Decency and character will always win
It’s ironic how an individual can be mocked in real time only to have his or her true value recognized decades later. Even more ironic is the reality that when such recognition is finally given it is rarely based on a discovery that the individual was smarter, shrewder or more politically astute than originally thought.
Rather, it is typically based on the fact that they were more decent. In the end, decency and character always trump shrewdness.
Obviously the above statement is in reference to George H. W. Bush. In a rare display of emotion, former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney stated that he is convinced President Bush will go down as the most courageous, principled and honourable occupant of the Oval Office the United States has ever known.
This, despite the fact he was not so highly revered during his actual time in office.
It would be low-hanging fruit for me to compare and contrast the legacy of George H. W. Bush with the dismal behavior currently on display in the White House, but that is not the direction of this column.
First, it would be pointless, since I am confident no one in the White House reads this column. Second, it would be valueless. It is always much easier, but less productive to target someone thousands of kilometers away than to look reflectively in one’s own mirror. The principle at stake is a principle for my life and yours.
The ancient wisdom book of the Older Testament of the Bible states that, “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold (Proverbs 22:1).”
Whenever a statement declares that something is better than, or more desirable than something else, it is a statement of values. It establishes a pecking order of what matters more or most.
The events of this week, and in fact the headlines of past months sound a clarion call for each of us to build and safeguard our reputation. Decency, character, trustworthiness and integrity really matter. In fact, they ultimately matter.
Years ago, I engaged a discussion group with this question: “If your son or daughter was about to leave home for the first time, what advice would you give as your send-off message?”
I distinctly remember a mother with three sons saying, “I gave the same message to all three of my boys. As they left home I told them to remember who they are.” They were instructed to remember and honour their good name.
One is occasionally tempted to envy people of significant wealth or power. Their status is not without its perks. This week, however, as I stand beside my 96-year-old father to bury his 100-year-old brother that temptation will be clearly and definitively put in its place. “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” My generation of Schroeders has been given a rich legacy to steward for the generation that comes behind us.
People like George H. W. Bush on a largerthan-life platform, or people like Henry Schroeder on a scale more of us can relate to, remind us that in the end, decency and character always win.
Tim Schroeder is a pastor at Trinity Baptist Church and chaplain to the Kelowna Rockets and RCMP. This column appears in Okanagan Weekend.