Dave Burlew: My Sam

As I read “Everyone Needs A Sam,” I could not help but reflect on my personal life.

I was born and raised in a God-fearing Christian home in Topeka, Kansas. At an early age, my parents taught me right from wrong. They also taught me that I would always be held accountable and responsible for all and any of my actions in life. They taught me how important it was to love God, family and friends, and the importance of living with honor, integrity and trust.

The importance of friends was often talked about and often noted that many people never had what was called a “true friend.” They defined “true friend” as a person (non-spouse) who you could always depend on, without hesitation, if your life was in dire straights. In other words, if you were experiencing major financial, marital, employment, religious, social, mental or any other problem within your life, was there one “true friend” you could call upon who would immediately respond with help and without hesitation and/or judgement?

My parents said that if you could at least one “true friend,” you should consider yourself a blessed person in life. I never forgot that.

I played numerous sports throughout high school and later played four years of baseball at Washburn University. I firmly believe athletics helps build character, confidence and discipline in one’s self. I’m still a huge sports fan and it never cases to amaze me when I hear prominent college and professional coaches telling their players “do as I say, not as I do.”

What kind of leader or teacher would do or say something like that? As a kid growing up, I really looked up to my father, as most boys do. If my father had been an alcoholic, drug abuser or womanizer, there is a good chance I would have done the same as an adult. People we look up to, no matter if it’s political, educational, religious or work related, need to lead by example, not be lies, corruption or deceit.

In 1980, I graduated from Washburn with a criminal law degree and a few years later, entered the law enforcement profession. During my 27 years in law enforcement, that last 21 years as a Special Agent with the FBI, I sometimes think back of situations I often found myself in while making arrests and/or serving search warrants.

If not for the grace of God, some of those situations could have left me with serious injury and/or death. I’ve witnessed death, violence, drug abuse, scandals, hate and deceit. I’ve interviewed thousands of people who do not want to be held accountable or responsible for their evil actions.

I think it’s safe to say, at the very least, most of these people do not have any “true friends” in their life. However, I have no doubt it is never too late to change your lifestyle from bad to good. In doing so, you are on your way to finding the love of God, family and “true friends.”

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