This I Believe

Thomas - Battle Creek, Michigan
Entered on May 26, 2006

There are moments in ones life that stand out as being pivital for one reason or another.Once when I was making a delivery at a filling station in a small town in Michigan a bus filled with male prisoners parked close to where my delivery truck was located. Apparently the guard or the bus driver had stopped to get a cup of coffee. While pushing my cart filled with boxes of oil containers I gazed over at the bus. It was probably just a paranoid moment on my part, but it was as though they were all looking at me. I imagined that they were all thinking: I wish I was that guy out there in the world. Something came to my mind at that moment as well: There but for the grace of God go I.

Freedom is a wonderful thing that we all take for granted. At that moment I became aware of how precious it is. We all know that saying is not about god, but about plain old luck. Luck plays an important role in our lives if we just admit to it. The luck of my birth probably had a lot to do with my not being in a situation that would have led to a life of crime and being in that bus with those prisoners. That’s what I believe.

Currently we are going through a period in our culture where those who have been successful, in however one measures success, are full of themselves and their accomplishments. Work hard and make the right decisions and you will find success. A free market and the entrepreneurial spirit is the icing on the cake of a democracy, they will say. In the main they may be right. We do have any number of wonderful inventions that have transformed our way of life. What happens in the future will tell if they are right,however.

Life is not fair! That phrase, repeated often especially by children, comes to mind. We’ve all said it at one time or another. My contention that while life may very well be unfair,( I’m certain some of those prisoners would say that.) it is our job to make it fair.

My father was a union official at a Goodyear plant in Jackson,Michigan many years ago. At times he had to defend workers who were not of the best type productivity wise, but he did it anyway because they deserved to have a voice. He never cared for the intransigent nature that some unions have become known for in their dealing with company management. He did, however, feel strongly about protecting the workers from unscrupulous management practices. It was his way of helping to make life a little more fair.

I’m certain that Bill Gates or any number of people who have been successful in life, if they are honest with themselves, understand that luck certainly played a part in their success.

When I was a small child in Jackson, Michigan my home bordered a field that was used by the trustees from the prison on Cooper street for agricultural purposes. One of them made a toy for my neighbor playmate.

I guess that’s where I started to view them as just regular people, born under the wrong star, so to speak. There but for the grace of god go I! That has more relevance than we imagine at times.