where character counts and integrity is the keystone

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Responsibility

This story begins in a small village in the south of France. It is in the early 1940’s and the advancing German armies are threatening all who appear in its way.

At a town meeting, the entire village decided that they did not want to be overrun and become prisoners of the Germans. Thus it was decided that they would flee. They knew that if they could go to the south and escape over the mighty Pyrenees mountains into Spain, they would be safe and would be spared from the domination that would surely be theirs should the Germans catch up to them. With this in mind, they gathered their few belongings and headed toward the Pyrenees. As they came close to them, they had made arrangements to engage an experienced mountain guide to lead them through the passes and up and over the mountains into Spain. The guide was met and the long trip began.

As they moved through the mountains and ever upward, the weather became more inclement, and it became more difficult for this tiny band of ill prepared and unfit villagers to make such a heroic effort. As they struggled onward, their progress became slower and slower. The German army, finding what was going on, was moving nearer and nearer to them.

Finally, as they were well into their climb over the mountains, one of the old men of the village just dropped from exhaustion and despair, saying, “I can go no further.” At this, the trained guide went up into the rest of the villagers and took from a young mother her baby. He walked back to the old man who had fallen and thrust it into the man’s arms. He said “now take care of it.” He turned and walked away. The old man, sensing that now he had someone who he was responsible for, someone who he had to take care of and make sure that the young baby reached safety, soon overcame his self pity and concern for himself, struggled to his feet and marched forward with the rest of the village. They managed to make it over the Pyrenees and into safety. The old man’s exhaustion, self pity, and feelings of inadequacy all vanished when he was given the responsibility to care for someone else.

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