I have always been drawn to the extracurricular stuff in school.
Now that I think about it, they were half of my life. School paper, school annual, student government, department clubs, college orgs, small groups—I practically lived outside the classroom. And the dorm! It’s a wonder I graduated at all.
For the record, I did not set out for them. I just happened to be “at right place at the right time.” People began handing me positions or nominating me for stuff they believe I could do. Turned out they were right, even if I was sure I couldn’t.
And if it weren’t for the extracurricular stuff, I would never have met some of the most wonderful people in the world. A few of them even became my friends.
But all friendships will face trials. And some are literal trials.
Somehow, it never occurred to me that I would face—not just a jury of my peers—but of my friends. They were people I have known for years, attended the same high school, and had classes and meals together. Suddenly, there were strangers behind those benches. And the only people who were on my side were in another room. And in the same trouble as I was.
Usually, I did the questioning. It wasn’t so cool being in the hot seat.
Exited that room somehow wiser. One must not only learn how to stand up against his enemies but most of all against his own friends.
Yes, I may have fewer of them now. They are the stronger ones. They have fought alongside me and against me—and still came out of it all together. It’s great to have people who’d be crazy with you, even get into trouble and cause a riot. Almost anyone can do that. But not everyone would choose to stand trial with you and refuse to compromise what you believe in.
Makers of men, Creators of leaders. Be careful what kind of leaders you’re producing here. I don’t know if Charlie’s silence here today is right or wrong. I’m not a judge or jury, but I can tell you this: He won’t sell anybody out to buy his future! And that, my friends, is called integrity. That’s called courage. Now that’s the stuff leaders should be made of. Now I have come to the crossroads in my life. I always knew what the right path was. Without exception, I knew. But I never took it. You know why? It was too damn hard. Now here’s Charlie. He’s come to the crossroads. He has chosen a path. It’s the right path. It’s a path made of principle that leads to character. Let him continue on his journey. You hold this boy’s future in your hands, committee. It’s a valuable future. Believe me. Don’t destroy it. Protect it. Embrace it. It’s gonna make you proud one day, I promise you. (Lt. Col. Frank Slade (Al Pacino) in “Scent of a Woman”)