Photo by Ken Anderson

The Importance of Character

Recent events have led me to center my blog today on something I think is rather important. I believe that every generation looks back on the preceding generation and says to themselves, “Wow, look how far we have fallen.”

I think of my grandparents’ generation – THE GREATEST GENERATION. They are universally accepted as the greatest generation for good reason. Circumstance thrust them into action, self-sacrifice and resolve to do what had to be done – a whole generation collectively going through the “refiner’s fire.”

Character. Character was forged like a blacksmith forging steel, pounding the heated metal, over and over and over again, until it is forged into the desired and destined shape.

Not long ago, Mr. Buster Welch – a true living legend – enjoyed his 90th birthday and was celebrated with his friends and family. I saw photos of his party, which looked like a grand happening, celebrating one of the greatest and most inspirational figures to ever ride a Western saddle.

I have no idea how many people Buster has influenced. I have never had the honor to meet him, but he has influenced my life. Who knows, without Buster, perhaps cutting would have not grown to where it is today. If it had not grown to such heights, I probably would have never heard of a cutting horse and would still be going to racetracks. And without cutting horses in my life, I certainly wouldn’t have known reiners, nor attended the World Equestrian Games as an owner of a competing horse (RC Fancy Step).

I could go on and on with a long list like that. So, I thank Buster from afar. Thank you for influencing my life. I presume Buster is a great man of character and action; if he were not so, he would not have attracted so many great people in cowboy hats and spurs – molding a legion of people with a love of horses, hard work and team spirit. No one that has ever tasted success in the Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum ever did it on their own. Good luck marking a score by yourself.

I love my country. I love America. I love what America stands for. My heart aches for how divided my country is right now. It’s not good, folks. I look back on the greatest generation, and I want to hide my face in shame. We’ve lost our moral compass. We have lost our character. We’ve lost what it means to just do what is right and let the consequences follow. Being right at all costs is just that – all costs.

I believe horse people are a step up in character from most. I believe that because of what I have witnessed in my life. Recently, there have been some terrible tragedies that have affected our great horse family. First, the tragic loss of the Sillivent family’s 2-year-old son; I can’t even imagine their pain. Then the horrific accident in Australia, in which Ken Smith was killed, and horses were lost and maimed. My heart breaks for the Smith family and the owners of these horses, not only with death but the repercussions of this tragic accident.

With how awful these tragedies are, the greater horse family is stepping up. GoFundMe campaigns were launched. Support, love and help were and are in abundance. Countless prayers call for providence and grace daily. I love my horse family. Y’all are awesome. I personally have been touched when my family experienced the deaths of my brother and sister.

Character. I will do all in my power to influence my children and those I associate with to do what is right, to have character. Mother Teresa is absolutely correct – “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.”

I came across the following Lorenzo Snow quote and felt it quite profound:

“You exert a certain degree of influence, and be it ever so small, it affects some person or persons, and for the results of the influence you exert you are held accountable. You, therefore, whether you acknowledge it or not, have assumed an importance before God and man that cannot be overlooked.”

Whether you can influence one, 1,000 or 1 million – just do what you can. Be kind. If we but follow the Golden Rule, man oh man, what this world could be!