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Holten: An act of kindness, pure and simple

Do you know what cynicism is? It is an inclination to believe that people are motivated purely by self-interest. If that's what you tend to think about people, then the world has a name for you. You are a cynic.

Holten Cartoon

Do you know what cynicism is? It is an inclination to believe that people are motivated purely by self-interest. If that’s what you tend to think about people, then the world has a name for you. You are a cynic. You are either Bob the Cynic, Larry the Cynic, or Marsha the Cynic. Any way you look at it, you are cynical and Mr. or Ms. Negative. Then again, perhaps you are a cynic because you don’t do anything unless you get something out of it. If that’s the case, then that would explain your attitude.
You’re one of those people that often times says “Nothing in life is free.” In which case, your message to your kids and your kid’s kids (and everyone else that comes within earshot of you) is that they shouldn’t do anything for anyone because no one is going to do anything for them unless they get something in return. That’s a real nice legacy to pass along isn’t it? Unfortunately it spreads like a cancer. Personally I can’t even count the number of times I saw my parents do things for people just to help them out. So I know firsthand that plenty of people do plenty of things for other people without expecting anything in return. Therefore, I tend to forgo the cynicism in most situations. Such was the case this week when Chuck Kramer of I. Keating Furniture, headquarted in Minot with locations in Dickinson and throughout North Dakota, delivered $43,000 worth of furniture to the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame and asked for nothing in return. Not a thing. Now, as director of the NDCHOF, I was impressed and ecstatic. But I was less impressed with the gift than with the attitude that came along with it. You see, this furniture was handmade by Amish craftsmen and made of old barn wood that is 300 years old. It was accompanied by soft leather cushions and a coffee table, end tables, big arm chairs, couches, high-top tables, hutches, lamps and more. Not only that, but Chuck hauled it in two trucks from Minot and brought along seven or eight people to help carry it up steep stairs to the second floor. And guess what? There is still more furniture on the way and yet, as I said before, he asked for nothing in return. He didn’t ask for a sign by the furniture that says it was donated by I. Keating Furniture, although we have already placed a sign there. He didn’t ask for a display of photos to be posted on Facebook and on the NDCHOF website, although we have already done so and are doing that. He didn’t ask for a column to be written about it, although thanks to his attitude, as you can see, I have been compelled to do just that. No, he didn’t ask for a thing. Now I haven’t known Chuck for very long. But I do know that he comes from a great family because I did go to college with his sister Barb. I also know that his is an interesting story because he went to work for I. Keating Furniture in Minot when he was 14 or 15 years old and now he owns the business and he employs many members of his family there. He also employs the stepdaughter of a best friend of mine. Oh sure, for you cynics out there, who happen to include members of our board of directors, he can write off the furniture as a gift in kind to a non-profit organization and all of that stuff. Still, not every furniture store in the state is lined up at the front door of the NDCHOF and unloading thousands of dollars worth of furniture, are they? Chuck probably understands something that you cynics don’t. And his actions remind me of a Bible quote I once heard that went something like this: Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. In Chuck’s case, I hope this gift comes back to him 10 fold. Do you know why? Because I think he deserves it. Holten is the editor of The Drill and the executive director of the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame. Email him at kholten@thedickinsonpress.com and call him at 701-456-1208.Do you know what cynicism is? It is an inclination to believe that people are motivated purely by self-interest. If that’s what you tend to think about people, then the world has a name for you. You are a cynic.You are either Bob the Cynic, Larry the Cynic, or Marsha the Cynic. Any way you look at it, you are cynical and Mr. or Ms. Negative. Then again, perhaps you are a cynic because you don’t do anything unless you get something out of it. If that’s the case, then that would explain your attitude.
You’re one of those people that often times says “Nothing in life is free.” In which case, your message to your kids and your kid’s kids (and everyone else that comes within earshot of you) is that they shouldn’t do anything for anyone because no one is going to do anything for them unless they get something in return. That’s a real nice legacy to pass along isn’t it? Unfortunately it spreads like a cancer.Personally I can’t even count the number of times I saw my parents do things for people just to help them out. So I know firsthand that plenty of people do plenty of things for other people without expecting anything in return. Therefore, I tend to forgo the cynicism in most situations.Such was the case this week when Chuck Kramer of I. Keating Furniture, headquarted in Minot with locations in Dickinson and throughout North Dakota, delivered $43,000 worth of furniture to the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame and asked for nothing in return.Not a thing.Now, as director of the NDCHOF, I was impressed and ecstatic. But I was less impressed with the gift than with the attitude that came along with it.You see, this furniture was handmade by Amish craftsmen and made of old barn wood that is 300 years old. It was accompanied by soft leather cushions and a coffee table, end tables, big arm chairs, couches, high-top tables, hutches, lamps and more.Not only that, but Chuck hauled it in two trucks from Minot and brought along seven or eight people to help carry it up steep stairs to the second floor. And guess what? There is still more furniture on the way and yet, as I said before, he asked for nothing in return.He didn’t ask for a sign by the furniture that says it was donated by I. Keating Furniture, although we have already placed a sign there. He didn’t ask for a display of photos to be posted on Facebook and on the NDCHOF website, although we have already done so and are doing that. He didn’t ask for a column to be written about it, although thanks to his attitude, as you can see, I have been compelled to do just that. No, he didn’t ask for a thing.Now I haven’t known Chuck for very long. But I do know that he comes from a great family because I did go to college with his sister Barb.I also know that his is an interesting story because he went to work for I. Keating Furniture in Minot when he was 14 or 15 years old and now he owns the business and he employs many members of his family there. He also employs the stepdaughter of a best friend of mine.Oh sure, for you cynics out there, who happen to include members of our board of directors, he can write off the furniture as a gift in kind to a non-profit organization and all of that stuff. Still, not every furniture store in the state is lined up at the front door of the NDCHOF and unloading thousands of dollars worth of furniture, are they?Chuck probably understands something that you cynics don’t. And his actions remind me of a Bible quote I once heard that went something like this: Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.In Chuck’s case, I hope this gift comes back to him 10 fold. Do you know why? Because I think he deserves it.Holten is the editor of The Drill and the executive director of the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame. Email him at kholten@thedickinsonpress.com and call him at 701-456-1208.

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