minister and civil rights leader. He overcame much hardship in his life in order to dedicate his existence to the cause of equality. That history is what makes this particular quote so profound. Rather than sitting back and letting others do the work, Malcolm X took great risks to forge ahead with his righteous mission. His unconventional and often unpopular – but nonetheless effective – tactic on this quest would eventually cost him his life. However, he died a hero, doing what he knew to be right. There is nothing more admirable.
Adversity is something we all face in life. It should not be seen as something to be resentful or bitter about, though. Adversity is something that we should choose to look at as a challenge, and an opportunity to learn valuable life lessons. After all, those who succeed in accomplishing their goals often learn much more than those who had an easier road. Adversity builds character, which akes this quote a great addition to any list of character quotes.
5. “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was, of course the famed minister and civil rights leader who is largely credited with the success of the Civil Rights Movement. He literally gave his life to ensure racial equality in America. The above quote is from that famous “I Have a Dream” speech that he made at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. However, a little known fact is that those words were not in the original text of the speech. They were simply a part of Dr. King’s moment of passion, of his belief in his message and the power of creating a more equal America.
This is perhaps the most important quote on this list, which is why I saved the best for last, so to speak, here. People should think of this quote when it comes to assessing our fellow human beings. We are all people first, and we need to remember that in time of great strife and tension, both in our daily lives and in the larger context of things. Dr. King was wise man who was taken from us far too soon. However, his wisdom and legacy will forever live on, and his voice is essential to any list of character quotes.
Really taking in great character quotes can help us all live our best lives.
The quotes above come from giants among us. These are people whose legacies have helped touch and shape all of our lives, and have helped shaped history. They all came to their places, to make their marks, in different ways, but they all had one thing in common: great character. No amount of money, status, or fame will ever replace that. Character is the one thing we all have, and character quotes are an amazing way to help us all become better people.
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