My father turned 75 this week. He grew up in a generation that accomplished a lot. His generation fought wars and worked hard for a living. Now dad is retired in Florida spending his days playing poker with his buddies and taking care of Mom.
I don't for a moment think he doesn't deserve a break. This child of the '70s has it good today because of men and women like him who worked hard, paid for the roads I drive on and built the country in which I have the privilege to live.
But many people in the generation that followed believe they are entitled to the same life. They have forgotten the virtue of gratitude.
Virtue - what does that mean? For those who need a refresher from Webster's, virtue means conformity to a standard of right, a particular moral excellence. Remember these virtues: honor, integrity, purity and loyalty? We forget how important these virtues are until we realize that the society that we live in rarely displays them.
Why is that? Why are we surprised to see someone of moral quality and virtue who returns the extra money mistakenly given from a cashier at Kroger? Why are we surprised at the young person who displays purity? Virtues seem to have gone the way of many deserted areas of downtown where we see only rundown buildings barely standing with broken windows and shoved-in doors. A culture without virtues is like a cold wind howling through an abandoned house that was once a home of warmth and security.
Forgotten virtues must be remembered again. Those who lived through world wars, experienced rationing and bought their first car from money earned on a paper route, you are our last hope. Please teach us! Teach us that we are not entitled to anything, yet we have an opportunity to do everything. Teach us that we can accomplish this with respect, honor, and integrity and without greed!
Help us teach our children that they can be successful without an attitude of entitlement, that if they work hard, tell the truth and honor others their time will come. Augusta, Martinez and Evans are not Mayberry, but we are also not Los Angeles or New York either.
There are many people who are living lives of honor and integrity in this area. I believe we can remember these virtues and live virtuous lives. So next time you see a soldier, shake their hand and honor them. The next time you go to a wedding and purity is still a priority with the couple, tell them you are proud of them. When you attend a retirement party for a minister who has faithfully loved the flock for 35 years, tell him how much you appreciate his loyalty.
The winds of change have come and gone through this town, but the decision to live virtuous lives is still ours. So wherever we are in the restaurants, stores, with our families at home or at church, it is still our decision. We need not forget the virtues of our parents and grandparents.
Let's not forget God. With submission to Him we can be people of high esteem. The world doesn't owe us a thing, but we owe those who have gone before us more than a little respect. Granddad might be old-fashioned and honor Grandma by opening the door for her, but the virtues of his day should not be forgotten. And what are those virtues? They are honor, loyalty, integrity, purity and gratitude.
P.S. Dad, thanks for your loyalty and dedication to me, my brother and sisters and Mom - and by the way, Happy 75th birthday.
(Mike Klaus is the senior minister at Columbia County Christian Church in Martinez.)
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