PORCH SWING POINT OF VIEW: Promises


When I began writing this column, I made a promise to several people and to myself that I would not write about politics.  And unlike most political promises, that is one I intend to keep. 

Sure, politicians get a bad name when it comes to keeping promises, but are most of us much better?  It seems to me there are two groups of people:  promise-makers and promise-keepers—the latter making up an unfortunately small subset of the former.  Perhaps it’s not for me to say, but it occurs to me that a few more promise-keepers could do our world a great deal of good.

What was the last promise you made?  A promise to call or write an old friend?  A promise to help a neighbor with a chore?  Or a promise to be only a phone call away to someone in need?  Those are all important promises, and we should strive to keep our word when we make them, but sometimes we falter.  Though still we go further.  We double-down on commitments.  We continue to make far bigger, far more consequential promises in our lives.  And without much better results.  Signing an auto loan or a mortgage is, after all, simply a promise to pay.  In fact, that’s where we get the term “promissory note.”  And what are wedding vows but a series of promises to a spouse?  We enter into many of these promises with a great deal of reflection and seriousness, and rightfully so, but still there are those who fail to make good on those promises as well.  Loving and caring in health and wealth is easy—in sickness and poverty, well that’s a different challenge altogether.

Finally, there are those special breeds of promises that we make with a certain casualness or nonchalance, usually because we never expect them to “come due,” never expect to be placed in a situation to keep those promises.  Surely, if we felt the mortgage would never come due, we’d buy a bigger house, and if we never expected to be called upon to fulfill our marriage vows, there would be no need to make them.  You see, promises aren’t easy to keep.

But then the rubber meets the road.  Those promises we made years ago, seemingly of no consequence at the time, “come due.”  Action must be taken.  Do we keep those promises?  Or do we shirk from our duty and our word, claiming a sort of “promise statute of limitations?” 

It’s been said we’re only as good as our word, and I take that very seriously.  I expect many of you do too.  So, the next time you begin to make a promise, give it careful deliberation first, so that when the time comes, you can step up and step forward with the confidence and assurance of one who keeps his promises. 

I look forward to our chat again in two weeks.  I’ll write to you…I promise.

 

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