What happened to honesty?

A woman who is dishonest with who she really is.

A certain firm went out of business.

For more than 60 years it had sold garden seeds.

Its agents were young boys and girls who wrote in for seeds, sold them to their neighbors and sent a portion of the money back to the firm.

Why did the firm go out of business?

Because the child-agents were dishonest.

Too many of them failed to return the seeds or kept the money they got from selling them.

What would you conclude from the fact that a firm relying on the honesty of children could operate for 60 years but now was forced out of business?

It seems as though children are not as honest as they used to be, does it not?

However, children are not the only ones who are more dishonest.

The old folks still remember the time when they could confidently leave their house with the front door unlocked, or leave a bicycle on the sidewalk and not have it stolen.

It is not that way anymore in most places.

In a survey sent out by the magazine Psychology Today, most of the thousands who answered admitted to either minor or major dishonesty.

93%  admitted that they occasionally drove faster than the speed limit.

68%  percent had taken office supplies or other materials.

67%  percent had cheated when possible on examinations or school assignments.

45%  percent had cheated on their marriage mates.

And many had sent in false tax returns, had failed to declare a dutiable item at customs.

Others had improperly used the company phone to make long-distance calls or had cheated on an expense account.

An old English proverb claims that “opportunity makes the thief.”

Contrarily, there are some who insist that “the thief makes the opportunity.”

Many reasons for dishonesty have been suggested.

Here are some of them.

Why people have become more dishonesty?

Adults bad example: 

A child looking at his completely drunk father.

When the seed firm mentioned above wrote to the parents of the children that owed it money, it often received a letter to this effect:

You’re a big company; you don’t need the money and you’re only trying to cheat my child.’ 

It is not difficult to see why those children learned to be dishonest.

Because it is easy to get away with it.

In replying to the above-mentioned survey a young student wrote:

There is always the pressure to excel to make high grades, and even if I’m prepared for an exam, I may cheat anyway. . . . Students cheat openly and obviously and many teachers do little or nothing about it. In short: I do it because I can get away with it.” 

From infancy most children are subjected to its insidious influence.

Folklore, classical stories such as “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,” films, TV programs and many books glorify dishonesty in one way or another.

In an interview a man in São Paulo, Brazil, blamed the influence of such religious practices as easy forgiveness, through confession, for many wrongs done.

One woman admitted that her world of honesty collapsed when “Father Christmas” turned out to be a relative.

From the stork that is said to bring babies, to politicians with empty promises—in all areas of life we are surrounded by powerful influences that tend to condition the mind to dishonesty.


A youth who uses a gun to steal to escape poverty.

Doubtless, poverty—or fear of poverty—leads to a lot of stealing and cheating.

However, people generally seem to have been more honest during the pre-war depression years despite widespread poverty.

And many dishonest people are far from poor.

Consider a case reported from Japan.

A group of men were found to be cheating a railroad company.

They had found a way to pay a little less than they should for the trip home after a day’s golfing.

Did they cheat because of poverty? Hardly.

One of the cheaters was a company president!


A cartoon picture of a greedy man.

 A newspaper columnist wrote:

“This naked lust for money underlies most of the nation’s moral problems.” 

This same columnist added:

“Look, if you will, at our leaders. Our Congressmen, through slush funds and assorted ‘perks,’ leave what they are pleased to call ‘public service’ indecently rich, with fat pensions." 

And what about our captains of industry?

The robber baron is not extinct.

There are many corporate CEO's who have made their indecent wealth by dishonesty

One shopkeeper recently stated that youngsters come into his shop in groups.

While one buys, the rest raid the counter. “When I was a lad,” he says, “boys were scared when caught.

The sad thing is that now, they couldn’t care less.

In some areas, if you tell them off, they come back and smash your windows.”

And it is not the underprivileged classes that do it all.

Not long ago, an elderly titled woman in England was convicted of shoplifting.

And who has not read of embezzlement's, some small but others that run into the millions?

A climate of dishonesty:

A vector photo showing two men happy with not paying their taxes.

 A report in Newsweek magazine said:

Many of the same Americans who complain loudly about white-collar criminals are really small-time crooks themselves."

Poor Americans cheat the welfare system and middle-class and upper-income citizens alike treat expense accounts as ‘swindle sheets’ and under-report their taxable earnings to the Internal Revenue Service.

‘In this society, everyone partakes.’”

Much of it has become so commonplace, however, that many persons no longer view it as dishonest.

Take some other typical situations.

An employer tells a clerk to reduce the amount shown in the accounts as received for certain sales.

The clerk takes the view that it is not objectionable because he is simply doing what the boss directs.

A wife cheats on the family budget, assuring herself that she is entitled to a little something of a personal nature.

A husband tells his wife that he has to work overtime, but he goes out with his pals or, perhaps, with another woman.

How do you feel about dishonesty?

Whatever the causes, though, how do you feel about dishonesty?

Do you enjoy being lied to or cheated?

Are you happy to pay higher insurance premiums because of widespread insurance fraud, or higher prices to cover shoplifting and employee theft?

Would you consent to having your wife or husband cheat on you? Probably not.

But this is what is happening today, and we are all affected in one way or another.

In such a world, whom can you trust?

Do things have to be this way?

Please feel free to share your views.

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Do we really need a government?

Picture of statue of liberty.

ANARCHY: the absence of any form of political authority, resulting in a society of individuals without government, who claim total freedom for themselves.

GREEK philosopher Aristotle called all forms of human government inherently unstable and transitional.

He claimed, according to one writer, that “the stability of all regimes is corrupted by the corrosive power of time.”

In view of such conditions, it is not surprising that some people have advocated having no government at all, or at least as little government as possible.

But advocating ‘no government’ is in reality calling for anarchy, a term taken from a Greek word meaning “having no ruler.”

The word “anarchy” was used in 1840, exactly 150 years ago, by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, a French political writer.

But the philosophy of anarchism was clearly outlined 200 years earlier by Englishman Gerrard Winstanley.

But does not experience teach us that every group needs a framework within which to operate?

“From earliest times,” notes The World Book Encyclopedia, “some kind of government has been a vital part of every society.”

It explains:

every group of people—from a family to a nation—has rules of conduct to govern the lives of its members.”

How else could it accomplish its purposes for the benefit of all its members?

Most people will therefore readily accept the notion that certain institutions have a legitimate right to exercise authority and to make decisions for the common good.

With no government to make decisions for the community, every individual would be left to follow the dictates of his own conscience, as Winstanley suggested.

Would this promote unity?

Or is it not more likely that each individual would tend to pursue his own interests, often to the detriment of the equally legitimate rights of others?

Experiments in anarchy have failed to improve the lot of mankind.

Efforts of 20th-century terrorists to destabilize society, to destroy what they perceive to be destroying them, have fared no better.

Simply stated, having ‘no government’ invites chaos.

The question is therefore not ‘government or no government?’ but, rather, ‘what kind of government for the best results?

The purpose of government

Lincoln memorial Washington DC.

From this inauspicious beginning, governments have taken many forms.

Whether they are very simple or extremely complex, all of them have certain similarities.

Here are a few:

Governments care for the needs of their subjects.

A government that fails to do this loses its legitimacy.

Governments set out a code of conduct,

which if not adhered to by their subjects, results in punishment.

This code is composed of rules and laws, as well as of traditions developed over the centuries.

Citizens for the most part obey the code of conduct either because they discern the benefits derived from doing so, because they feel ‘it is the thing to do,’ because they are subjected to peer pressure, or simply because they will be punished if they do not.

Governments perform legislative, executive, and judicial services by means of some type of organizational setup.

Laws are made, justice is administered, and policies are implemented.

Governments maintain strong economic ties to the world of commerce.

Governments also often ally themselves with some form of religion, some more closely than others.

They do this to grant their rule a certain legitimacy—‘the blessing of heaven’—that it otherwise would not have.

Sometimes governments are classified in terms of their key institutions (parliamentarism, cabinet government), according to their basic principles of political authority (traditional, charismatic), according to their economic structure, or in terms of their use or abuse of power.

“Although none is comprehensive,” notes this reference work, “each of these principles of analysis has some validity.”

But regardless of how we classify them, the vital thing to remember is that the various forms of human rule have their merits and demerits.

Read more…

Understanding the root causes and effects of childhood depression

A picture of a depressed child in the wilderness.

Depression in kids

According to the book Growing Up Sad, some time ago doctors thought there was no such thing as childhood depression.

But time and experience have proved otherwise.

Today, the authors assert, childhood depression is recognized and not at all uncommon.

Among its main causes are rejection and mistreatment by parents.

The authors explain:

In some cases the parent has subjected the child to a constant barrage of criticism and humiliation. In other cases there is simply a void in the parent-child relationship: the parent’s love for the child is never expressed. . . . The result is particularly tragic for the children of such parents because to a child—or to a grown-up, for that matter—love is like sunshine and water to a plant.”

Childhood anxiety

A girl who is afraid of the her mother.

“You stupid slowpoke!”

A woman in Japan remembers those words all too well—they were flung at her frequently when she was a small child.

By whom? Schoolchildren? Siblings? No. By her parents.

She recalls: “I used to get depressed because the name-calling cut me deeply.”

A man in the United States remembers that as a child, he felt fearful and anxious whenever his father came home.

He recalls

To this day I can still hear the sound of the tires on the driveway and it goes through me like a chill. My little sister would hide. My father was a perfectionist and constantly browbeat us for not doing a good enough job on all the chores we had to do.”

This man’s sister adds:

I don’t remember either of my parents ever hugging us, kissing us, or saying anything like ‘I love you’ or ‘I’m proud of you.’ And to a child, never hearing ‘I love you’ feels the same as hearing ‘I hate you’—every day of his life.”

Effects of child depression

A child affected by childhood depression.

Some might say that the distress these people suffered as children was minor.

Certainly it is not unusual for children to be on the receiving end of harsh, unkind words and mean treatment.

This is not the stuff of lurid newspaper headlines and sensational tabloid TV shows.

The damage is not visible.

But if parents mistreat their children in such ways day after day, the effects may be devastating nonetheless—and last for a lifetime.

One study examined the parenting practices used on a group of five-year-old children.

Researchers managed to track down many of these children, now in mid-life, to gain insight into the long-term effects of their upbringing.

The study concluded that the children who ended up having the hardest time in life, who lacked emotional well-being, and who had a hard time in marriage, friendships, and even at work, were not necessarily the children of poor parents nor of rich parents nor even of obviously troubled parents.

They were children whose parents were distant and cold and showed little or no affection.

Question and answers about child depression

How prevalent is this problem?

A picture of a young child who is depressed.

A recent study of a thousand children found that by the age of nine, some 10 percent of the children had already experienced a depressive episode.

The impression is that 10 to 15 percent of schoolchildren have mood disorders.

A smaller number suffer from severe depression.

How can you tell if children are severely depressed?

A depressed child who does not want to play with a toy.

One of the key symptoms is that they find no pleasure in anything.

They don’t want to go out and play or be with their friends.

They’re not interested in the family.

You see loss of concentration; they can’t keep their mind even on television programs, much less their homework.

You see a feeling of worthlessness, a personal sense of guilt.

They’ll go around saying they think they’re no good or nobody likes them.

Either they can’t sleep or they oversleep; they lose their appetite or they overeat.

Plus you hear suicidal ideas such as, “I wish I weren’t alive.”

If you see a conglomeration of these symptoms, and it’s lasted for a week or two, then you’re talking about a seriously depressed child.

What are the key triggers of childhood depression?

A child sad about the death of a parent.

When you get down to the specific factors in any given child’s life, the major thing is probably a loss.

While this usually means a parental loss, it could include friends, close relatives, or even a pet.

Second to losses I would put depreciation and rejection.

There are children who are maligned and made to feel they’re small or insignificant by their parents.

At times a child is made a scapegoat.

He is blamed for anything that goes wrong in the family whether he is at fault or not.

Hence, he feels unworthy.

Another factor is a mood disorder in a parent.

Some children who are depressed engage in drug and alcohol abuse or even delinquent behavior.

Why is this?

They’re trying to hide the depression, even from themselves.

Their way of dealing with it often is to stay busy with other things, like stealing cars, taking dope, or drinking.

These are ways of disguising how badly they feel.

In fact, trying to hide their depression is one of the clearest ways that children differ from adults.

How can you tell when it is depression and not a child just misbehaving?

Picture of a misbehaving child.

By talking with these children, getting them to open up, you will often find the depression.

And if the depression is properly treated, their behavior improves.

Though something else was showing up on the surface, the depression was still there underneath all the time.

How can you get a depressed child to open up?

A father talking to his child.

First of all, choose a quiet time and place.

Then ask specific questions like, ‘Is something bothering you?’ ‘Have you been feeling sad or blue?’ ‘Are you upset?’ If there has been a loss, you could ask, depending on the circumstances, ‘Do you miss Grandma as much as I do?’

Give the child a chance to ventilate his feelings.

What can severely depressed children to do?

A father comforting his child.

Tell their parents about it.

This business of detection is a serious one because generally only the children know they’re depressed.

Parents and teachers usually don’t see it.

Adolescents who have gone to their parents and said, “I am depressed, I need help,”  have usually gotten it.

What if severely depression persists in a child?

A depressed child walking on railway tracks as parents look on.

If the depression seems to be debilitating, then it’s not something to be handled at home, any more than is pneumonia.

A debilitating depression must be taken to a professional because there may be a need for medication.

If it’s not a debilitating illness, what can a parent do?

Take an honest look at yourself and your family.

Has there been some serious loss that needs to be talked about and dealt with?

When losses occur, don’t belittle a child’s sadness.

Allow him the freedom to work through his grief.

Give a depressed child special amounts of attention, praise, and emotional support.

Spend extra time with him alone.

Your warm involvement is the best form of treatment.

Read more…

Answers to step family problems

A picture of a step family.

Why is it so tough being a stepparent?

Often a stepparent starts with a mythical black eye and goes on to earn the real one.

Most stepparents hope to get the recognition a biological parent gets.

Generally, they will not.

Consciously or unconsciously, they nearly always try to prove themselves.

Often the stepchildren reject all this parenting because of feeling disloyal to their departed parent.

The biological parent has a hallowed place.

In the beginning the stepparent will take a battering.

It doesn’t always follow, ‘If you love me, you’ll love my children.’

Why are stepchildren often hostile?

It is real tough on a child to go through a divorce.

The child feels bad that Mommy has left or Daddy is not around paying enough attention.

Often the children will transfer these bad feelings onto the stepparent.

This is called displacement.

So stepparents are easily made scapegoats for all these bad feelings.

All of a sudden, the child is just being awful to you.

How can you help a child cope with these “bad” feelings?

First, both the parent and the children need to recognize that such feelings are a normal part of the dynamics, or pattern of behavior, of a stepfamily.

If you blame the child or blame the stepparent instead of the dynamics, you could be in deep trouble.

The children need to understand that at the beginning it is normal to be upset and to feel anger and frustration.

Often, just helping the child to recognize why he feels that way and empathizing with him is a big help.

The biological parent should reassure the child that he will always have a special position and therefore has no reason to fear the stepparent as a usurper of ‘position and turf.’

Can a stepparent really discipline a stepchild?

Yes, by setting down ‘house rules’ from the start.

Love means you will give the children boundaries and not let them run wild.

Discipline and love need to be balanced, in or out of step.

But living in step, the love is often hard to feel.

The blood and the history are missing, so a stepparent may overreact, or a stepchild may resent discipline from a “stranger.” 

A stepfather should establish his authority by leading rather than by commanding.

What causes serious problems with punishment?

When the father and the mother disagree in front of the children.

For a child to have the two adult figures in his life disagreeing is the worst thing.

A child then has nowhere to turn.

If the step-family has no ‘company policy,’ it is devastating.

It is very important that the parents discuss privately, and agree on, what the standards of the home are and the consequences if these are violated.

They must then make this clear to the child.

One stepfather put it this way:

It’s a beautiful thing when the mother says, ‘This is my husband, your stepfather. Together we are bringing you up.’”

How important is the relationship of the couple?

This is the primary relationship, and it has to be strong; otherwise the rest won’t work.

You need to build what we call the couple strength.

This creates a cohesive family.

Without it, not only will you give the children mixed messages but they will drive a wedge between the two of you.

Go out as a couple.

Enjoy the children as a couple, not burdening just one parent.

Read more…