Character Counts

I remember when my mom was alive, she used to say that you could measure the character of a man by how he treats those below him — those who likely could do little for him. My usually more blunt Italian dad would say, "It's easier to suck up than suck down." But both highly valued simple decency, to the simplest folks.

I'll never forget my mom watching Nelson Rockefeller's confirmation hearings — I guess when he was Gerald Ford's vice presidential pick in 1974.

The hearings completely turned her off to Rockefeller, not so much for what he said, but how he acted. She wouldn't stop talking about the way he snapped orders at subordinates for documents or information, usually without once looking at them.

It was a little thing, but it was a major turn-off thing for my mom.

To this day, I tend to judge the greatest leaders by how they treat the littlest people — people who can do nothing for them, yet still mean something to them.

Sometimes it's as insignificant as a smile, or a handshake, or "have a good day." But such pleasantries mean the world to those who are not necessarily movers and shakers in the world.

My parents used to bang into my head that, "to those much is given, much is expected." Not just for those for whom they work, but more importantly, for whom they do not.

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