all of the selves we Have ever been
They were people of few words.
That was typical of their generation.
It was a “do as I say” era. Parents were not inclined
to debate matters with their children.
Parents provided general instructions. The specifics were implied.
“Have a nice day,” had not yet entered the vernacular. Instead, “Be good” was what our parents had to say whenever we ventured from our front door into the larger world outside. Those simple words were both a farewell and marching orders. As we set off into riskier situations, “Be good!” might be offered in a tone of warning, a reminder that our parents were not fools and knew that we were headed to places where trouble might be found. Most of the time, however, “Be good,” was a gentle reminder of their expectations. Unbeknownst to us, those two small words awakened the little voice within--the nagging Jiminy Cricket voice of conscience. Parents sure knew how to ruin a good time.
We did not have to open that small word package to understand what was inside. We knew, and we did not want to disappoint. The parcel contained all of the moral lessons important to the development of conscience and character: Tell the truth. Follow the rules. Be on time. Watch out for your siblings. Mind your manners. Be respectful of adults and people in authority. Get along with others. Take care of your things. Respect the property of others. Be cautious. Don’t bend to peer-pressure and go off the bridge with wayward friends. Don’t take anything that does not belong to you. Think of your neighbors. Share. Consider your reputation—your future.
Our parents did not study child development or psychological theories, and yet they knew instinctively that it was their job to create within each of us the desire to be good.
In our current world climate, I often feel discouraged. It seems like the bad guys are winning. And that winning is everything. I wonder if the desire to be good is melting along with the polar ice caps. A dose of the daily news, and I want to shout at my television, “Be good!”
And then I go about my day, and I engage with the real people I know. Good people. Kind people. Generous people. People who desire to be good. I am relieved.
In Lived Loved, a devotional by Max Lucado, he shares the story of the famous scholar, Matthew Henry. When Henry was “accosted by thieves and robbed of his purse, he wrote this in his diary: ‘Let me be thankful first, because I was never robbed before; second, because , although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, although they took my all, it was not much; and, fourthly, because it was I who was robbed, and not I who robbed.’” Matthew Henry was grateful to be one of the good guys. And so am I.
Thank you, dear readers and friends. I count you among the good guys.
We each need a t-shirt that says, “Be Good.”