Ethical Edge

By Russell Williams

Ethical Edge

1948 ~ Doug Williams

They Came My Way
A Masterpiece ~ Being A Friend

“A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature.”

It was 1948. On January 30th, Gandhi was assassinated in New Delhi by a Hindu militant.  In mid-May, the nation of Israel was announced. The famous Berlin Airlift began on June 21st lasting eleven months through early May, 1949. The World Health Organization was established under the auspices of the UN.

Harry S. Truman was elected to a full term as President, defeating John Dewey. He ended racial segregation in the U.S. Military. The famous Kinsey Report on Sexual Behavior in the Human Male was released. An American astronomer, George Gamow, presented the Big Bang Theory to explain the origins of the universe.  Edwin Land invented the Polaroid Land camera.

Columbia Records introduced the first 33 1/3 LP record at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City, with listeners able to enjoy 25 minutes of music per side compared to 4 minutes on a 78rpm record.  Tennessee Williams won an entertainment award for his most famous dramatic play, A Streetcar Named Desire.

America saw two of its most famous icons pass on…Orville Wright and Baseball’s immortal Babe Ruth.

On April 15th Chester and Virginia Williams welcomed their third and last child into the world with the birth of my brother, Doug.  It would not be long before we moved into our new home in Arcadia, a growing post WWII suburb 20 miles east of Los Angeles.  Doug and I would share the same bedroom until the day I got married in August, 1968, with him finally experiencing great joy knowing he would never again have to put a pillow over his head to keep from listening to my snoring!

Families can create the opportunity and environment for siblings to come our way for the long haul and in, doing so, to companion for a lifetime connection.   There is no guarantee that siblings will want to see each other or enjoy each other in their adults years, but Doug and I have been blessed with both experiences.

I believe that the icing on the cake of a special sibling relationship occurs when one sibling becomes for the other a mentor for one of Life’s Big Lessons: nurturing friendships.  Doug has come into my life and the lives of countless others to explore with skillful awareness what it means to accompany others as a you-can-count-on-me-to-be-in–your-corner friend.

Every one of Doug’s friends…who might read this column about this values-driven man… would say that there are few who know this spiritual craft  better than he.  Yes, Doug is a Master of relationships.


By the time Doug was in his late twenties, he had been the Best Man in over twenty of his friends’ weddings.  Is that not unbelievable!  It informs you about his #1 priority…building meaningful friendships…Then and Now and the years in between.

Anyone who gets around Doug for a one-time exchange or for a lifetime of conversations and activities, quickly discovers something transparent  about this man. He communicates an interest in You!   He knows how to do so: He asks questions to engage himself in your world.   And if you want to know about his world…well…get ready for some incredible tall tales told about the crazy world of people.

If you meet Doug only once, you have been blessed!   And you know it!  He simply makes you feel better.  It’s as if when Doug is with you, the Friendship Magician has shown up to sprinkle his angel dust of Good at your feet for you to walk on!

And what if you don’t see this man again for years and then, by chance, your paths cross again?  What happens?  Instantly, he will know your name and speak with you as if you continuing a conversation you had the night before on the phone.

What about who this man is as a friend to hundreds and hundreds when times get tough for you and he knows it.  He will be the one to call to check in.  He will be the one to encourage. He will be the one to make you smile or laugh.  He will simply let you know that there is no one more important to him than you as he comes alongside you.

His close buddies…and there is a group of them… are a Band of Brothers who are bare knuckled in their digs and putdowns with each other whether it’s  while  on the putting greens at Strawberry Farms Golf Course; in a boat salmon fishing in Alaska; or playing Texas Hold ‘Em on Friday evenings at Doug’s place.  Each one of these guys know one thing: Doug is Ground Zero…the Epicenter… of their decades-long friendship bond.

Our Influence for Good is the rudder with which I have been writing these weekly essays in 2012.  Influence is not a positional relationship with others.   By that I mean few of us are called to exercise global, national, or regional influence with our professional and personal life.   Yet all of us are invited to understand how influence can be measured precisely when we focus on the power of One.

My brother, Doug Williams, is a master influencer of the power of One to practice the Good.  He has come my way to model how it works to meaningfully engage ourselves in the life of another.   This skill…which I define as a gift of God’s spirit by which all other life skills are measured… finds expression in Doug as he crafts the unconditional mind and heart of God into relationships he shapes with family and friends, the communities of his interests and his professional work.

When it comes to putting a face on Emerson’s words about a friend, there is one individual I turn to and salute as a Master of Friendship…brother Doug…an extraordinarily good man who has come my way.




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