of RED RIVER VALLEY
|August 2007 Character Quality -- Security
|the following editorial article was written by Gloria Cooper for publication in The Paris News --
Hugh O’Flaherty peered behind his shoulder as he made his way along the stone wall
separating him from the German guard post. Several miles behind him was the Vatican, directly
in front was a tumble-down shack. Inside the shack, local resistance had sheltered escaped
prisoners of war. Now, O’Flaherty had to transport them safely back to the Vatican before the
cloudy night gave way to early morning light.
Hugh O’Flaherty was actually a Catholic priest - a special protégé of the Pope. When WWII
broke out across Italy, Father O’Flaherty used the Vatican’s special privilege as ‘neutral’ to
harbor refugees from Poland, prisoners of war, Jews, and anyone else who needed shelter from
enemy soldiers. Despite threats and limitations by Colonel Kappler - the commanding officer of
O’Flaherty’s district - the faithful priest rescued over 4,000 men, women, and children from the
grip of tyranny that had enslaved millions of others. In a time when pushing the time limits on
curfew was punishable by death, O’Flaherty’s stand was more than admirable. These times
were full of uncertainties and insecurities. However, he considered his cause to be of much
more value - saving the lives of the ‘untouchables’ - than his own personal safety.
Security is building my life around that which cannot be destroyed or taken away. Let us stop
and think for a moment about what things really cannot be destroyed by physical circumstances.
We should direct our efforts toward building and caring for our character. A good name is better
than riches, and a good character ensures a good name.
Our goals determine our actions. If we set our sights on truth and integrity, we will be secure in
the firm foundation of moral principles. We need security in our relationships. We can
accomplish this by building them around good character and moral values. This type of
relationship can withstand the many storms of life.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Don’t waste life in doubts and fears; spend yourself on the work
before you, well assured that the right performance of this hour’s duties will be the best
preparations for the hours and ages that will follow it.” When we set our focus on others needs,
we take our gaze off our own petty situations and ourselves. Now, regardless of the
uncertainties around us, we are able to see the real issue at hand. First, we should set goals
for our families, our work places, and ourselves. Once those goals are in position, we then need
to begin practicing practical ways to accomplish them. When times get tough, remember, the
only way out is through. No man has ever solved a problem by leaving it unresolved for another
to take his place. We all like the idea of being the hero of the day - the strong in face of the
battle and the brave in face of the storm. By applying strong moral principles to every area of
our lives, we then have the potential to be a fortress for others. Father Hugh O’Flaherty
understood these concepts, and through his determination, inward peace, and security, he
never lost a man. “He who saves his life will lose it, and he who loses his life…will find it.” ~ The
Gospel of Luke.
Portions of this article have been adapted from Character First! material. For more information about the
Character First! program and resources contact: Character Training Institute, 520 W. Main Street, Oklahoma
City, OK 73102, (405) 815-0001. Visit the Character Council of Red River Valley at www.character-paris.org.