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Fri, July 19

Williams: I could say what they said

Neighbor Phil drew my attention to a quote recently that read, “Strange times are these in which we live when old and young are taught falsehoods in school. And the person that dares to tell the truth, is called at once a lunatic and fool.”

This quote reminded me of another sentiment about the young folk that I heard not long ago, “The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.”

Taken together, these two snippets depress me. Where did we go wrong in today’s world that children are taking over? Why are almost all the trends we hear about headed into the crapper?

Maybe I shouldn’t be too hard on the times “in which we live.” The first citation above is attributed to the ancient philosopher Plato, who lived from 427 to 347 BC. Rumor has it that Plato never married so he probably didn’t confront the local PTA with his allegations of falsehoods being taught in school. At least teachers in Plato’s time weren’t tortured by the prevalence of student cell phones in class.

The second quote is from Greek Philosopher Socrates, who lived from 469 to 399 BC. He had three sons from his marriage with Xanthippe, so I guess he had enough data regarding children to be quoted almost 2,500 years after his death.

Reading these two quotes encourages me to construct a meaty maxim for which I’ll be known 2,500 years from now. After all, these two guys sealed their legacy wearing a bed sheet and sandals with minimal head hair and fulsome beards. Well, I have the beard. And the hair deficit. And sandals. I’ll go them one better; I can wear a 1,200-thread count fitted bed sheet that’s soft and breathable. With this ensemble, I would have made quite the fashion statement in 400 BC.

Let me set the scene. I’m sitting comfortably in my Boss Leather Executive chair with its patented three-direction tilt system. I’m comfortably attired in my best fitted bed sheet, sandals, etc., etc. I’m stroking my beard whilst deep in a contemplative mood. To provide the perfect lighting, I’ve lit a dripless, unscented taper candle in the corner that casts dramatic shadows across my furrowed brow. Now all I have to do is come up with a boffo statement that will survive the ages.

I even looked up the exact definition of a maxim to enhance my chances of success. A maxim is a short, pithy statement expressing a general truth or rule of conduct. Hey, I can do pithy without raising a sweat. And I can dance around the truth, generally. With regard to rules of conduct, I was a Boy Scout several decades ago. I think I can even remember the Boy Scout Oath, at least parts of it.

OK, the taper has burned down to the bottom and I’ve spilled hot chocolate on my toga sheet. And I have a headache, but I think I’ve come up with a maxim about children that will etch my name into posterity. Here it is: “Children can be a pain in the butt.” It’s short, true and a statement that everyone will agree with. Most importantly, it’s memorable because it’s bumper-stickerish.

To comment on this column, email wilaugust46@gmail.com.

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