Hey Timmy, would you like to be a Senator someday? Sally, how about being President of the United States when you grow up? Yeah? Well, watch yourself! Avoid parties, steer clear of skinny-dipping and kegs on the golf course. Don't hang out with the Breakfast Club, and never EVER say the WORD marijuana. As a matter of fact, if you'd like to hold public office someday, it's probably best you don't leave the house.
First we were judging our candidates based upon their voting record or the results of their public service. That evolved into finding out about their professional lives prior to civic office. Eventually the media started looking into the college years and all the social activities associated with them -- well, at least for Republican candidates.
Now, apparently, the absolute stupidity and adolescence of HIGH SCHOOL behavior is considered to be a measure of one's moral turpitude --even 47 years later.
When I think about all the things I MAY or MAY NOT have ALLEGEDLY done during my second infancy at an all male Catholic high school, I cringe.
Some of the behavior is regrettable due to the ignorance of words, and their effect at the time; while other behavior was just downright rude and inappropriate.
The vast majority of my sophomoric buffoonery was just that: silly jokes, name-calling and horseplay. I must say, however that some of my goofiness was pure genius such as the time when my buddy and I followed a lady around our neighborhood removing the tag sale signs she was posting on telephone poles. She made about two loops around frantically re-posting before she knew what was happening.
Why shouldn't we judge people on their behavior so early in their lives -- especially in the uniquely immature high school years? Isn't it a snapshot of the man or woman they will become?
Not only is it wrong to hold someone accountable for rabble rousing -- even of the offensive variety -- it is impossible.
How can we gauge the depth of their knowledge of the human condition at 13, 14 or 15 years old? Where have we been at that age? What have we done, who have we known? How much joy, happiness and success have we encountered? How much pain, suffering or sadness have we endured?
For example, how can we judge a 65-year-old man for regrettable behavior 47 years ago when that behavior wasn't known to him to be regrettable at the time?
I promise you, when I allegedly climbed into the Jello wrestling ring with three bruising ladies in 1988, I did NOT regret it, nor did I for years! It was an awesome story! I was KING amongst men!
When a buddy reminded me of it in 2011, I winced and wished I had never done it.
There is not one amongst us who has a clean high school record in terms of our behavior. At some point every reader of this piece played a mean joke, did something inappropriate or hurt an innocent with savage words.
All of us did stupid things, said mean words and in general broke myriad rules of civility when we were adolescents, but we went on to live a LIFE and have learned.
There is a REASON we don't toilet paper our co-workers' houses! We no longer have 14 pizzas delivered to the priests rectory (allegedly).
We now filter our words, mind our temper and conduct ourselves as best we can, because we know our actions and our words have consequences.
Need to be reminded why?
Because as we have aged we have been on the receiving end of uncouth and cruel behavior. We've been hurt, scared and embarrassed by others. Simply put, we know what it feels like. We know what the results are, so we don't do it any more. It's called a process.
We have grown up.
I'll tell you about the alleged Jello wrestling sometime. Oy vey.
Judge not, lest ye be judged.