De­cency and char­ac­ter will al­ways win

The Daily Courier - - CANADA -

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.

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