I was a Syracuse boy. When attending reunions or other City functions, I loved the activities planned for youth. But as I grew, I developed a fascination of sitting with the older folks to hear the stories people tell. I’d like to share a story from boyhood.
Syracuse boys knew nothing of video games or other electronic devices. Our first toys were rocks! We built with them. We threw them, hit them with slats from tomato boxes, shot them in flippers and slingshots. We flung them at birds, dogs, cats and on occasion at each other. At eight years, most graduated to BB guns.
One afternoon as I departed on my daily bird hunt, I spotted a feral chicken roosting in the old coal shed behind our home. To my boy mind, the hen was simply a bird, but a bigger, grander trophy. I shot her dead! Mother would be proud. It would be my favorite tonight for supper, chicken noodle soup over mashed potatoes!
When I lifted my dead prize from her roost, I discovered a clutch of six chicks she’d been guarding. Suddenly, I felt sick. My boyish mind didn’t know what to do. I did the only thing I trusted in. I found Mother and showed her what I’d done. I knew she’d know the right thing to do.
We did have chicken noodle soup over mashed potatoes. But I was charged with building a brooder and watching over six chicks until they were self-sufficient. Mom made me the dead hen’s surrogate.
My mother taught me a life-lesson that day. Her teaching is contained in a statement by US Chief Justice, Potter Stewart:
“Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have the right to do and what is right to do.”
It’s arguable, that I had done nothing wrong! The hen belonged to no one. Feral chickens were common in the day. Perhaps I had a right, after all her sacrifice did feed our family.
After listening to Mother’s counsel, I learned the truth. Given the circumstances, what I did that day was not the right thing to do. I love this quote from Dr. Wayne Dyer: “When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.” I had not been kind.
I am delighted to serve with a City Council that each loves this city and seeks the best interest of its populace. I have great respect for them. Each brings strength to that body. It’s also clear they subscribe to Mother’s teachings.
It has been my pleasure to serve the community the last four years as a member of the City Council. I’m now deeply honored to serve as Mayor. Thank you for your confidence. The next four years are going to be critical in what Syracuse becomes as the West Davis Corridor changes Syracuse from the cul-de-sac community it’s been, to the crossroads it will become.
I loved my mother’s preserves, especially apricot. Gone are the days when I could sample them. Luckily, she preserved more than fruit. In my mind, preserved forever, are stories that smack of what used to be. You old-timers: help others acquire the taste of our community. They will only know what was via the stories you will tell.
Mayor of Syracuse City
*Posted with permission from Syracuse.com