Promises that are kept

Our lives are touched and influenced by all sorts of promises. Some are explicit or even formal; others are more or less implied in given circumstances or by the occasion. In a marriage, for example, there's the stated promise between two people to love, honor, and cherish each other. Or in raising a family, there's the implicit but absolutely fundamental commitment we make from the very beginning to provide our children with the best possible care we know how.

There are many other kinds of promises. People pledge allegiance to their country; workers make assurances to their employers. In turn, government and business leaders assume certain obligations to the people in their respective spheres of responsibility. And don't we often promise things to ourselves—to watch our temper, perhaps; to finish some project we've started; to give more attention to the needs of others; to consider the effect of our actions and consumption on the natural environment around us; and so on?

Think of what it would mean to our lives, to the very fabric of society, if promises no longer carried any real value, if they were easily broken or carelessly abused. Many would argue, in fact, that this is already a serious problem. Divorce rates are high. There are young children left alone and uncared for. There are people who don't pay their taxes; employee pension funds unscrupulously drained for personal profit; another two hundred and fifty acres of tropical rain forest destroyed in the time it takes to read this editorial.

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The forsaken garden
February 19, 1990

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