President Fox of Mexico garnered the respect of his citizens due to his sincerity and trustworthiness. These two words were his life’s guiding principles. As a result, he went from being an ordinary salesperson to being the country’s president.
Once, President Fox was invited to speak at a university. A student asked him, “Political platforms have always been full of deceit. During your time in office, have you ever lied?”
Fox replied, “No, never.”
The students in the audience all whispered amongst themselves, and some even smirked. They knew politicians always assert their innocence and vow that they are not liars.
Fox did not take offence. He said to the students:
“In our society, it might be hard for me to prove that I am a sincere person, but you should believe that this world still has sincere people. They are all around us. Let me tell you a story. Perhaps you might forget this story soon after, but it has an important lesson for us.
There was once a father who was a farmer. One day, he looked at the pavilion on his field and felt it was too old and broken.
Hence, he arranged for some workers to come and remove it. His son was very interested to see the workers tear down the pavilion, so he said to his father: ‘Dad, I want to watch the workers tear down this pavilion. Can you wait until I return home from boarding school for holiday to remove the pavilion?’ His dad agreed.
However, after the son left home, the workers soon came to remove the pavilion. When the son came home for holiday, he saw that the old pavilion had already been removed. He sulkily said to his father, ‘Dad, you lied to me!’
The father looked at his son with surprise. The son continued, ‘You promised that you would wait until I came home from boarding school to take down the pavilion.”
The father replied, ‘You’re right son, I made a mistake. Let me keep my promise.’
The father got the workers to re-make a pavilion similar to the old one in the old place. Afterwards, he brought his son over and said to the workers, ‘Now, please tear down this pavilion.’”
President Fox said, “I know this father. He was not wealthy at all, but he kept his promise to his son.”
After hearing this story, a student in the audience asked, “What is the name of this father? We want to meet him.”
President Fox replied, “He already passed away, but his son is still alive.”
The student said, “Where is his son? He must be a very honest and trustworthy person.”
President Fox said, “His son is currently standing right here in front of you, Mexico’s President Fox.”
He added, “I want to tell everyone that I will treat the country and every citizen the same way my father treated me.”
The audience gave a roaring applause in response.
(Story Source: Harvard Family Instruction)
We’ve probably all made the mistake of forgetting to keep a promise. Oftentimes, people will find an excuse. “Oh I was busy…Oh I was going to do it, but then something came up… Oh I forgot…”
What makes this father so admirable is that he did not make any excuses. He took responsibility for his mistake and promptly corrected it. Hence, he improved his moral character from his mistake. Not only him, but his son also benefited greatly from his role modeling. Not only his son, but the whole country later benefited.
We would do well to learn from this father’s role modeling and correct our mistakes without making excuses. I talk about my experience doing that in this article. Essentially, I practiced doing the opposite good to make up for my faults. For example, I used to criticize a lot, then I changed to praising others. I used to complain a lot, then I changed to being grateful. Improved behavior is the best apology.
Moreover, we should not underestimate the impact we can have on the world. If we can positively influence one person, that person will influence more people, those people will influence even more people. But regardless of how many people get influenced in the future, the most important thing is that we have a clear conscience because we always do our best to be a good person.