No. 686



The late Retired Lt. Gen. Arthur G. Trudeau once said of character, “It is the total of thousands of small daily strivings to live up to the best that is in us … the final decision to reject whatever is demeaning to oneself or to others and with confidence and honesty to choose the right.” Using Gen. Trudeau’s definition of character as a backdrop, I would like to share some thoughts with you today that I consider to be very important. What you think or choose to do about them and any decisions you will make will be up to you.
Let me begin by sharing a verse from the Bible, found in Matthew 5:41: “And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him two.” When this verse was written, the law allowed a Roman soldier to make a person carry his back pack for a Roman mile, about one thousand paces and a distance of about 1,620 yards. Jesus said if someone forced you to go with him a mile, go with him two miles. This is where we get the saying, “Go the extra mile.” It means we should go beyond what is expected of us in helping others. There is a principle involved in this saying that many people do not fully understand, because the extra mile is where the blessings are to be found.
In a day and time when our language has become so course, scams have become the rule rather than the exception, cheating if you don’t get caught is acceptable, and winning at all costs is code for millions of our citizens, we need to step back and re-evaluate our priorities and what they have done to our way of life. For me the question becomes, what can I do that will bring out the best in others? If you happen to be one of the millions of Americans caught up in a rat race that produces no real satisfaction or happiness, I have some good news for you. Regardless of our past, we can choose to do the right thing, to have character and integrity, regardless of what our family, friends, associates or others around us choose to do.
When we consistently do that, we become a role model for others, and in time we will find ourselves bringing out the best in others. Here is the bottom line. We can’t control how others act or react toward us, but we can control how we act and react toward them. We can bring out the best in others by being and becoming the very best person we can be. What I am saying here is that we can be our own person regardless of the battles that are raging all around us. In many cases this means we have to change our lifestyle. Just think of the personal satisfaction it will bring when you know that you are a positive role model for others.
Without a doubt I love other people and I respect their rights. I don’t judge others for their actions and their behavior. Only God can do that. However, I truly pity the people in our society who are robbing, killing, raping and defrauding others when they stand before Him and are judged for their sins. If we are to be a role model, here is something I would ask you to consider. If the people who sell alcohol and tobacco, promote the lottery, operate casinos, sell pornography, and sell illegal drugs and other addictive substances depended on me to make a profit, they would all go under. It’s a personal choice, but I choose not to do any of those things.
How can we bring out the best in others if we do things by our example that would cause others to become an alcoholic, develop lung cancer, lose their life savings and their family, become a slave to sex, a prostitute or a drug addict? We are free to make our own decisions, but I hope you will consider for yourself or your loved ones what I have shared here. Please go back and reread Lt. Gen. Trudeau’s definition of character and then do your best to go the extra mile.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To support literacy, buy his book: “Learning, Earning & Giving Back.”)