Have you got any matches?
Lord of the Flies - Chapter 2
I had some travel planned that would take me to St. Louis, but where I was going would have me drive right past where the city is erupting in violence. That's not a place I wanted to be as I looked at videos of thugs burning down local businesses and looting.
So I cancelled that little trip and went to work, getting some large legally things off my desk, then a sandwich and quick trip to the store on my lunch break. There, I picked up a few household essentials, one of them some soap for the bathrooms as I was totally out. I usually get Irish Spring for the guest bath, but that day, I saw a bulk pack of Ivory soap and picked it up as that's what I have in my bathroom. Simple soap, good for my delicate, sensitive skin. It's also what was always in our bathroom as a child. I remember bath time as a small child, a flotilla of plastic boats trying to avoid the floating iceberg of Ivory soap, little army men jumping into the water to avoid the collision. What's that noise? Oh No, a waterfall! Arghhhh!
I could stay in that tub until my little fingers had shriveled up into raisins, as long as I could warm the water up periodically. Mom usually had to come in and drain all the fun so I could go to bed.
It wasn't the first cuss word to pass my lips. That was from the arms of my Mom when I was not even school age and I eagerly tried out "my new word!" on the Lutheran Minister who stopped by the house to see my Mom. I likely learned it from my Dad, career military, he came into the marriage with a few words that weren't to be uttered around the little ones under strict rules from Mom. But rules don't always mean they will be followed. For Dad DID have a shop and sharp tools, so it was only a matter of time before a hammer stroke went awry and Barbie and Francie and friends heard the S-bomb.
My Mom, I'm sure, wanted to crawl under the porch after that passed my lips with a smile and a wave, but Pastor E. took it in stride. He had raised several children, the children of whom I would babysit as a teen. My parents tended to some leeway to the rules we had not learned yet, but there was no quarter to those we were aware of. Hence the Ivory Soap mouthwash a few short years later.
We were children, but we knew there was a moral code to this world and that the world as well, did not revolve around our every need and happiness. It was how our parents were raised, and how we were raised. Our parents clothed us, loved us, praised us and punished us, not without thought and not with unwarranted decree, but in a manner firm enough it definitely got our attention.
And we did test those boundaries for we were children, finding that with those boundaries came accountability. One soon learns that a tantrum in Safeway will not get you that toy by the check stand, it will get you a quick and silent removal to the car and home to think about it in your room, without any toys. One learns that if one lies to a parent, that certain things we enjoy are not a right, they're earned by responsibility. One learns that if one tries to jump off the garage roof with a makeshift airfoil, the ground will smite thee only a little less than Dad will. One often, much later, learns that if you carelessly play with what one holds dear, there are consequences for more than just yourself, lessons that stay long after the aftermath.
Now, many kids are given access to most anything good and bad that the TV and Internet has to offer, at the earliest of ages, not as a lesson in choice, but as way of entertainment for parents often absent. Through expectation or demand, children are given possessions so freely that neither the object or the givers have value to them, and if acting out, in their attempts to cajole or control, their actions are forgiven before forgiveness had been even ventured or earned.
As children, my siblings and I were not insulated from the world and its capabilities for harm. We understood the rudimentary principles of physics, ballistics and stupidity. Current events were discussed, war, poverty, and man's evil against other men, but only when we were old enough to grasp and apply those lessons. My siblings and I read books in school in the 60's and 70's that are probably banned today as not being politically correct. We had toys that could cause second degree burns. We had chemistry sets that could actually blow things up. We learned how to safely handle certain firearms and respect the trust of their use, their purpose, which was not to impose our will or to take something we had not earned, but to provide and protect.
From the beginning of time there have been laws, there have been tools that can be used as weapons, including firearms. There has been good and evil. There have been two distinct and competing impulses that exist among humans, one, the instinct to live by the law, to act peacefully except in matters of self defense, to follow moral commands for the good of the group and the other, the instinct to gratify one's immediate desires without adherence to any such law or moral code, using violence, not as a means of protection, but to simply to obtain supremacy over others or force one's will on someone without defense.
Even as children we were exposed to both types of behavior. How we reacted to it, how we CHOSE which behavior was acceptable, was due to the example set, not just by society, but by our parents.
If their Mom or Dad didn't get them in line through societal pressure, we weren't adverse to a well placed punch in the nose when they attacked again. We usually didn't have to, bullies were handled without patience and kids who were a danger to themselves or others weren't sent back out to the sandbox with the innocents with a "you're special" talk and some meds. They were put where they could do no harm.
The rest of us? Well, most of us worried more about what happened by Dad when we got home from school after misbehaving there, than any punishment another kid could give out. Our Dad's were, with few exceptions, veterans, they were present, society not yet promoting the belief that one doesn't need a Dad around to grow up well rounded, simply a check, which the government can provide, right? We had parents who were hands on parents, hands calloused with hard work and scarred from their own mistakes.
The abandon and innocent glee that was childhood, remains forever lodged in my mind, just as do those lessons, even the painful ones. I put my hands up to my nose and smell the faint, clean scent of soap, something so plain and simple, much like what once stood for truth. Today, I am trusted with the safety of others, with sharp implements, weapons, power tools and another's honorable heart. But what guides me to maintain that trust, is not a law, it is not the dictate of a ruling body, it is bound in me by the honor of the past and the examples of my upbringing.
There is much we can be cleansed of, by the Water and by His blood, but there some things formed in the soul, which can not be bound by man, or removed with reason, things for which we should always be ready. For there will always be those whose capabilities for harm we can not always fathom but we should always dread. For that I am armed with not just the Second Amendment, but the blued steel of eternal vigilance.