This I Believe

William - Okanogan, Washington
Entered on April 27, 2006

Four decades of adulthood saw me a soldier, pilot, cop, writer and single father. Those years included one war, three hospitalizations, riots, shootings, three marriages, much failure, and some success. I’ve seen too much death, yet I delivered you boys with my own hands.

On this crucible I have been forged to believe that no conviction is worthy if you cannot recommend it to your children. Hence, my beloved sons, while you must form your own beliefs, this … I believe:

Question everything, always, including what I tell you.

There are always at least two sides to every story, and the truth is never any of them, but is always something nebulous in between that you must divine for yourself.

Never, ever, tell anyone to do anything you cannot legally and physically force them to do, for if you do and they defy you, you lose their respect. Respect cannot be demanded or even given. It can only be earned.

Study hard. Education is your passport and your armor. You can’t have too much, but know that the soul of education is a clear understanding of how much you don’t know.

Read.

Read more.

Keep reading.

Love is a gift, never a barter.

Love and sex are not the same.

Monkeys have sex indiscriminately, but it doesn’t make them men.

Monkeys fight, too.

A condom can save you eighteen years of indentured servitude, untold thousands of dollars, and a lot more, but only if you use it.

Think with your brain, love with your heart, do sex with the plumbing nature gave you, and do not ever get those assigned organ functions confused.

Love does not conquer all. Without compatibility, romantic love dies. Compatibility is not about liking the same movies, food, and music. Compatibility is being content with each other’s differentness.

Hell is Disney World compared to a bad marriage. Don’t marry before age thirty. You will have established your living, and you’ll be better husband and father material. More critically, you will have known enough women well enough to better tell a good one from one who will kill you from the inside out.

We all cry in our time, but there is a crucial difference between suffering and whining.

Know too the thin distinction between reasons and excuses, for in the latter lies ruin. Disdain excuses, especially in yourself.

Money cannot buy happiness, but it can buy freedom, and freedom is essential to

happiness.

Respect they who love their god. Beware they who declare that you must love it too.

If you don’t eat, you can’t feed.

Be one who changes the trends, not one who is changed by them.

To waste time is to invite death to draw near.

If you ever get to thinking you’re hot stuff with cars, motorcycles, horses, aircraft, guns or women, you’d do well to reconsider, pronto, because you’re about to get hurt badly by one of them.

Last, yet most importantly, remember always who runs your life.

Now, run it.