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.

 

Censure

Censure: (n) the expression of formal disapproval.

Why is it not illegal to be an asshole?

I’m not speaking about capital punishment or even hard jail time. But certainly a stiff fine would be in order for being such a damn stiff.

We censure everything else. We raise our eyebrows in disapproval over a myriad of common human behaviors. Why is the asshole able to flee the jurisdiction of decency?

Wait. I see your problem. You would like me to define what an asshole is:

  1. An asshole is someone who tries to steal freedoms from other people simply because those folks don’t measure up to the favored code.
  2. An asshole is a person who hurts someone’s feelings and then pretends that it was nothing personal.
  3. An asshole is an individual who blows his or her horn in traffic instead of slowing up just a little bit, to let someone enter.
  4. An asshole is a Bible-thumper who quotes scriptures in a buffet line.
  5. An asshole is a jerk who posts articles on Facebook about other assholes

Honestly, I could go on and on, but then I would be in danger of becoming an asshole myself.

It is time to use the intimidation of censure to achieve some goodness in our society instead of thinking that goodness is achieved by censuring any fresh, new idea.

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Basket

Basket: (n) a container used to hold or carry thingsDictionary B

I have never been particularly fond of work.

I do prefer work that I make up instead of chores that are made up for me. But like every other God-fearing American, I enjoy money.

So when I was a kid–about twelve–my dad, for a very brief time, grew strawberries on our little farm, with the intent of picking them, selling them and procuring an extra income.

Nobody in our family knew how difficult it was to pick strawberries. The plants do not have the decency to grow tall enough to reach up to you. No, you have to go down to get them on the ground.

My dad wanted to sell a pint of strawberries for a quarter. He offered me a nickel for every pint of strawberries I picked.

So I picked and I picked and I picked–and every time I brought him a pint to examine, he said it was not quite full.

At the end of the first day, I had only picked two pints, earning a dime. So overnight, practically in my dreams, I came up with a plan.

Unknown to my father, I carried a roll of toilet paper with me into the strawberry patch, and filled the bottom of my basket halfway with toilet paper, making sure that when I picked the strawberries, they covered the toilet paper so that it would take half as much to achieve a pint.

That night I not only received great praise for picking more baskets–eight in all–but proudly walked away with 40 cents.

I pulled this off for two days until people who were purchasing the strawberries began to complain to my parent about being cheated out of product by being given bathroom issue.

My father was furious.

I don’t know whether he was more unhappy because of the complaints of the people or because I was such a cheat.

But I learned that day that a basket is a basket and never will cease to be a basket.

If you find the basket is too small, then you need to get a larger basket.

And, as in the case of my strawberry picking, if you find the basket is too big, rather than cheating, you must acquire a smaller basket.

 

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