“He’s down on his luck. Give him a chance,” my father used to say, values learned in a small West Texas town during the Great Depression. At a time when lessons from that era are being relearned daily, it strikes me that the information age is a hindrance in many ways.
In my father’s day when someone new came to town no one did a background search or checked the NCIC files—such things didn’t exist. Bankruptcy, judgments, even jail time were not an automatic barrier to entry unless the new comer had failed to mend his ways.
You may say this is risky and that it’s better to weed out bad apples from the start. But, I’d venture that most people would give more weight to today’s deeds than yesterday’s misdeeds. Probably because they’d like to be treated the same.
Texas has always been a place where people came for a fresh start— Bowie, Crockett, and Travis to name a few. If their past had disqualified them from service to the new Republic we might be mailing our income tax returns to Mexico City.
The next time you meet a stranger, ask him where he’s headed not where he’s been. My dad loved Will Rogers who once observed, “Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today.”
I know that somewhere up there he and Will are still pulling for folks who’ve been bucked off. When you run into one, help them up. The next time it may be you that needs a leg up.
Malcolm D. Gibson
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