The Most Ethical Person I Know

Published: June 16, 2013

By Jim Lichtman
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Among the papers I received from my New Hampshire students, this touching essay was written by a daughter about her father. Her paper reminds us that sometimes the “everyday” moments in life can have the greatest impact.

Today, I was asked to write a paper on “the most ethical person I know,” and explain why.

“In my 33 years of life, I can say that I have always had this one constant in my life leading me in the right direction, helping me make the right decisions. There were times when I may not have always agreed, but now that I’m older, I can honestly say that the most ethical person I know is my father.

“My father has always been the ‘go to’ person in my life, and he has always been my voice of reason. Whether it was helping me make the right career move, school move, parenting advice or what car I should buy, my father is really the one person that I turn to. For my entire life and for thirty years of his life, my father protected and served on the Concord Police Department. And if you were to ask me, he was the best damn police officer that ever served in Concord. Of course, I’m a little biased.

“I have many memories of my father showing younger recruits around the town and bringing them home for dinner. My father was not only a huge, ethical role model for me; he was also a role model to his peers. I can remember hearing my father give advice to his co-workers and they looked up to him, not because he was their superior, but because they really valued what he had to say.

“In the thirty years that my father worked at the police station, he worked hard, long hours. There were days that I would not see him, but he always found the time to call us and ask how our day was, and if our homework was done. In all those years he only missed one day of work, and that was because of a family emergency.

“Growing up, I was your typical teenager who made typical stupid mistakes, but no matter how stupid or how severe the mistake, my father always had a way of straightening me out. It’s funny looking back on these situations, knowing what I know now, I would not change my mistakes because the advice that I received from him was worth the punishment in the long run.

“I remember one incident when I was a teenager. I can’t really remember exactly how it happened, but one minute my friend and I were at a stop sign, and the next, there was a man on the hood of her car. The man was riding his bike and somehow my friend, who was driving, didn’t see him. His bike was like a pretzel under her car and he was furious. My friend burst into tears, saying that her mom would take her car away if she were to find out.

“The man took pity on her, saying that if she promised to pay for the damages to his bike, he wouldn’t call the police or press charges. Thinking that this was her lucky day, she took the man up on his deal. They exchanged phone numbers and we gave the guy a ride home.

“The following day, my friend was at our house and she told the story to my dad. Even though my father was a police officer, all my friends respected him and always went to him for advice. My father informed her that legally she owed him nothing, because he was riding on the wrong side of the road, but morally she should pay for the damages to his bike.

“My friend liked the idea of not owing him anything, and said she couldn’t afford to pay for the bike, anyway. My father then asked her, how she would feel if the roles were reversed and it was her bike that was damaged? ‘Just because he was legally wrong, doesn’t mean she was totally right. It’s part of becoming an adult,’ he said, ‘sometimes the right thing is not always what the law says.’

“Hearing this caused me respect my father even more. Here is a police officer, someone who should stand by the law, yet he was telling her that the law isn’t always the ‘right’ thing to do.

“I really can’t thank my father enough for making me the person that I am today. He has not only guided me to do the right things in everyday life, he has given me the skill to guide my own children into becoming good people.

“To this day, I still value my father’s advice, and I still look to him to be my voice of reason. Not only is my father the most ethical person I know, he is a person I am proud to call my father.”


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