Montgomery Gentry sings one of my all-time favorite songs, “Some People Change.” If you pay attention to the song’s lyrics, you hear about people who make a conscious decision about how they will live in the future. Leaving me with the question, how am I doing?
As a fourteen-year-old kid, I remember standing at the bus stop, in the February cold of Morrill, Maine, shortly after my birthday, and committing to leading a life where the chains of abuse and the history of violence in my family stopped with me. From that day to this, almost 40-years, I can say I have failed and succeeded, but I am still in the fight.
Mother Teresa is a person I look up to. Kindness personified, even in the midst of the most desperate of human circumstances, she kept emptying the ocean one teaspoon of kindness at a time. There are times when I hope to be as kind as Mother Teresa, and then I realize that will require a lot more work. Mother Teresa has several quotes that I enjoy that apply to our times:
- “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”
- “Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”
- “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”
My mother-in-law was a scrapper; born to an alcoholic and abusive father who stole her wages for the ability to drink; my mother-in-law came into this world fighting mad and swinging. A knuckle-busting, streetfighting, hell on heels kind of gal. I swear my mother-in-law could have scared Kitty Leroy into being an honest woman!
In her late 80s, she had a run-in with a high school football player who a grocery store employed; the player cried after getting her tongue lashing. Their relationship improved over time. When my mother-in-law passed from this mortal plane, she was kind, considerate, and angelic. Her last five years or so were spent being 100% helpless from a fall where she broke a bone near her hip. When I hear Montgomery Gentry sing their song, I thank the powers that be for having witnessed such a tremendous change in such an incredible woman.
Let me tell a story about my mother-in-law and her fighting spirit. As a kid, my wife and about 14 of her classmates caught polio. My wife was headed for split leg muscles, an iron lung, and a reduced lifespan. My mother-in-law fought the doctors, did a lot of research, and through her convincing ways, 14 of those classmates, including my wife, walk today, had families, had long productive lives, and have experienced joy-filled lives post-polio. The one classmate whose parents were convinced by medical professionals suffered greatly for her short life.
When I think of some people who change, President Abraham Lincoln comes readily to mind. While he might not have made the dramatic changes my mother-in-law made, the changes he made were more fundamental and led America through some tough times. Consider President Lincoln’s most famous executive order, “The Emancipation Proclamation.” One of the few times in American Presidential history where I agree with the use of executive orders to make fundamental social change. A true shame is that the Congress of the United States refuses to make this part of official law in America. Like Mother Teresa, President Lincoln has said some things which I enjoy and motivate me.
- “Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.”
- “Whatever you are, be a good one.”
- “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
- “I’m a success today because I had a friend who believed in me, and I didn’t have the heart to let him down.”
I often quote my experiences with Miss Murphy, Principal of Governor Anderson Elementary School, SAD 34, Belfast, Maine. I am who I am today because Miss Murphy influenced me in a primary manner that changed my life. Two people had a tremendous impact on my life, Miss Murphy and a family friend who became my best friend. Two people from paradoxical backgrounds chose to invest in me as a person, above and beyond the typical call of duty. Miss Murphy had a poster in her office, it was of a forest of pine trees, with a path that wandered into the background, but the caption on this poster has stayed with me since the first time I saw it:
“Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”
I did not know why, the first time I saw that poster, I liked it. But, after enough years of thoughtful consideration, I understand why I love that poster. How many times have we wanted a friend but got a follower or a person who wanted to lead; I do not know about you, but this has happened too many times.
To the bigots ignorant of history, please keep your yap shut! Another person I recognize as a great leader, amazing person, and someone who personified the saying, “Some people change,” is General Robert E. Lee. A man known to walk through his Arlington fields where Confederate and Union soldiers were laid to rest who prayed for those entombed. The US Congress thought to punish General Robert E. Lee by seizing his fields for a National Cemetery, but in the end, the seizure was not the punishment the US Congress thought; that is the character of the man. General Lee makes several points the world would be wiser to heed.
- “We failed, but in the good providence of God, apparent failure often proves a blessing.”
- “I cannot trust a man to control others who cannot control himself.”
- “Obedience to lawful authority is the foundation of manly character.”
- “The education of a man is never completed until he dies.”
- “Never do a wrong thing to make a friend or to keep one.”
A “Liberty FIRST Culture” recognizes that truth comes when people change. People can choose to change, and in changing their minds, change the world. Never give up on people!
Thanks to the brave! Some people change!
© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.