Things that I've learned from others

I’m not going to discuss the GOP primary ... not directly.

I am going to write a bit about some things I’ve learned from others over the years, and truth be known, I may touch on politics a bit.

There are important people in my life who have taught me some very, very important lessons.

I’d like to think I took these lessons to heart. I believe I have.

Don’t run. Think about what you’re doing.

The first day I shipped out on a Great Lakes freighter, I really wanted to make a good impression.

I was supposed to meet the bo’sun on the fantail of the ship on which I was working — the Detroit Edison.

Wanting to show him how serious I was, I left my cabin and hoofed it down the deck to the rear of the freighter.

He watched me running down the deck and stopped me halfway, grabbing my arm and saying:

“Don’t run. Don’t ever run on a ship. Always think about what you’re doing — and what could happen.”

I’ve always remembered that.

Something so simple.

Don’t run. Don’t just plow into a situation.

Think about what you’re doing and the consequences.

Sage advice.

Don’t just talk. Think about what you’re saying.

Quite a few years ago, I attended a lecture offered by some Buddhist monks.

They discussed the basics of Buddhism with the audience, and explained what their religion was all about in simple terms.

Toward the end of the evening, there was time for some questions and answers.

I noticed that when a questions was asked, the monk handling this part of the evening would look closely at the questioner, close his eyes for a second, breath in, exhale slowly, and only then offer a response.

Every question was the same.

He would look at the person asking the question.

Close his eyes and breath in.

Open his eyes while breathing out and answer the question with a minimum of words.

I later, asked him why the process of giving a simple answer was so drawn out.

He said:

“I don’t just talk. I think about what I’m saying. It’s important.”

Oh my goodness.

You need to know the rules in order to break the rules.

Early in my career, I worked with some lions of the newspaper world.

At the time, and still today, there were lots of rules concerning what we call “journalese” — the English of journalism.

A leading example of this is AP Style. Most newspapers in the country, including the Pioneer, follow AP Style.

It kinda standardizes the language and style used in this business. AP Style is to writing what interchangeable parts are to mass manufacturing.

But then, there is other writing.

For example, in a word I used few sentences up I wrote “kinda.”

I know it’s not correct.

But especially in a column such as this, I like to write more in a style similar to how most folks speak.

It’s just what I do.

But, when I was considerably … er … fresher in this business, I had to stick to the rules in everything I wrote.

Back in the day, my masters let me know in no uncertain terms “You need to know the rules before you break the rules.”

How true, in every aspect of life.

There’s a price. Are you willing to pay?

While I was in the military, I was called on to do something I felt was wrong.

I decided to refuse a direct order.

Realizing there would be serious consequences, I talked with my wife about the situation. We decided that even in the framework I was in at that point — the military — I could not carry out an order I believed was wrong.

I refused a direct order.

I stood before a military judge who asked:

“There is a price. Are you willing to pay?”

I did.

I spent time in the slammer. It wasn’t pleasant, but I’m OK with my decision — even today.

In everything we do, there is a price for doing the right thing.

Are you willing to pay?

And finally, I simply must touch on politics.

I’m not going to get into the Newt Gingrich thing any more than I already have in past columns.

All I will say is this ...

When I was a kid in Detroit, I didn’t have too many long meaningful talks with my Dad.

I wish I had. He was a pretty special person.

But … I do remember a number of things he said even if I don’t always remember the circumstances in which they were spoken.

One day, (or probably one evening), I was fiddling on some project in the basement while he worked in his woodshop.

I don’t remember why the topic came up, but he said to me:

“You can never trust a man who will lie to his wife.”

Let me repeat that slowly.

“You can never trust a man who will lie to his wife.”

It’s one of those things that just sticks in your noggin.

You can never trust a man who will lie to his wife.

How true. How very, very true.