Dear Next Generation: ‘Great Men and Women Don’t Just Flare Into Existence, They Are Made’

February 16, 2021 Updated: February 16, 2021

My late father gave me this pithy advice while in college, and it has stuck with me some 70 years: “Don’t tell me about your I.Q. Show me your ‘I did!'”

Christopher J. Hoey


Let me begin by telling you some things about me and my family. I am 72 years old (older than I’ve ever been). I have six children, five girls and one boy. There were times when I thought that might be three more than I could afford! They are all wonderful people, hard-working, trying to do their best. Their lives, like most people’s, have not been free of challenges and difficulties, and I am certain there may be more to come.

I must say, however, that so far they have been resilient and have persisted in doing good, something that, for a parent, is priceless! My wife passed away from cancer just over a year ago. She was an awesome artist; her work is in many places, even Europe. She was a class act and a classy lady for sure. I have a brother (four years older than me) who was killed in a tragic accident when 34 years old. He left his wife and five little boys (the oldest being 12) to go on without him. I have three sisters, one younger and two older. My youngest and older sister have both died of cancer. Fortunately, their children were grown when this occurred.

I am not writing about my family to draw attention to them or myself. Many people have had more difficulties than we have. My purpose here is to help the next generation realize that bad things happen to good people, life sometimes deals bad cards, and sometimes life just isn’t fair. Don’t think that your life will be free of adversity—it won’t! Also don’t fall into the trap (so often laid by society) that your problems are always someone else’s fault, even though sometimes they are. If you always think that your problems are caused by someone else, you aren’t likely to fix them. Sometimes you have to look in the mirror to see what’s wrong! It is wrong to want to never have obstacles or challenges, because these are what make us better! The only way a person can become good at climbing mountains is to climb them. To become good at solving problems, you must work at solving them. You see, success is not in never falling, but in rising every time you fall!

The only people who don’t make mistakes are the ones who do nothing, and you must realize what the real danger in doing nothing is—that is, if you do it a lot you’ll get good at it! I once heard a wise man say: “Don’t just be good. Be good for something.” Good advice for us all. A wise man also said, “There is never a right time to do the wrong thing and never a wrong time to do the right thing.”

Each generation has the ability to solve the problems of its time. For the next generation, you are no exception—you can do it! Great men and women don’t just flare into existence. They are made; they suffer losses and setbacks, experience adversity, deal with difficulties; they are tested! Finally, may I take a quote from the author G. Michael Hopf: “Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. And weak men create hard times.”

Richard Nicholas


The only way a person can become good at climbing mountains is to climb them. To become good at solving problems, you must work at solving them. (My Good Images/Shutterstock)

Much is made of “self-esteem” in schools, and policies are formulated to ostensibly promote it, including forbidding the use of certain words, no grading systems, everyone gets a prize, and so forth.

However, these policies in fact have the opposite effect. True self-esteem is built by true learning; mastering a task, skill, or body of knowledge; being held to an objective standard; and being recognized and or rewarded for proficiency and expertise.

When a child is recognized by his or her parents, teachers, and peers as possessing a skill or ability, whether it be in reading, music, sports, etc., the child acquires a feeling of confidence in that particular sphere. The more knowledge, skills, and abilities acquired, the more self-esteem and self-confidence develop. The child grows into an adult more capable of dealing with life’s inevitable ups and downs than one whose “feelings” have been protected from “hurt,” whether real or imagined, and the one from whom nothing was ever expected or required.

The former child, more than the latter, grows into an adult who can say: “I can do that,” “I can handle that,” and “I can cope with that,” whatever “that” may be. Once earned, self-esteem endows the child, and later the adult, with a strong sense of self whose core beliefs in right and wrong are more resilient to undermining or attack by negative influences. A less certain, less secure individual is more easily swayed by that which is wrong or ultimately harmful.

More often than not, evil is disguised and presented to our children as something good and desirable, when in truth it is just the opposite. Self-esteem and self-confidence better enable them to trust their own beliefs and judgment.

True self-esteem also begets self-reliance. It is the self-reliant individual who assumes personal responsibility for choices and actions. When the individual knows that his or her choices and actions are based on what they know to be right, they are more able to withstand attacks upon those choices and actions. Those seeking to promote what is wrong often do so by belittling, humiliating, or in some way harming those who refuse to give in. Ergo, cancel culture.

It is the individual who possesses true self-esteem and self-confidence who is more able to stand fast when under attack. In these troubled times, the ability to stand up for what is right and true is more important than ever.

And that core self-esteem will never be built by removing standards and expectations.

Pat Maru
Alberta, Canada


What advice would you like to give to the younger generations?

We call on all of our readers to share the timeless values that define right and wrong, and pass the torch, if you will, through your wisdom and hard-earned experience. We feel that the passing down of this wisdom has diminished over time, and that only with a strong moral foundation can future generations thrive.

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