The greatest gift is character

November 29, 2019

Happy Black Friday, America! Although thanks to the Internet and early Black Friday deals, Black Friday is no longer stirring as much controversy as it did when it first started encroaching on Thursday night and pulling people away from their family Thanksgiving celebrations.  Merchants have now pushed it so far forward that in some cases, it’s crept past Thanksgiving.  All their Black Fridays deals were sold out by Wednesday! Well, at least it’s no longer interfering so much with Thanksgiving, although at this rate, it might soon be encroaching on Halloween.

(As a reminder, here’s a list of merchants who joined the growing movement to stay closed on Thanksgiving, if you’d like to reward them with your patronage:  https://www.theblackfriday.com/stores-closed-on-thanksgiving-day.php

Like many Americans, I’m making sure I enjoy this holiday with my family and friends by not talking about politics or the “impeachment” circus.  Instead, I'd like to talk about something that doesn't change with the passing headlines.  It's the greatest gift that a parent can give to a child: the gift of character.  This is the time of year when people go out shopping for holiday bargains, and it’s easy to let the thrill of the hunt and the lure of saving a few bucks on the latest gadgets override our good manners and consideration for others.  But if you have character, that’s not a problem. 

Where does character come from?  It’s rooted in parents teaching their kids integrity and respect for others.  And it may not be politically correct to say so, but kids need to be disciplined according to traditional, agreed-upon standards. 

It seems to have become a sad Black Friday tradition to see news stories of people so crazed to get at bargains that they riot or commit violence against each other.  A few years ago at a Walmart in New York, a worker was actually trampled to death.  The crowd even trampled other workers who were trying to help him; and when told the store was being closed because of the death, they shouted curses and just kept shopping. 

If you could turn back the clock a decade or two, I'll bet you would see most of those shoppers as kids, running wild, bullying other kids, sassing their elders...in other words, having no boundaries and being taught no consideration for others.  If you'd said anything to their parents then, they might've replied, "We don't want to stifle their creativity."  Or "We don't want to impose our standards on our kids.  Let them figure out for themselves what feels right to them." Instead of admitting that their kids’ behavior was objectively wrong, they might've tried to rationalize it as being “free-spirited” or needing a Ritalin prescription. Or most likely, they would've just cursed and punched you for daring to question their parenting. 

Children may act as if they resent discipline, but they not only need it, they secretly crave it.  They need parents to instill the Golden Rule, and to teach them that there are certain lines we all must stay within, or else society falls apart. That’s a lesson we’re seeing with frightening clarity recently, with the rise of such groups as Antifa, who think that laws don’t apply to them and that the First Amendment somehow gives them the right to bully and intimidate others into silence. They think there are all sorts of boundaries that apply to other people, but none to them. Whatever feels right to them, they just do, even violence and vandalism.

There are thousands of strips of concrete in every city.  Imagine what would happen if every airline pilot made a personal decision on land on whatever patch of concrete “feels right” to land on.

We live in a time when mass media and social media cause shifts in standards for language or behavior to spread almost instantly.  Suddenly, both living and historic figures are being condemned for not measuring up to some PC behavior rule that didn’t even exist before last Tuesday (are you old enough to remember ‘way back to when it wasn’t considered hateful, bigoted, intolerant transphobia to object to a middle-aged man walking into the ladies’ bathroom when your 13-year-old daughter was in there?)

But we can’t be constantly judging the past by ever-shifting standards of the moment.  As British author L.P. Hartley said, “The past is a foreign country.  They do things differently there.”  The only fair way to judge anyone, past or present, is by an immovable moral standard that’s not subject to the whims of changing fads and opinions.  To do that, children have to be taught such standards.  Standards such as “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  Take responsibility for your own actions.  Try to keep your head even when everyone around you is losing theirs.  These are things that were true centuries ago, they’re true today, and they’ll be true centuries from now.

I once had the importance of such solid guideposts brought to my attention in a way I will never forget. In 1997, Arkansas was struck by a devastating tornado.  As Governor, I was visiting one of the worst-hit towns when State Rep. Martha Shoffner said she had to show me something.  She took me to a courthouse whose roof was completely gone.  Inside was a museum in which everything had been blown away or destroyed…except for one thing.  Still hanging on the wall was my official Governor's photo.  It hadn’t broken or fallen off.  It wasn't even askew.  I took it as a sobering reminder that no matter what disaster might befall our state, it was the Governor’s responsibility to remain steady as a rock and see everyone through. 

The thought occurred to me then that we can't keep storms out of our kids' lives, and we can't teach them to hide from storms. We also can’t let them go on believing that if they scream loudly enough, the storms will give in and go away. All we can do is give them a strong enough foundation so that when life’s storms inevitably come, they'll be prepared to ride them out with a level head and a steady hand. 

Here’s wishing you a safe and courteous shopping day and a happy Thanksgiving weekend! 

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Comments 1-25 of 87

  • Clara Herrin

    12/04/2019 04:19 AM

    I was very happy to see that one of your commentators said that it's more important to be a child's parent (and I would add guide, leader, teacher,) than it is to be your child's 'friend'. Once that child becomes an adult, there's plenty of time left to be his friend...decades. For some strange reason, without any instruction in child rearing from my mother, that concept seemed to be a natural for me. I taught them that their freedom ended where someone else's freedom began. And I stuck to it. Today one of them is a dental assistant who worked for nearly 20 years with little children; my oldest son wound up a Board Certified ER doctor who seemed to be able to 'bring back the dead'; and my youngest son is an extremely talented Aerospace Engineer. Today we are all friends; but it was a long, hard road getting there. No one ever said parenting was a cake walk.

  • Charles Nicholson

    12/02/2019 11:46 PM

    "...they (parents)* might've tried to rationalize it as being “free-spirited” or needing a Ritalin prescription*."
    Governor, you are "right on" about this! A LOT of children are begun on Ritalin or similar medication with no study being done to see if there is "legitimate" need of such medication. Usually the situation is a normal child, acting normally BUT the parent doesn't want to discipline the child and a "complicit" physician, wanting to do something, writes a prescription! That medication can lead to "problems" for the child later in life such as being on record for
    applications for school, employment, etc.! I write from experience as a medical doctor (M.D., FACS; presently as medical examiner for a highly respected profession).

  • Carole sheridan

    12/01/2019 06:09 PM

    Thank you for a great reminder to not let the world dictate us. Our character and how we treat others in times of good and bad stands stronger than anything. We need to remember this as we see the world unraveling around us. We cannot control others behaviour except our own. Being your child's "friend" is not as important as being their parent and an example of what a responsible adult looks and acts like. Keep up the great work you do. It is always encouraging to read your voice of reason. Blessings to you and your family through the Christmas season.

  • Colleeen GEISMANN

    12/01/2019 10:13 AM

    Very well said Governor ! As usual - you hit a home run again ! ! We have the greatest respect for
    you and your opinions. May God bless you and your family ! !

  • steve citron

    11/30/2019 11:23 PM

    Mike;
    As the son of a now lost WW2 Navy Vet, and having grown up in a Military Family, I too am saddened by the seeming lack of respect given to our country, our flag, and even our culture. Today it seems as though so many young people, and even OLDER folks who have NOT experienced the HORROR of war, and and the feelings of helplessness, the loss of freedom can engender, ignore the pain, and the sadness we see as our great country, and culture are eroded by HORRIBLE ideas of socialism, and Communism. Yes, I am a post war "Boomer", and cry a tear at the thought that today's young, may face the maker, with no excuse for their actions and will spend eternity in pits of fire.

  • Vance Wallace

    11/30/2019 09:02 PM

    PLEASE READ! :
    As Republicans we are all too familiar with all the liberal media constantly pushing their agenda...So, how about someone somewhere (maybe with a Republican view), publishing a real option to counter the vast majority of liberal magazines out there. I for one would subscribe to something like Newsweek or Time magazine with more traditional values and balanced view point. Maybe you know someone...
    Thanks!

  • Robert W Gauer

    11/30/2019 08:34 PM

    Thank you,mike Huckabee, although you're rightfully mentioning the growing negatives of our country's culture, I want to remember your parting suggestion regarding giving others, and not just children, the truth about our real source ot strength and stability in the face of challenging and threatening storms of all sorts. I see mine in the Bible, which sadly, many people disregard in favor of self-aggrandizement. God's advice to us about loving our neighbors as we love ourselves really only carries power if we recognize and accept God's love of us. That's the most powerful love to share, even in a Walmart.

  • Barbara Dempsey

    11/30/2019 06:54 PM

    Someone finally put the truth in print! Thanks Mike Huckabee!!

  • Bill Fisher

    11/30/2019 06:30 PM

    I pray that the good Lord will continue to bless you and your family.

  • Mary Friedrich

    11/30/2019 05:06 PM

    Beautifully said, Governor Huckabee! But, then again, isn't the TRUTH always beautiful?! For TRUTH is Jesus, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life".
    There was a comfort in reading your article, a "comfort food" of verbal expression that nourished the mind and spirit!
    Thank you for reflecting the Lord in the manner in which you conduct your life, in word and action!
    Many blessings to you and your family!
    Sincerely,
    Mary

  • Felicia Tollette

    11/30/2019 03:30 PM

    Amen; and Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. We are thankful for your insight and common sense!

  • John McMillin

    11/30/2019 03:17 PM

    AMEN!

  • Gayle S Danahy

    11/30/2019 01:01 PM

    Thank you, Mike! You are so right, parents need to take responsibility for their children. Teach them right from wrong, to follow the Lord and treat others as they want to be treated.
    Too many think it's my right to be whoever I want to be and act however I want. Our country is falling apart because of those attitudes.
    Again, thank you for standing up for and speaking up about what's right! God bless you!

  • Melinda Long

    11/30/2019 09:56 AM

    Mr. Huckabee--
    this is the GREATEST thing I have read in YEARS!!! and it says it all.
    thank you, sir , for your honesty and faith..
    I had to share to my facebook friends.

  • Carol Hopper

    11/30/2019 09:43 AM

    The Bible teaches us in the end times, people will pull away from God, from what's right and do only what they feel is right. I pray for God to bless our country and our leaders that they may turn to him for guidance. I pray that if they don't have saving grace from God that they will turn to him NOW before it is too late.

    I love your commentary, especially today.

  • Linda Dixon

    11/30/2019 09:11 AM

    Governor Huckabee common sense is not common any longer, however you proved you still have it. There is still hope if parents and grandparents step up to the plate and do the hard work of teaching their children, at a young age,what's right and what is wrong.

  • Gail Bennett

    11/30/2019 07:46 AM

    Thank you Governor Huckabee for reminding us of the importance of more civil times and that respect for others is still one of the best character builders.
    We appreciate you calming voice in this troublesome time. I pray we will all be more mindful that God’s rules are the only way to live in peace with each other.

  • Susan Gauthier

    11/30/2019 07:29 AM

    How can a member of the Senate running for president can judge Trump is not what they are doing the same ?

  • Valerie Tomlinson

    11/30/2019 12:19 AM

    Thank you for writing about character matters. I wish it was mandatory lectures for future teachers!! Or for junior high classes along with their sex-ed class.

    I raised my 2 kids alone. Every time they went thru the door, they went under a sign that said Virtue and any friend that came over, did , also. Church included. We were poor financially, but they didn't realize how poor until they went away to college, which they had to do on their own. I never made over 5$ an hour while they were home. They are both successful, wonderful adults.

    GOVERNOR, my dad is 95 and would love to give you a copy of his book he just published, after retiring from farming at age 92. How can we get it to you? He hoped you would be President! He is behind Trump, tho and praying for our country and Trump. His book is about his and his 2nd wife's calling to serve as missionaries in Burundi through agronomy and nursing. Faith, trials, and miracles. Years later when they were over there after the wars they were attacked and beaten and dad was left for dead, but they survived. Dad thinks what he has in the book would be of help in some way. He has been a Bible teacher, evangelist, etc every moment he wasnt farming, or working a job. Just email me how to get the book to you. Thank you for all you do. Great humor and music. Dad loves both and used to play guitar and write songs. Always read the Funnies first thing when we got a paper!

  • Robert Crane

    11/29/2019 09:51 PM

    If bullcrap was a band, the Dems would be an orchestra.

  • Karsten Polk

    11/29/2019 09:46 PM

    Kids start as a living sinful flesh. They don't need to be taught wrong, its innate. You let them do what they want they will do what they know. They must be taught right, if want anything good to come from them. They must learn punishment for wrong, reward for right. They will never respect anything or anyone, even God, if they don't learn this things, it is detrimental to their life and eternal soul. I'm thankful we just let go of our last arrow! Our daughter married a man of like faith, neither one played the dating game, they were each other's first. We raised 2 nephews, one is an electrician and the other just started USCG boot camp. Our youngest, son, just finished infantry training and is in airborne school. None of them would be heading in right positive direction with character that had to be taught to them.

  • Deanne Phillips

    11/29/2019 09:34 PM

    Wow! So powerful! Thank YOU! Yep, Godly character and integrity are so missing these days! No rules, total chaos...not what God intended! We all need rules, guidelines, stop signs!!!!

  • Stephanie Staker

    11/29/2019 09:23 PM

    Excellent, Governor. I couldn't add a single word to this. I am passing it on to everyone I know. Thank you. I love reading your newsletter. :)

  • Norman R Able

    11/29/2019 09:16 PM

    I appreciate your every newsletter & your encouragement through them. I praise God that we are able to read someone as stimulating as Mike Huckabee. This one on "Character is the greatest gift" is your very best one! John Wooden said, "Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there." He added: "You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him." Helen Keller said, "Character cannot be developed in ease & quiet. Only through experience of trial & suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, & success achieved. Again, thanks and Lord bless you and your family

  • Joyce Birch

    11/29/2019 07:27 PM

    Happy Thanksgiving Governor. Great newsletter. We had a great & thankful Thanksgiving. I just adored my 5 grandchildren (4 boys & 1 girl). Youngest 15, oldest 22. We had a mountain of good constructive conversations & many laughs. We had NO POLITICAL conversations, it was great. BTW, I don't do Black Friday shopping, stopped that many years ago. I like calm, no pushing, & long lines.