“A PROMISE MADE IS A DEBT UNPAID.” From The Cremation of Sam McGee by Robert Service.
My dear old mom would say that if you make a promise, no matter how small it might seem, it is your sacred duty to fulfill it. She also said, “don’t make any promises and you won’t have any to keep.”
This post is not apropos any particular event, just a general observation and lament that we as a culture seem to have lost the belief that a person’s word is his or her bond and that a handshake can be more important than a written contract.
Politicians promise the moon, are voted in, and when they fail to deliver we are supposed to say, “oh, that was just political rhetoric.” Manufacturers promise that they are offering something new and improved when all they have done is lower the quality and increase the price.
It seems that each and every day someone will promise us something that will never come to be. Most promises are small, in the “I’ll call you tomorrow with the answer that you need” category. Little assurances that help to end a request by telling us what we “want” to hear but with never a follow through.
No one is injured and the disappointment soon goes away but a measure of trust is eroded each time we do this or have it done to us. Thus we create a culture of cynics.
In my opinion, disappointment is always the result of unmet expectations. Here we have complete control. The lower our expectations, the fewer the disappointments. This is not a pleasant place to be, we would all like to take everyone at his word, but it is much less stressful.
And so, from my lofty perch of extreme cynicism I hereby decree, I will no longer believe or base action upon any promise made to me until it is fulfilled, nor will I make a promise that I cannot personally keep.
I invite you to join me in this stance and maybe we can get this thing back to where it used to be, to that time when everyone believed that “a promise made is a debt unpaid.”
I’m not a big poetry fan, but Robert Service is my kind of poet! I really love his stuff!
He had a unique voice, indeed.