Archive for February 2016

Tribute to Baby Blue

February 19, 2016
Dr. Steven J. Callis
               She was my first, which like many guys, makes her quite special.  We were
together a couple of years, and I honestly do not remember why we parted ways.
However, I have thought about her many times over the years, and have even dreamt
about her three times in recent months.
          I called her “Baby Blue.”  She was 9 years old when I met her: ’63 Ford Falcon,
baby blue with a white convertible top, royal blue seats, automatic shift on the column,
and a V6 engine under the hood.  I loved that car.  We enjoyed some fun trips together
and made some great memories.
          One night I surprised Baby Blue with a special gift.  My friend Kenny came
across 2 bucket seats from a Mustang, and they matched the interior of Baby Blue.  So
one evening Kenny and Roger came over and “helped me” install those seats, replacing
the original bench seat.  It is amazing what that did for Baby Blue.  She rode better,
drove better, and looked better.  She graduated from ‘cool’ to ‘super cool’ in one night.
I have owned other cars that I really liked, including the truck I have been driving
now for fifteen years.  But my first car was quite special, and in some ways no other
vehicle of mine has compared to Baby Blue.
          Whatever the reason that I decided it was time for a change, one thing is clear
today: I did not fully appreciate what I had.  My age was one reason for that, having too
little life experience to realize the present blessing.  Often we focus too much on the
small dings and minor mechanical issues of life instead of looking beyond to the greater
value of the whole,
          So I am grateful that among the good she gave me, Baby Blue taught me a life
lesson only after I had let her go.  Joni Mitchell sang in her seventies song, Big Yellow
Taxi: “Don’t it always seem to go, you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone…”  But it
does not have to be that way!
         I am blessed with a beautiful wife, three great kids and their families, a loving
church family, nice house, nice truck – – appreciating what we have motivates us to
treasure it, fight for it, and honor it.  Had I learned that life lesson as a teenager, I might
be driving Baby Blue up and down the streets of Douglasville today!
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Why Character Matters to Me

February 16, 2016

by Dr. Steven J. Callis 

                Whether earned by overwhelming accomplishments or awarded by popular opinion, people rise to the top in their field.  Be it sports, entertainment, politics, academics, or business career, our society has made it a practice to recognize and honor the leaders.

                The standard of judgment is normally based on performance or productivity.  The world rankings for professional golf, for example, are objective, based on a sanctioned calculating system.  On the other hand, a “most valuable player” award is a subjective decision that may include criteria other than statistical data.  Recent presidential debates judged by news reporters and political experts seem to be based on a candidate’s policies, debate strategy, and the ability to maintain composure in the stressful moments of the actual debate.  Naming a debate “winner” is mostly subjective, as well.

                There is one element that is, in many instances, not considered when promoting someone as the best, or as the winner: character.  No matter the ability or skill level, I have difficulty backing someone whose integrity is questionable, or whose character and diplomacy are weak.

                Two decades ago a political giant whose immorality captured the news headlines declared that his personal life had no affect on his ability to be a leader in the political community.  Amazingly, many American citizens seemed to agree with him, so reported the media.  Similarly, there often is a superstar athlete in the news for drug abuse, domestic violence, or other off-the-field improprieties.

                The question is this: does it matter?  Those empowered by their fame say that it does not matter.  As long as they perform to the satisfaction of the public and do what they are paid to do, personal character is of no issue.  Do you agree?

                Well, it does matter to me, for a few reasons.  For one, character and integrity cannot be turned on and off like a light switch when a person transitions from private live to public arena.  If a person has questionable morality in private, it will follow him to the office or field.  The two cannot be separated. The outflow from that is lack of trust from the public fan base that it creates.

                Another great concern for me is that our children are watching, and often emulating these giants of their fields, especially those who often are in the public eye.  I recall one NBA superstar who was reminded that he is a role model for America’s youth, responding that he is not a role model, but an athlete; and if a kid wants him to be a role model, that’s the kid’s problem.  How could he not realize that he has no choice in the matter?  Many children and teens want to be superstars someday, and they will follow the example of others who have successfully reached that dream.

                It may sound crazy to you, but my feelings are so strong that I do not even put such players on my “fantasy” teams.  And a political candidate’s character will be no afterthought for me; rather it will play a large role in my vote at every level of government, especially the presidential race.

                Integrity begins at home.  Persons with integrity tend to gravitate to others with like character.  So it really does begin in you and me.  Character; our nation was founded on it, and it must be a part of her restoration.