I learned about “respecting all you meet” from my Dad. Social standing, financial wealth, title, race, ethnicity, or whatever didn’t matter to him. He was friendly to all he met, and he met many. His perspective was grounded on basic human rights and dignity.
Born in 1924 and growing up poor in the aftermath the 1929 stock market crash and Great Depression, he understood that economics may place a value on a person’s labor, job, or title, but that character is the true measure of a man. Because he was once downtrodden, he went out of his way to greet and uplift those with struggles.
His genuine interest in others showed. Walking with my Dad through the streets of downtown Pittsburgh was an experience. Using first names, he greeted building janitors, newsstand vendors, politicians, government workers, waiters, and business persons alike. A brief chat often ensued about life, work, and Pittsburgh’s many college and professional sports team.
Dad knew peoples’ life stories were still being written. Where a person starts does not define where they will finish. As result, my father was charitable in spirit and finances to the needy and the church.
This Thanksgiving, I give thanks for the positive influences of my father (and mother who died in March) for modeling gratitude and generosity.