We have the capacity to be generous or selfish. We can be good or bad. We can be slothful or full of excitement and energy. We choose the path we travel, and as a result we suffer the consequences. We can take the high road or the low road. We are either a giver or a taker. We are a builder or a wrecker. We are a warrior or a peacemaker. Sometimes we are a little of both.
An unknown poet expressed it this way:
I watched them tearing a building down,
A gang of men in a busy town,
With a ho-heave-ho and a lusty yell,
They swung a beam and the side wall fell.
I asked the foreman, Are these men skilled,
And men youd hire if you had to build?
He gave a laugh and said, No, indeed!
Just common labor is all I need.
I can easily wreck in a day or two,
What builders have taken a year to do.
I thought to myself as I went on my way,
Which of these roles have I tried to play?
Am I a builder who works with care,
Measuring life by the rule and square?
Am I shaping my deeds to a well-made plan,
Patiently doing the best I can?
Or am I a wrecker who walks the town,
Content with the labor of tearing down?
Family and friends often know whether we are builders or wreckers before we are willing to acknowledge which we are. I know few who claim to be saint or sinner. Most of the time we are a mixture of the good and bad. There is some good in every person and some bad in all of us.
Do you remember those lines? There is so much good in the worst of us and so much bad in the best of us that it hardly behooves any of us to speak evil of the rest of us. I have never met a person who is so depraved that he cannot be cleansed from his sins and saved by the grace of God.
If we leave the world a little better when we depart, we have been a positive force for good. If, however, the world is worse when we leave, God have mercy, if we have helped to make it worse.
Samuel Coleridge once said, If a man is not rising upwards to be an angel, depend upon it, he is sinking downward to be a devil. We are never neutral; we are always ascending or descending.
The people who make the world better believe that morals and ethics must be practiced in the home, business and government. They believe in God, the Ten Commandments, love, helping their neighbor, kindness and forgiveness. They believe in the value of human life and the Golden Rule. They are God-fearing people who believe in the potential of every person. Within every person there is a saint. Man is a work in progress; making the world better is everyones business.
Josiah Holland gave us this great prayer,
God give us men. A time like this demands strong minds, great hearts, true faith and ready hands. Men who the lust of office does not kill, nor the spoils of office cannot buy, men who love honor, men who cannot lie.
Dr. Robert V. Ozment, an author and retired United Methodist minister, lives in Floyd County.