Integrity, Character and the Power of Living

April 24, 2004

As many of you may know, it’s been recently reported that Pat Tillman was killed in action in Afghanistan. If you don’t know Pat’s story, in a nutshell, he was awarded a 3.8 million dollar contract several years ago when he was playing football for the Arizona Cardinals. He turned it down to join his brother in the U.S. Army Rangers for 18k a year.

Words cannot express the need for more men and women like Pat Tillman in this country and in the world. In an age where the dollar is the Almighty and status is an SUV rather than the strength of your character, where the number one killer of pregnant women is murder and role-models for our children are the choice between athletes who whine or politicians who lie, men and women like Pat Tillman are the true mark of what it means to be heroes.

I can hope that in the second half of my life, I can have the courage and tenacity to live with the outlook and passion that Pat Tillman lived. Was he perfect? Of course not. He was human just like every one of us. But what strikes me is that Pat Tillman made no excuses. He didn’t let the unimportant things get in the way. His job wasn’t what defined him. Whether professional athlete or soldier he was a man of character. God has graced me with a good many things in my life, many I have scoffed at, many I have abused, many I have ignored. I have terrific friends, a loving (and dare I say amazing) wife. Why is it so difficult for us to appreciate that which is before us and only in the moments that people like Pat Tillman come to light do we stop to consider?

Perhaps I’ve made more of this than is really there. That’s okay, it’s possible. But the fact comes down, plain and simple, to an understanding of what character is. Do we accept less? I don’t think so. Yes, people will not live up to these expecatations and that is where forgiveness comes in and the knowledge that, yes, we are all human. But simply because we’re all human doesn’t mean that we should settle for less. We settle for less and much like the way this country is going today everything begins to cater to the lowest common denominator. Just watch TV if you don’t believe me. Just listen to music.

We should live with this in mind. Always. And we should strive to maintain morals and ideals that are of the highest standards. Anything less is settling.

Pat Tillman wouldn’t have settled. Of that, I’m sure.