Living by two simple rules

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Jason Twing
  • 9th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
Life is full of rules we must follow in accordance with the law and we have our own set of rules we live by based on principles extending from our faith, our upbringing, or a mixture of both. The two rules I want to impart upon you are very simple. They read like so, and if you have had me as a Shirt for awhile these will likely sound familiar. The first is "nothing good happens after midnight" and the second is "you are known by the company you keep."

These two simple rules were passed down to me by my father, a retired Army officer, who although was a stern man when it came to discipline, also gave me a lot of latitude while growing up. Some would say he gave me a lot of rope, if you get my meaning. I constantly ignored the first rule my father gave me, with the natural rebellion any teenager has toward their parents. I would stay out past midnight and the only thing it ever got me, was....well, I won't go into details, but it is not too dissimilar from what I see in a lot of our young Airmen. Their problems range from DUIs to bar fights to acquiring the latest sexually transmittable disease to hastily and somewhat poorly planned criminal activities and everything in between. The common themes here are they all attend a function where alcohol is typically the key ingredient to a recipe for trouble and they stay out late. How late? Well, past midnight of course, in complete and utter violation of rule number one. Another common theme is they are typically with their company of "friends" on these special occasions.

My father's second rule was a little less simple than the first as it deals with examining the company you keep versus a self-imposed time constraint. Think about what qualifications you think a person should have to remain in your good graces. Sit down and make an honest list of questions you need to ask yourself about the company you keep. A question such as, does this person partake in any particular extreme or illegal addictions (i.e. drugs, alcohol, criminal activities, etc.)? You may laugh, but according to the Airmen I've seen over the years some fail to ask that very question right from the start of their relationships. It takes them to all kinds of wonderful vacation spots, like the emergency room of a hospital, a jail cell, or better yet, the morgue. Other questions you may want to ask yourself could involve your friend's integrity, their employment history, their education level, or what company their friends keep. It is up to each person to come up with their own series of questions as all of our faiths or values we gain through life are different.

Barring our differences though, the rules remain the one constant, where if followed, they will save you from a lot of head and heart aches. The two rules are likely the easiest you'll ever have to follow, even if they are the ones folks break the most. After a few years away from my father, those rules started to make sense to me. My rebellious years faded like so many bad memories and I grew the heck up. I have found myself living a fantastic life in the United States Air Force, only staying out past midnight when an emergency dictates it and I managed to distinguish myself not by accolades or rewards, but through the friendships I have made and kept throughout my career. I'll never waver from the two rules my father taught me and I hope you will put your own faith and upbringing into living by what I consider two of life's simplest rules.