The incident happened when I was about 10 years old, playing touch football in front of my parents’ home. After dropping a pass that should have been caught, I dropped an s-bomb.
Unfortunately, my mom was on the porch and overheard the comment. Ten minutes and a mouth full of soap later, I returned to the game. Safe to say, my post-cleansing commentary was far less colorful.
It doesn’t seem like that event took place very long ago, but those were clearly different times. And at the risk of sounding like a grumpy old man, I do believe children then were held more in check.
The nuns where I attended grade school would put up with exactly zero nonsense from their charges. We were repeatedly given ample doses of what might be called old-school instruction: Tell the truth, honor God, do what’s right — even if it’s not so easy to do, and above all, be an honorable person. Or else.
I was thinking back to those relatively innocent times while taking in the gaslighting events better known as the Democratic and Republican national conventions. To suggest many speakers were not strangers to revisionist history would be an extreme understatement. But to be fair, politicians and their enablers hardly hold a monopoly on shameless distortion.
During my years as a reporter, I’ve been lied to by police officers, arsonists, bankers, attorneys, convicted criminals, coworkers, bosses, priests, and, yes, nursing home operators. And many more. It’s also entirely possible I shared a fib or two along the way.
The reasons for the deceptions varied, but all were self-serving. And it does make one think: Why is it that so many adults are comfortable dispersing half-truths and full lies when it suits them? And why does it suit them so often?
Maybe what we all need is a reminder of those lessons that were taught and enforced during our formative years? Although for some in our midst, mouthwash of the soap variety might be more appropriate.
John O’Connor is the Editorial Director for McKnight’s.