It is fitting for a school that produced many scholars, professionals, captains of industry, and distinguished public servant and community leaders.. It was a school that insisted on maximum effort, that took every student, whether motivated or not, and challenged them to think, to argue and to become enchanted with discovering knowledge and ideas.
It was hard to realize at age 14 then that I was now becoming a part of a community, that my contributions, my words and my actions had no independent significance apart of or from me, that I could not disassociate myself from yesterday’s remarks or deeds, and that free floating thoughts when expressed could become your personal albatross.
Fast forward 37 years later to words in the latest hit by Miranda Lambert, the talented country vocalist.’ Everybody dies famous in a small town.’ Indeed, I will likely die famous in a small town. Miranda Lambert’s songs always make you think. Just what will I be famous for ?
I don’t want to venture. But if I could decide, it would be for living by the values and ideals that most plain, ordinary folk take for granted while the cultural elite seeks to destroy them.
I would like to die famous for living by the golden rule.
I would like to die famous for honoring my parents.
I would like to die famous for a charitable gift.
I would like to die famous for the loyalty and love I show Joan.
I would like to die famous for doing something meaningful for America .
I would like to die famous for helping others less fortunate
I would like to die famous for promoting justice and liberty.
I would like to die famous for creativity, honesty and decency.
I would like to die famous for living a humble and simple, uncomplicated life.
I would like to die famous for kindness to animals.
But is there a contradiction between wanting to die famous and at the same time swearing allegiance to the values that put values over fame?
Probably not. We are born with our names. We die with our names, save those who change their name. If we sully our names while alive it is no act of simplicity to put that toothpaste back in the tub or to “unring” the bell.
Keeping our names free from scorn and contempt, and leaving behind a good name, is an Eternal Value. My definition of an Eternal Value is a deeply held belief, common to the loftiest ideals of civilization, values which a person follows at times of critical personal decision making.
In a society where people are warned off cooperating with the police in the name of “stop snitching’ and thus letting murderers go free, where songs praising drugs and promiscuity are wildly popular, where profanity is ubiquitous, where violence and corruption are rampant; a revolution in values is overdue.
David Grossack is General counsel for the National Writers Syndicate.