So, yes, I may be a little behind the times…in that I just got into Jack Bauer and “24” – the hit show everyone’s been crazy about for a long time now. But, actually, that’s just the point of my story – how it really doesn’t matter how long you’ve been a “fan” of someone, or even how long you’ve known them, you should be able to discern important parts of their inner character in a relatively short period of time.

Here’s my story…

I have heard so many people talk about “24” and “Jack Bauer” lately (with the new season hitting our TVs this past week), that I decided to go to my local movie store and rent out Season 1 of “24” the other day…after about 5 minutes into the show, I realized why women everywhere had fallen in love with Jack, his heroism and the whole show. I also understand why men just simply wanted to be “him.”  By the seventh episode, I was hooked and totally loved Jack.

I was in love with his character, everything about him. I loved that he is the hero we all hope is inside us, the man who will risk anything for his family, loved ones, his team, and all those closest to him. I also loved that he was real and human as well as being a hero – he wasn’t the unrealistic superhero many shows portray, but rather the real kind – you know, the kind that actually – gulp – fails sometimes. As the viewer, I was okay with his failures, because his goodness…decentness…rightness…morals…values…and true love…far outweighed whatever those failures were.

During the seventh episode, Jack shoots a friend he really loves – indeed, one of his closest team members and a huge supporter – and allegedly kills her. It’s a tragic scene, one that slams you in the gut and makes you think he’s “gone bad,” turned into a traitor of his country, his team and, ultimately, his own heart. It’s a scene that comes as kind of a smack in the face to everything good in Jack, everything you’ve fallen in love with for the past seven episodes.

But here’s where my reaction stunned even me. My reaction to this part wasn’t, “Oh, Jack, why have you gone bad?” But, No, he wouldn’t do that…there is no way on earth he killed her… Then, I said to myself, But, Josephine, the evidence all points to the “facts” that, he did kill her – that she is dead, and he has gone bad. But, then, everything in me was screaming, NO, he didn’t kill her, Josephine…he wouldn’t do that…from his reputation…and with everything I’ve just watched for seven episodes about his character, he wouldn’t go bad, turn, become a traitor and kill her. There’s got to be a way she’s still alive.

We do find out in later episodes that Jack hadn’t gone to the dark side, or become a traitor; indeed, while making it look to the bad guys that he had killed his friend to save the lives of some of his family members, he actually saved both his friend’s life and the lives of his family members.

When I had that initial thought about Jack’s character, it instantly struck me – that’s truly how easy it is for us to judge a person’s character…how easy it is to discern the trustworthiness and major traits of someone; to know who they really are, and what they will or won’t do in certain important situations life will throw their way…I mean, here I was, and, because Jack’s reputation proceeded him, and from my own observation in seven hours of watching this character…I knew, really knew inside…that his character, who he was down deep in his soul, would simply not have allowed him to become a traitor or kill his fellow team member.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with “24,” it’s important that I note here the further significance to this realization. You need to know that the TV series “24” has 24 episodes in each season, with each episode being literally an hour in the day of its main character’s life (Jack Bauer). This meant that, truly, I’d made an accurate evaluation of an important element of this man’s inner character by “only” his reputation and watching “only” seven hours of this man’s life “happen” before my eyes. When you think about it, that’s not a whole lot of time with this man. But, in the end, it was enough time…enough time for me to take all the signs I’d gathered and make a correct assessment.

It made me think that in real life, it’s so important that we take the information and signs we have been given about a person that has entered our life and make a correct assessment in one or more fundamental parts of their character. It also made me think, not only is it important to make an assessment, but to realize that we have everything we need at our disposal to put together a proper evaluation of essential parts of their inner character. If we’re really looking and paying attention to the details, we can truly discern many significant parts of a person’s character that has entered our life, in a relatively short period of time.

This situation also made me think about how often we put blinders on about people in our lives, and this prevents us from using the available information we have about them to make a correct assessment of their inner character. We can choose to ignore the signs, see what we want to see, trust what we want to trust; or we can take the signs and observations of the “character” of a person and correctly determine that this or that is something that they would or would not do.

Until next time,