Newsline , Society

Managing Fate

Posted on Wednesday, May 15, 2024
by AMAC, Robert B. Charles
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A recent memorial service, for a veteran, friend, outdoorsman extraordinaire, and quiet protector of kids, kindness, and values, awakened in me appreciation for what we are losing, all of us. He was the parent of two close friends, and in that way, as in those days, another parent of mine.

What we are losing, whether we see it or not, is more than precious people, each irreplaceable for their presence, examples of sacrifice and self-reliance, content in storms, quick to conceive and achieve big things – quick to teach anyone how it is done. We are losing the values themselves.

To some that may seem a pithy observation, not worth much, just a reflection on a person who managed to see the light, live by it, manage fate, and regret only what he could not fix, find, or give away. But I think there is more. If we want to preserve the values we admire, we must live them.

Put differently, when we hear about someone who took a tract of land and cleared paths for hiking, skiing, horseback riding, and snowmobiling; who imagined a spring as a pond, so created one, stocked it, then angled it from a stump, thinking about the joy of doing just so; who was able to put the whole world aside for his family friends …  we should take his measure.

That measure should be our measure, the idea that we are – to a greater degree than we admit, perhaps want to admit – in charge of large parts of our destiny, what we do with each day, how much we care to care, see and feel what others do, treat them right, and want to be there.

If some things are beyond us, that much is not. We can decide we will enhance life, better the land, place the call and answer it, take a risk, rise to moments, admit limits, and do what we can.


This is what my friend, like a surrogate parent, and his wife, always did. Army and engineering behind him, he had projects and goals, loved dogs, hunted with them, and was filled with adventure. They raised two boys, a dozen others in the wings, and taught love of the woods, as we should.

One son rose to speak about how his father’s love of nature, life, kids and wife, hunting and fishing, tackling challenges, taking risks, doing what others don’t but wish they did, seeded, saved, and soon gave to him the courage to do the same, carry forward values at any cost, otherwise lost.

Perhaps the moment that triggered this column, however, was when another adult rose and described what this man, in his humble, happy, doing, and daring way, striving every day.

In a way, this man did not have to strive, because the values listed were in his nature, wisdom not to tip a boat, the balance of city things with being remote; not too much hurry in his step, leaving time for laughter, a good dose of wind, woods, and water, always a reliable antidote for worry.

As he recited them, the list that this speaker spoke, was clear as a loon, tall as a Maine tree, pleasantly, oddly familiar to me. It was a set of values that – not long ago – every boy who joined scouting knew, and was proud to recite, sometimes inspiring awe – The Scout Law.

You see, this departed friend and surrogate parent was a man of humility, character, outdoorsman to the end, father, husband, and patriot, who understood values, and how keeping them close brings inner peace, even elation, sure as he admired the magnificence of God’s Creation.

He did not speak that way, but the list was this. “Trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.”  And there you have it, what we are missing in one tight list, each one a simple trait, and how a wise man manages fate.

Robert Charles is a former Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell, former Reagan and Bush 41 White House staffer, attorney, and naval intelligence officer (USNR). He wrote “Narcotics and Terrorism” (2003), “Eagles and Evergreens” (2018), and is National Spokesman for AMAC.

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7 days ago

RBC, this is a very good memorial piece for a friend. This was a good reminder of traits about my father who passed away in 1996 from complications of asbestos cancer from his Navy days. I had good mentors that had these traits that have been instilled with me during my lifetime. Thank you for a wonderful article.

Rob citizenship
Rob citizenship
7 days ago

Praise for Robert B Charles for this article praising a friend who stood for good character , advocated what was right, and had values that inspire others to do what is right. This is the sort of strength, courage, wisdom and understanding that is always needed. It brings forth a sense of humor – the sort of sense of humor that is an appreciation for life itself, for being alive ,for being able to experience new adventures, new situations with a sense of joy. A sense of achievement is part of this outlook too. When we strive to do the best we can, knowing that we are helping what is honorable, helping to keep the ideals of Faith,Family and Freedom alive and healthy – then that provides for a sense of purpose that is a light that guides the way . Noble thoughts. Well done !

6 days ago

Thank you for this tribute to a great man. It puts me in mind of my days in Boy Scouts when I had a similar troop leader. We were young and impressionable and his teaching, character and example remain imbedded in me to this day – 60 years later. We, men such as you and me and so many others, were so incredibly fortunate to grow up with our lives shaped by such men. I hope and pray there is a new generation of leaders like them to shape today’s youth.

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