Good man! Sometimes you hear that at a ball game when a player does something very good at a very critical time. Sometimes when someone finds your wallet under the trash can that you thought was lost. “Good man!” you might say. A salesman closes the big deal and saves the month’s business. Your son gets a scholarship or simply passes 8th grade. Good Man!
Then, there is the use of that phrase to describe the kind of person someone was or is. An attempt to make known the quality of person that phase is being directed to. A phrase used to explain the nature of someone when there are no words that seem to suit.
A Good Man. Of course, there are the Good Women too. But we just don’t hear that expression “Good Woman” too much, more “Good Girl” which can be poorly received by some of the females but we will address that another time.
A friend sent me a handwritten letter today. The kind few people send or receive anymore. It was not done on a Word or WordPerfect word processor but with a pen and ink of some variety and it had some nice things to say that I will keep private here. But, it stopped me long enough to think about his comments on a conversation he had with another old friend about whether we have amounted to much in our lives or not. What would people think about us and did we make a mark or will we be remembered fondly, if at all. As we reach the “short rows” of our lives, in reflection, did we do good, bad, or do nothing at all? This question was being posed by a man who has traveled more and seen more than most any 10 people you know.
Then this brings us to the question: What is a “Good Man”? What are your criteria for calling someone such? Could it be fame, fortune, career success, business or money? Maybe we are running in thin air here and the answer will always be elusive.
Would one aspire to be President? In past years I might have said yes but with what is happening today it does not look like the “good guys” will ever run for or be elected President again. Scum bags run, get elected, and we like it that way it seems. So that may be out as a goal or a standard of accomplishment.
I read an article some years back where someone had interviewed J. Paul Getty who was among the richest people in the world at the time and they asked how it felt to be so successful or something to that effect. He replied, as I paraphrase a bit, that he did not consider himself a success because he had not accomplished the one thing in life he really wanted: a happy marriage.
An old friend of mine was retiring and by all normal measures he was a success with several businesses and a nice lifestyle. When I asked what he was planning to do after he handed over the reins of the businesses, he said he was now going to do what he had always wanted to do: have a garden and raise tomatoes. He achieved success long after everyone else thought he had already done so.
I have been privileged to know some “Good Men” and none of them had a lot of money or fame. But they were men or character and made you feel that you were someone of worth, too. They had that mark of character back in Sandy Point when a handshake on a deal locked them in for life. One really rich guy I knew said he started a business because he could not tell his kids what he did for a living and was embarrassed by it as he lived on inherited wealth and had no job to go to. The business failed eventually and he blew his brains out later. He could not live up to his own expectations. A Mercedes, a nice home in a nice section, a wife, kids in private school, and more money than he could spend were not enough.
Who is it that you hold in high esteem, look up to, admire most and would most like your son or daughter to be like? I would say that would be the question that would set someone apart; the person whom you would name to fill in those blanks.
It might be surprising whose name you would put down. It might be a teacher, a pastor, a father or mother, a grandparent, an uncle or a neighbor. It might be the person at the hospital or the cafeteria. And the person might be known to only a few people but has some way shown you what an example looks like. It might just be someone who is kind, loving, caring, helpful, loyal, and honest. Maybe a poor someone but someone of character. Not someone in the limelight but someone who is always just close enough by when you need them. Maybe it’s someone who takes you as you are and you don’t have to use pretense or feel the need to outshine them and you don’t mind when they do the outshining. Someone who encouraged and did not discourage.
Maybe it’s someone who has only one thing going for them and you can only describe that thing as character. Maybe it’s that “Good Man” you met and were glad you did.
Tombstones often have little sayings chiseled in the stone to tell people walking by about the person buried there. Maybe they can list all your accomplishments, degrees, properties, positions and civic club affiliations. Maybe. But, maybe the best thing they could put on yours or mine would be “Here lies a Good Man and he was my father or husband or brother, or friend.”