PARKER: For opinions to matter, you need foundation of principles

As I sit here trying to decide what I might say in my last official opinion editorial as head of our regional chamber of commerce, my first reflection is about the many kind, generous and hard-working people I have met along my journey here in Dayton at the chamber and the years before.  It has been my great honor to have served our community first as an active volunteer and then as CEO these past 26 plus years.  But it is now time to turn over the reins of this business advocate organization to the next generation … to Chris Kershner who is an outstanding choice by our Board of Trustees.

My thanks to the Dayton Daily News for allowing me to share my point of view on hundreds of issues during my time at the chamber.  Many of you agreed with my comments, many probably did not.  But so that you know, the lens I looked through in my commentaries always contained these ten personal perspectives.

Logic – I tried to provide commentary that was based on facts as I knew them, rational with a sense of reason.  I always tried to educate myself about the subject before offering my opinion, but that still did not mean we would all agree.

Free Enterprise System – I make no apologies for believing in America’s economic system of the freedom, hard work and opportunity over any other economic system in the world.  Socialism just doesn’t work for me and it won’t work for America because there would be no incentive to work or take risks and America likes freedom too much.

Justice – I believe our system of justice, with all of its many flaws, still beats the other totalitarianism systems out there.  But we still have much to learn about how we treat each other.  Justice should be fair to all, not for just the few.

Patriotism – Corny as it might seem by other generations, my generation and the ones before me understood the value of living in a free society, one that must be safeguarded at times at a very high cost.  Freedom is not free and must be protected.

Faith – I didn’t wear my faith on my sleeve each day, but that didn’t make me any less a faithful believer.  Our nation’s founding fathers understood the strength of faith and were not ashamed to write it so all could see.  We would best be served by not forgetting that.  I believe a faithless society is a hollow society which has little hope for its future.

Compassion – Anyone who knows me knows I’m a fiscal conservative, but also a social moderate.  One must have a sense of charity, kindness and sympathy for others in need if we are to be a community willing to have heart and show our humanity to others.

Community – We owe a great deal to those that came before us who made our lives worthwhile.  I found a grateful and humble community here in our area and hope we don’t take it for granted … ever.  We should always try to “pay it forward”.

Family – Sometimes I wonder if I couldn’t have done better for my family by staying at home or never standing up or speaking out about issues.  But that just wasn’t me.  I had to learn to balance my life as best as I could.  It was never easy, but was important to be true to one’s self.

Truth – The truth is not always easy to speak because sometimes people get hurt or affected by its outcome.  But the truth is usually one’s best defense and as I was taught at a young age, “the truth will set you free” and remember … freedom is not free, nor is the truth.

Honor – All of the above perspectives make little difference if you don’t do it to honor God or your family, friends or others.  Honor to me is one of the most important determinations of one’s character; and no matter your race, color, gender, religion or other differences, it’s the character of the person that counts most, not those other differences.  One’s character is important … especially when no one is looking.

When I wrote something about our community, I tried to use one or all of these personal perspectives in what I thought would be best for us.  Maybe not all of us … but most of us.  The needs of the many should outweigh the needs of the few.

It has been one of my greatest honors to have served you and our community.  If you were offended by those lens I often peered through, I hope you have tolerance for my or others’ opinions.  I promise you, they were meant to shape or sometimes awaken a different point of view that might be needed.

My sincere hope is that our community will come out of our most-recent economic and health struggles even stronger than before and that we will always take pride in who we are and what we have here in the Dayton area.

Blessings to all those who continue to take up the mantle of service and lead us to an even better and stronger Dayton community.  I hope you will always support them just as you supported me.

Phillip L. Parker, CAE, CCE
President and CEO
Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce

Download a PDF of this article as it appeared in the Dayton Daily News.