In response to the kind words left by author and attorney (and fellow Cumberland School of Law alumnus) William G. Hyland Jr. with regard to my review, which can be found here, of his book, “In Defense Of Thomas Jefferson…,” I posted a reply within the comments section of that post which, after some consideration, I felt deserving of its own entry within this blog so that it might reach a wider audience (rather than only those who take the time to read comments).
Mr. Hyland offered a quote from Jefferson which definitely serves as one of many principles to guide one’s life and behavior. The Jefferson quote provided by Mr. Hyland was:
“When tempted to do anything in secret, ask yourself if you would do it in public; if you would not, be sure it is wrong.”
Though familiar with that quote, I also remembered perhaps one of my favorite pieces by the late Jerry Clower which also, profoundly and powerfully, yet humbly, accomplishes the same purpose.
Thus, for your consideration, a bit of wisdom – to be certain, words to live by – from Liberty, Mississippi’s very own, the late Jerry Clower. While so much of the joy that Jerry Clower brought is gleaned from hearing him tell his stories and listening to his bits and pieces of advice, reading his messages in no way diminishes their impact:
“You’re Fixin’ To Mess Up”
“Just recently I had the privilege of doing a show at Samford University in Birmingham, [Alabama]. Some of the young people there said, ‘Mr. Clower, what’s right and wrong?’ Tell us, we’re young people, tell us, what’s right and wrong.
Well you ask a pretty good question.
So I worked me up a rule of thumb I’d like to recommend to my own children, and to young people.
If you’re fixin’ to make a decision about what’s right and what’s wrong in your life, do you ask other people’s opinion about it? That’s a pretty good indication your fixin’ to mess up. I was getting ready for a date one night when I was a little ole boy. And I walked into the side room and I said, ‘Mama, is my shirt dirty?’ She said, ‘Son, if you’re in doubt, it’s dirty. Pull it off and getcha another.’ So if you’re fixin’ to do something, and you want to know if it’s right or not, number one: do you ask other people’s opinion about it?
Number two: do you argue with yourself? Man, I have spent a million mile on the highway arguing with Jerry about I oughta do a certain thing and I knew in my heart, I was lying. So if you’re arguin’ with yourself, pretty good indication you should not do it.
Number three: do you feel uneasy when you do it? Had ya just as soon for somebody not see you doin’ what it is you’d done decided is alright for you to do?
And Number four: Can you give thanks and say ‘Lord, I thank ya for providing this for me.’? Alright, you’d done made up your mind: you’re gonna do it. The Bible says, give thanks for all things. So when you do it, can ya say ‘Lord, thank ya for providing this for me. And I some kinda thank ya, for fixin’ it where I can commit to what it is I’m doin.’?
What is right or wrong?, Do you ask other people?, Do you aruge with yourself?, Do you feel uneasy when you do it?, Can ya give thanks and say ‘Lord, I thank ya for providing this for me.’? If you can’t, you better watch out…You’re fixin’ to mess up.”