Decency

Decency: (adj) conformity to the recognized standard of propriety, good taste, modesty, etc.

A young man who I sheltered and loved in my household when he was abandoned by his father asked me a question.

“What was your upbringing like?”

Well, candidly, I have written so much on that issue over the years—and you dear souls who have read me could probably write my biography without too much difficulty—that I wouldn’t know exactly how to direct a simple answer toward this beloved human of my acquaintance.

But I do think it revolves around the word “decency.”

I think my parents, for the era in which they operated, were average, except they had too many kids. If they had stayed with two or maybe three, they might have had the stamina to remain involved and finish the race with a bit of flair.

But my parents had five sons.

My dad was fifty-eight years old when I turned ten.

And I’m not talking about a young, vibrant, television-star fifty-eight. I’m speaking of a cigarette-smoking-never-getting-enough-exercise, wouldn’t-eat-a-vegetable-if-you-shoved-it-down-his-throat and somewhat cranky fifty-eight-year-old.

I was son number four, and by the time I arrived my parents were just exhausted with the fruit coming out of their relationship, which they were finding difficult to bear.

So not knowing what to do, they did exactly what human beings pursue: the wrong thing.

Sometimes it was just too much.

Most times it was absent.

And then suddenly it would appear out of nowhere and seem phony.

Decency is difficult because it requires our full attention. The first time we do something indecent, we need to quickly confess and repent—or our hypocrisy will sully all future events.

So here’s what I would tell the dear fellow who asked me about my upbringing:

It was decent, considering the fact that it possessed neither passion nor decency.

 

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