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Thanks for the lessons, Dad

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Present conditions have served to provide some limitations in our traditional means of acknowledging this past Sunday through the buying of gifts and the other material items of Father's Day. In a way, perhaps that might be a positive.

Therefore, I felt I would make up for that by sharing some thoughts and maybe providing some insight and understanding. Often we are burdened by the requirements of daily life, or words simply fail us at the appropriate instant. Maybe this is the time, and maybe I can rise a bit to the summons of that moment.

I have been asked many times in professional and academic circles; "What is your philosophy. What is your personal code?" I always respond in the same manner, which is that I have tried to follow three principles. These are points that, for one reason or another have influenced me with a simplicity of thought that directs one toward a universal truth.

First, in Sunday school at Grand Forks Air Force Base I finally paid some attention to the Golden Rule. I had difficulty getting my mind around the whole "Do unto others" concept. But I thought it must be important so I kept trying to better understand it.

Several years later in Junior High I heard it explained as simply treating people as ends unto themselves, meaning -- don't use people as a means to achieve a selfish purpose. I've tried to adhere to that, but I've also found out that if others know you play by that rule, you can be taken advantage of. I'm still working on the defensive postures to employ with that principle.

Later on I heard someone say, "You're either part of the solution or you're part of the problem." That struck me as true. If one isn't trying, then others have to carry your portion of the load. It was a call to never quit made by, and this floored me, Huey P. Newton of the Black Panthers.

Huey later found God as a born-again Christian. So maybe he had just been thrashing about in his misspent youth looking for direction. Huey never really expanded on the serious nature of the negative trickle-down effect of the corollary of his statement, as I have continued to learn.

Both of these first two did fit with your comments on personal responsibility. But the final principle, and this is where you really come in, was about camping. When we would go to different campsites, you always made me clean up our area when it was time to leave. It was part of my job on those trips and that made sense to me, it was our mess to clean. But you would also make me pick up the liter left by others, and early on that bothered me.

One time on Mt. Lemon in Ariz., I asked why do we have to pick up someone else's trash, and by "we" I of course meant "me." But you said, "If we don't, who will? You should always leave your campsite better for your having been there."

That stuck with me to this day. We're all just passing through here, and if we don't try, who will? And shouldn't we work to make this a better world for our having been? There is universal truth there.

So when I am feeling the occasional weight of a passing world, I rely on these thoughts -- treat people with respect, never quit on your responsibilities else someone will have to pull your load, and leave this pale blue dot out on the fringe better for your having wandered through.

I know I haven't achieved this at all times or in all ways, but I thought you should know that the pull to do so is there in large measure because of you. This continues to give me eternal hope. And in a world of free choice bound between greatness and insignificance, splendor and despair; hope is what drives us all.

Thanks for the lesson Dad. Hope you had a great Father's Day.

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