By Lee Parker
When a question is asked - any question - the human brain MUST consider and seek to answer it. It does not matter if the question is nonsensical, irrelevant or immaterial. It is a reflex of the brain to answer all questions posed to it.
It was with this in mind that I engaged two sixteen-year-old young women at a recent social gathering.
I said, "I’m 57 and I have a question for you. Do the young women of today have big celebrations when they turn sixteen, like they did in the dark ages that constituted my youth?"
Upon receiving a rather bland, non-committal response, I inquired if I could ask them another question.
I asked, "What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the youth of today?"
The looks on their faces were enough to set Norman Rockwell to his drawing pad! I could tell by their vacant stares that this was a major request for information. They both said that they had never thought about it before.
"Oh, isn’t that interesting?" I said and returned to what I had previously been doing.
Within a few minutes, the more outgoing of the young women tapped me on the shoulder and asked, "Do you mind if I ask you a question?" I was genuinely delighted to answer any question she might ask, and told her so.
"What do you think is the biggest challenge facing adults today?" she asked.
"Oh, what a good question! Let me think about it a minute." A pregnant pause hung in the air like an empty thought balloon. Then I replied, "I think the biggest challenge for adults today has something to do with honesty. I’m not exactly sure how to put it into words, but it seems to me that adults don’t value the Truth; they don’t even consider it to be important.
"Everywhere we look, lies are accepted as a way of life. Parents lie to their children. Government officials lie to the people. Religious officials lie to the parishioners. We lie to each other and we lie to ourselves. It seems that whatever the circumstance, if the truth represents an obstacle then a lie will suffice.
"Beyond the fact that lying is just plain wrong, the problem with lying is that once a lie is told, another must be told to ensure the survival of the first. Then another and still another must be told until the truth is so deeply buried that it is difficult to even recall the original facts.
"We see this in politics all the time. Bill Clinton was a master at lying and it was only after a great deal of time and money was spent that the truth was finally revealed about his sexual relations in the White House. George W. Bush has been caught in a series of lies about Iraq and how he used false information to mislead the American people. Everyone seems to accept the fact that lies and politics are synonymous."
I continued, "There WAS a time when lying was considered a sin against our Creator. There was a time when your word was your bond, so that when you spoke you were believed.
"George Washington is reputed to have never told a lie. He was regarded as one of the most trustworthy men of his day. Men followed him into battle because of his moral values and honorable behavior.
"In those days, the social attitude toward liars was much different than it is today. Liars were branded as untrustworthy. They were spurned and rejected, like outcasts. People would not do business with them. Their reputations as liars preceded them in all social and business interactions. They could not escape being viewed as untrustworthy.
"Personally, I think we were better off back then. I think people were more secure in their relationships because they knew whom they could trust. Today, we can’t trust anyone or at best, very few people. Because of this general distrust, we are anxious, unhappy and afraid. We don’t trust ourselves and we don’t trust others.
"So to answer your question, I think Truth is the major challenge facing adults today."
I’m sure these two young women did not expect such a lengthy and honest reply. I suspect they thought I would talk about Iraq, or making money, or raising children. However, after I finished speaking they looked at each other, then at me, and in unison replied, "I think you are correct."
They then went about their business and I went about mine. I never even knew their names. I only know that these two young ladies will be thinking about the original question I asked, and eventually each will answer it in her own mind.
Now I ask you, "What do YOU think is the biggest challenge facing adults today?"
By Lee Parker