Advice

Some things I’ve read and some things people have told me directly have stuck and become part of me much more than others. Here, in no particular order, are most of them. Only one isn’t universally applicable – the one about no paths and no fences applies perhaps uniquely to the Senate. I hope they will mean something to you.

“When you wake up, get up. When you get up, wake up.”
—Howard J. Hicks, my father.

“The only thing an agent has going for him is his word.”
—The senior Customs Agent in San Francisco some time in my first week on the job as a new agent.

“There are no paths and no fences here.”
—William Cochrane, Staff Director of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, sometime during my first week on the job there as a systems analyst.

“The way to survive here is to never make a mistake. You have to make an A every day.”
—Joe Humphries, Staff Member, Senate Finance Committee.

“The reward for a job well done is the opportunity to do more.”
—Jonas Salk.

“Don’t allege what you need not, so you are not called upon to prove what you cannot.”
—William Cochrane, quoting Abraham Lincoln, on an occasion when I was close to going beyond the provable fact in arguing for (or against, I don’t recall) a piece of legislation.

“From those to whom much is given, much is expected.”
—Jesus of Nazareth.

“Treat your enemies as potential friends – and your friends as potential enemies.”
—Balthasar Gracian’s (a Jesuit I believe) “Manual of Worldly Wisdom,” c.1653.

“I prefer to defeat my enemies by making them my friends.”
—Abraham Lincoln.

Most of chapter 16 (Of Bearing with the Defects of Others) in “The Imitation of Christ” by Thomas ‘a Kempis, to the effect that we should patiently bear the defects of others since we expect them to patiently suffer ours.

“…the safest road to Hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”
—C.S.Lewis in “The Screwtape Letters,” (Letter 12, if you’d like to read the whole thing.)

“You have an obligation to tell the truth to those who have a right to hear it.”
—A Jesuitical teaching.

“Do not take liberties with women.”
—Chairman Mao.

Ron Hicks, Parish Verger, St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Washington DC

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