A Father’s Advice
By: Michael Nevin, Jr.
You have just turned two-years-old and are several years away from reading this letter, but life moves quick, so I wanted to spend a moment to share with you some famous words of wisdom mixed in with your old man’s advice.
Let’s start off with probably the most important lesson in life-wisdom begins with awe of God. It is a common mistake these days for people of faith to shun public acknowledgment of their core beliefs. But this great country was founded on Judeo-Christian principals. “In God We Trust” is engrained on the coins in your piggy bank and “God Bless America” is still the national favorite.
You come from good blood lines and family will undoubtedly be a meaningful part of your life. I never spent a wasted moment with my grandparents and neither will you. You’re lucky to have caring and decent people ready to share every special event that will come to pass. Your aunts, uncles, and cousins will share in your finest moments as well. Along with your mom, these are the people to turn to when your dad is long on mouth and short on ears.
You’ll go to many parades but none will be more important than Veteran’s Day. All gave some; some gave all for us to live free. From Bunker Hill to the beaches of Normandy, America’s bravest fought for and defended our freedoms. I expect you to honor and respect them.
Firefighters rush into burning buildings as people run out. Cops will show up for just about every other problem you may encounter. Support their raises and benefits-it may even help with your college expenses.
Unless you can paint the corners of the strike zone with a 95-mph fastball or run the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds, education is the only sure ticket to success. Your best teachers will inspire and challenge you. Every subject in school is important but I recommend a heavy dose of history. Confucius said, “Being fond of the truth, I am an admirer of antiquity.” Will Rogers best explained the learning curve in this way: “There are three kinds of men: the ones that learn by reading, the few who learn by observation, the rest of them have to pee on an electric fence and find out for themselves.” Don’t be one of the latter.
During recess in the play yard, stand up for the kid whom the bully picks on. He’ll remember you when he becomes a big CEO. If anyone picks on you, remember the words of Eleanor Roosevelt: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Here’s a little secret-bullies really aren’t that tough, and they cry themselves to sleep.
Sports are not only fun but provide important lessons in teamwork, sportsmanship, and commitment. Passion for the game is passion for life and you’ll feel that passion long after your last touchdown. Although losing may dampen your spirit, it will test your mettle. Since we’re talking about sports, I would be remiss not to mention a thought from the great John Wooden: “Reputation is what you are perceived to be. Character is what you are.”
I look forward to spending time with you at the ballpark. I can’t promise that I’ll catch a fly ball but you can bet we’ll be on time for the National Anthem. I hope that moment is on par with Barry Bonds staring at a payoff pitch.
When you find people less fortunate than you, offer a hand up not a hand out. Compassion cannot be measured by dollars and cents. America affords everyone equal opportunity to succeed or to fail. Nobody owes us anything; we owe it to ourselves to be the best that we can be. You may lack silver spoons but you’ll always have plenty of love.
Sometimes we get too big for our own britches and we need to be reminded of yet another line from Will Rogers: “If you get to thinking you’re a person of some influence, try ordering somebody else’s dog around.”
Life is known to throw some curveballs and the ride will feel bumpy at times. Your mom and I will be there to lend a helping hand. Martin Luther King, Jr. explained, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Don’t be afraid to stand up for your beliefs in spite of the criticism that might come your way. Mark Twain said, “Courage is not the lack of fear. It is acting in spite of it.”
Finally, singer Lee Ann Womack sums it up quite nicely and I couldn’t agree more: “Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance, and when you get the choice to sit it out or dance-I hope you dance.”
Michael Nevin, Jr. is a contributor to several Internet websites and a staff writer for the New Media Alliance. He receives e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*A version of this letter was published in the book, “Americans on Politics, Policy, and Pop Culture: The 101 Best Opinion Editorials from OpEds.com.”