Character is Destiny


In Character Is DestinyJohn McCain wrote about his imprisonment in the Hanoi Hilton during the Vietnam War.

"During the time I was held in solitary, I was caught, not for the first time, communicating with my dear friend in the cell next to mine. For my transgression, I was kept overnight in a punishment cell tied very tightly in ropes."

Fairly early in the night a Vietnamese guard entered his cell. McCain describes what happened next: "He motioned to me to remain silent by placing his finger to his lips, and then, without smiling or even looking me in the eyes, proceeded to loosen the ropes that bound me. His kind action completed, he left without uttering a word to me. As dawn approached, he returned to tighten the ropes before he finished his watch and another guard might have discovered what he had done."

Months passed. Christmas came. McCain was allowed a few precious minutes alone outdoors, given a chance to enjoy the clear, blue sky. He says, "As I was looking at the heavens, I became aware of him (my benefactor) as he walked near me and then, for a moment, stood very close to me. He did not speak or smile or look at me. He just stared at the ground in front of us, and then, very casually, he used his foot to draw a cross in the dirt. We both stood looking at his work for a minute until he rubbed it out and walked away."

McCain concludes: "I have never forgotten him or the kindness he showed me as a testament to the faith we shared."

From another writer, "Kindness is a universal language which even an animal can understand and even a mute can speak. The person who has not learned kindness remains uneducated no matter how many diplomas adorn his office walls...The person who has leaned to be kind has mastered the most vital subject in life's curriculum." Sidney Greenberg.

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