What the World Needs Now . . .
By Doug Doerr
A young man (we’ll call him Henry) approached the old man who lived down the lane and asked to keep his horse on the man’s land. The older man had over 10 acres of hilly land that would easily support one horse grazing, so he agreed.
Well, before he would allow Henry to put the horse in the pasture, he walked the fence surrounding the pasture (all 10 acres of it) to make sure the horse couldn’t get out. As luck would have it, there was one place where the fence was broken. Well that wouldn’t do, so he proceeded to fix the fence. The broken part of the fence was in a remote area, not accessible by a road or path, so he had to lug the materials by hand. He asked his son for help, but his son didn’t have the time and said “Why not get Henry to fix the fence, after all, he’s the one who wants to put his horse in the pasture.” The old man thought about it, but so far as the old man was concerned, the promise he had made meant that the horse would be safely secured. Without the fence being mended, he could not fulfill that promise.
So the old man spent a day lugging the materials out to where the fence needed mending, and another day fixing the fence. All so that Henry could put his horse in the pasture.
Through all of this, there was no written contract, just a handshake and a verbal agreement to let the horse graze in the old man’s pasture. There was never any discussion or agreement about the security of the pasture or the condition of the fencing. The agreement the old man made with Henry mentioned none of this, only that Henry could put his horse there. But the older man believed that security of the horse was implied in the agreement, so this understanding drove him to fulfill what he believed the agreement to be. He didn’t try to escape the deal, he didn’t try to evade what he saw as his responsibility, he didn’t try to renegotiate it, and he didn’t try to push his responsibility onto Henry. This is the definition of honesty and integrity that I try to live by. You might see this as foolish, but when people call for a return to simpler times, I don’t think that they’re really talking about less technology or slowing the speed of change in our lives, but a return to a time when how we deal with others mattered. In that light, we should make honesty, integrity, civility and respect the cornerstones for how we should treat people.