I have been told there was a time when a person was judged upon the words that emanated from his mouth.
A person’s character could be seen in his deeds and by what he would say and sometimes what he would not say.
I have met many people in my life. Some, I would not trust them as far as I could throw them, while others — if they say it, it will be done.
When two people struck a bargain and shook hands, there was nothing else to do.
Today, however, we are in a world filled will reams of contracts, agreements and endless disclaimers and visits to a lawyer.
My grandpa Bill was a man of his word. If he said he would help with something, no matter what hardship it placed upon him, he would do it.
In my association with music legend Bill Monroe, I learned quickly that his honor was paramount in his image.
There was never a bargain struck or a promise made between he and I that he did not make come to pass.
I remember visiting with him before his final illness. He walked up to me and with the strength of a 20-year-old, he squeezed my hand. He looked at me dead in the eye and said, “I tell you man, there are not that many good men left any more. Men like us need to stick together and help each other out.”
More than his praise of my musical ability or all the things he had done for me in my life, those few words conveyed to me that he thought of me as a man of my word.
Working in the world of television and film, I quickly learned the lesson that many Hollywood movers and shakers tend to be the opposite. Most of these trendsetters simply tell you what you want to hear rather than the truth. This trend relates more to the stars and executives of the last two to three decades.
There are and were what I call “class acts” such as the late stars Gene Autry, John Wayne and Roy Rogers whose word was their bond. I wish there were more people like them today.
I cannot tell you how many times someone has promised me they would use me in a movie project, and then when the project came along that promise was forgotten.
I am afraid I have found the same to be true in the “real” world as well.
Sometimes it just makes you want to lose faith in the entire human race when a person tells you he will do one thing and he does another.
In my own life, I have never broke a promise or not followed through with an agreement. Being a man of your word also carries through to fulfilling the everyday tasks that we all do. Returning phone calls, fulfilling requests, replying to mail are just a few of the little things that some folks might miss. I know that I have probably misstepped by letting a few tasks slip when becoming extremely busy that I have said I would do. For those touched by such an action, I ask for forgiveness.
But I also know when I have told someone I would do something; usually such an assurance has popped up in my memory over and over again until I finish the task. There have been times I have carried one of those little things around in my head for a couple of years until I could do something about it.
But no matter what, I always did it.
Despite trends to the contrary and those who we discover are not honorable by their deeds and words, I believe it is the responsibility of every individual to make our communities a place of honor. It is what we owe our ancestors, and those who fight and die for our continued freedom, but most of all its what we owe ourselves and those that will follow.