Lifestyle Choices: An Unconditional Committment To What Is Right and Just
My father keeps speaking to me; day and night, no matter what the date, his voice is always with me and his words I cannot escape. Dale Holland has been dead now for forty-three years and yet I can hear him as if he were standing right next to me. Isn’t that as it should be considering he was the most important mentor in my lifetime?
My dad was an incredibly flawed human being, but now that I have garnered a tiny bit of wisdom over the past four decades or so I feel fairly safe in saying that we are all incredibly flawed human beings. Dad had his faults to be sure but he also had some qualities that I inherited and that remain with me today, as much a part of my personality as my laughter or my sensitivity or my empathy. One of those qualities that he passed on to me, for which I will forever be grateful, is an unconditional commitment to what he knew to be right and just.
There were many things in life that my father just didn’t care about. I never heard him talk about the economy nor did I ever see him volunteer down at the church or coach a team or for that matter eat better to improve his health; but there were some that were just about as important to him as breathing. The short list would include loyalty to family and friends, a strong sense of justice, personal integrity, respect for others and the importance of keeping your word. To him a man was only as good as his commitment to those things and they were sacred to him and by extension to me.
It has become almost instinctual for many to tell “little white lies.” I mean they really don’t hurt anyone, right? A little fib here, a little fib there, what’s the difference? To my dad the difference was whether or not you were a person who could be trusted. Period! In the twenty years that I knew him I never heard him tell a lie, and believe me I was paying attention and would have caught him if he had.
His personal favorite (and I am being sarcastic when I say that) regarding commitment to what is right were those people who would say they would be there for you anytime you needed them but then would have some convenient excuse for why they couldn’t help you when you did call upon them. For Dale Holland an offer to help was a sacred vow. If he liked you and respected you then all you had to do was ask and he was there. No matter the time of day or night, no matter what the problem or request, there he was fulfilling what he considered to be his personal commitment.
Loyalty? I have never met another person who was as loyal as my father. If a friend or family member was insulted or harassed or whatever, then the person doing the insulting had two people to deal with and not just one.
Respect for others was the cornerstone of his personal foundation. He was quick with a smile and a hello, and no matter the color of your skin or the beliefs that you carried he treated you with respect. He felt and told me often that a man earns his respect by respecting others and treating them as equals, and most importantly by doing what is right.
I have grown so weary of people who do not speak the truth, of people who do not honor their commitments, of people who cannot be trusted. With each passing year I seem to sense more and more people with a “me first” attitude, and if their selfishness or lack of commitment or falsehoods affects others well then so be it. That may be the current trend but I do not have to subscribe to it, nor will I because I have Dale Holland looking over my back.
Yes, that incredibly flawed human being still speaks to me. I will still lie awake at night and hear his voice as he whispers advice to me when I am troubled, and his words still give me comfort, just as they did before he tucked me into bed when I was younger. It is comforting knowing he is still here, still a source of strength for me, still a guiding light which I can follow as I stumble along towards happiness.