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Your creed matters

Have you ever read the FFA creed? I don't think I had until I was working on a story for Ag Mag last week.

I believe in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words but of deeds – achievements won by the present and past generations of agriculturists; in the promise of better days through better ways, even as the better things we now enjoy have come to us from the struggles of former years.

Wow, definitely words to live by — looking to the past for guidance and the future for inspiration, working hard to deserve the benefits from others' hard work and to benefit, in turn, those who come after.

Now, you don't have to think farming is 'pleasant' if you don't want to — I've lived on a farm, there are some pretty unpleasant aspects — but if you think there is something missing in America today — and you don't have to look far to find it — here's the answer: Personal responsibility, not only for your own happiness and well being but for those who depend on you,

If you need to learn something in order to be successful, learn it. If you have a need, work to fill it. If you see a need, fill that too.

The words "less need for charity and more of it when needed" really struck a chord with me. We can find ways to help that promote independence rather than dependence, and yet, we should jump to it when we see someone who has a need.

And remember, this isn't about the government or the church or some charity taking it on. It's about a personal commitment to lending a hand to those who are struggling.

I love how the FFA creed asks its members to believe that they can make a difference and that it is their responsibility to participate in making the world a better place.

Do you have a creed? Something you live by that guides your decision making and actions?

There's an old saying, "You've got to stand for something or you'll fall for anything."

OK, it's actually a country song from the '90s, but Alexander Hamilton purportedly said the same thing: "When you stand for nothing, you fall for everything."

Maybe you don't have to champion the role of agriculture in your personal creed, but you can think about what you stand for. I'm not talking about religious beliefs although some people will find it in their church or their scriptures. Others may find it in their experiences because they've been down and out themselves and want to help the way they were helped.

Great Expectations, a professional development program that I stumbled across while looking for examples of creeds — 'cause that's what I do, I like to make little learning side trips as I write, but that's a column for another day — bases a creed on choice, encouraging people to make good choices deliberately and not let things just happen or let others make their choices for them.

I believe that the choices I make today will affect what I will have, who I will be, and what I will do in my future.

(Let me just say, I know absolutely nothing about this organization or their affiliations other than I love the words they use to encourage personal responsibility and they're pretty darned good words.)

As for me, I'm going to believe that people are mostly good and that when we get together we should strive to bring out the best in each other. A group of people who are passionate about something can be a mob or they can be a community. Let's be a community.

I believe that our differences are what make us great. We need people who follow strict deadlines to keep our feet on the ground, but we also need people who follow their own paths to keep our eyes on the sky. And we need people who support us to keep our heads above the water.

I believe we can all succeed, but we need each other to do it. As Mona Lisa Vito said in the classic film "My Cousin Vinny" after Vinny said he wanted to win his first case without any help: You know, this could be a sign of things to come. You win all your cases, but with somebody else's help, right? You win case after case, and then afterwards you have to go up to somebody and you have to say, "Thank you."

I believe that people are responsible for themselves, and especially for their own happiness, but that we are all responsible for each other. We should lift others up, not tear them down.

I believe mental health is health. If you don't take care of your brain, your body will fall apart too.

I believe that hard work is its own reward but so is taking a break when you need one.

I believe the children are our future — You sang that, didn't you? You'll be singing it all day. — and we need to show them, not just tell them, what's right.

What do you believe? Think about it. I believe it matters.

•••

Let me know what matters to you at rsmith@crestonnews.com, 641-782-2141 ext. 6433, or c/o Creston News Advertiser, 503 W. Adams St., Creston, Iowa 50801.

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