In June 2008 a teen-aged boy visiting Six Flags Over Georgia died due to a lack of character.
You don’t believe that?
It is, sadly, very true. His death was caused by a lack of character.
First, let me say that I am not saying the teen was a bad person. I never knew him. Nor am I saying it serves him right. I am not callous. I am saddened at the thought of his death and the grief his family is suffering. I can imagine my own son being killed, and my heart goes out to all who knew the teen. Nevertheless, the situation can teach others, both young and old, a vital lesson, and we are obliged to teach it. We are especially obliged to teach young children, repeating the lesson frequently until they are saturated with its truth. Let’s look at how character would have spared this teen.
It began when, lacking the character trait respect toward authority, the teen climbed over two six-foot fences to get into an area that was marked off limits. He could read the multiple signs stating “Danger Zone”, “Do Not Enter”, and “Authorized Personnel Only”. He knew that he should not climb the fences. The trouble is, he lacked character, and refused to exercise respect for park rules. He climbed over both fences and entered the area where he was killed.
Not only did this teen fail to exercise respect, he also failed to exercise the character trait submission, sometimes called obedience. Submitting to the signs he read, and obeying them, would have increased his personal safety. He would not have been in harm’s way. The trouble is, he lacked character, and refused to exercise submissiveness. As a result, he was struck and killed by the Batman ride.
A third character trait that the boy failed to exercise was courage. He understood clearly what the right thing to do was, but he lacked the courage to do it. He failed to exercise courage and stand alone when the rest of his teen group decided to climb the fence. He failed to speak up, remind them of the demands of character, and refuse to go against what he knew to be wrong. As a result, he was decapitated.
One report says the teenager jumped up under the moving Batman ride, and tried to grab someone’s feet. Riders’ feet dangle in space below the Batman as it hurtles along at 50 miles per hour. Had the teen exercised the character trait compassion, he would have realized that such an action would endanger a rider. As it was, his lack of compassion endangered – and killed – him. No one else was injured.
Self-control would have kept the seventeen-year old from giving in to his itch to play a prank. Self-control would have nailed his feet to the ground when he had an impulse to scale the fence. He failed to exercise self-control, however, and his failure cost him his life.
Check out a list of character traits, and you will see that many others apply in this situation. The point is this: character steps up the personal safety factor.
The exercise of character traits really does make life safer. The more I study that, the more I realize that it is true. Those who build character into their lives, and exercise it consistently, avoid many dangerous situations.
Parents and teachers would do well to drill this lesson into every child – and teach character in a way that is, above all else, thorough and effective.