Ohio State, Honesty, and, of course, a Parenting Tie-in

May 31, 2011 by cloften  
Filed under Family and Parenting

If you are looking for a rant about how evil Ohio St. is and how the Razorbacks got hosed by having to play this group of cheaters in the Sugar Bowl, you will have to look elsewhere.  Perhaps you should try fakecloften.com or evilcloften.info or whatcloftenreallythings.biz (Seriously, isn’t .biz uber-classy?)  This will be an attempt at something a little more thoughtful than that.  However, I’m sure you can google Razorback message boards or Michigan Wolverine message boards and get plenty of that.

I would think that most of us can agree that in the big picture of things, selling memorabilia in exchange for tattoos is not a big deal.  I would go so far as to say that a car dealership giving discounts to Ohio St. football players isn’t a huge deal.  “But Cloften, it’s against the rule.  The rules! The rules!!!!!!”  Agreed, those are violations of the NCAA rules for athletes and every school knows this and every player knows it as well.  Those are violations that call for punishments of some kind.

However, these are not the violations that finished off Ohio St. and brought hope to Michigan fans everywhere and a twisted sense of vindication for Razorback fans.  (”Yeah, see. They were cheaters.  We should have won that game.  We would have if those cheaters hadn’t been out there.”  Let’s agree on this: we should have won the game, by playing better.)  What ultimately brought down Jim Tressel was lying about it.  The coverup, the lying about the coverup, and the coverup of the lying about the coverup are what were considered unacceptable by the University, the NCAA and every sports fan.  What I mean by “every sports fan” is all sports fans except for those who would consider the beating of Michigan literally the most important thing that can happen in a year.

Had he simply told his compliance director and athletic director, this would have played out differently.  Maybe he knew the problem was so deep, that it was “better” to keep lying, because if everything was exposed, he would be in even more trouble.  He felt that his only hope was to try and convince the world of a lie that ultimately he knew wouldn’t last.

Do you know what this reminds me of?  “Yes, we do.  It’s what everything reminds you of–your kids.”  Hmm, I suppose I am predictable.  This is what my kids do.  They are caught doing something, but with minimal evidence.  Then they tell a preposterous story, and they will defend that story until it completely falls apart.  This makes Dad quite angry.  There are times when the offense is so small that had they said, “Sorry, Dad,” that would have been it.  “Thank you. Please don’t do it again.”  However, when you add lying to the list of offenses, now there has to be some punishment.  Lying always makes it worse.  Always.  Covering it up always makes it worse.  Always.  Maybe not immediately, but it catches up with you.

Do you know what this reminds me of? “Yes, we do. You are very predictable.  It reminds you of all of us.”  No need to be harsh; maybe you should just start writing these yourself.  I know that none of us like to admit to being wrong.  Well if that’s true, then just admit it quickly.  Wait, what?  Think about it.  You are only having to admit being wrong once.  If you lie, then you will ultimately have more things to confess.

Dishonesty really does rot us from the inside  It begins to eat away at us slowly.  We are never better off after the lie, even if we’ve “gotten away with it.”  You never get away with it.  (Christian cliche alert) God knows, His Spirit inside you knows, you know.  We only make it worse when we add deception.

So whether you are trying to get away with yelling at your sister, a bad habit you want to hide from your wife, or maintain the integrity of THE Ohio State University, don’t do it.  Don’t lie.  Confess, take your lumps and move on. There is freedom there.

Just Admit It Already. You Lied. On Purpose.

May 19, 2010 by cloften  
Filed under Family and Parenting

Quick show of hands.  Who here has ever said something that wasn’t true?  Good.  How many people here have ever told a lie?  Hopefully, we still have everyone.  Who has ever told a lie on purpose?  Ok.  Here is the big one.  Who has ever told a lie on purpose because we wanted the person/people hearing to believe something that wasn’t true, we wanted to deceive them and make ourselves look better in some way?  Reread that if you said no and try again.  Here is one more.  How many would do it again in a heartbeat if you thought you would get away with it?

I don’t care what you are telling yourself.  All of us on occasion, and on more occasions than we care to admit, say something deceptive on purpose to get away with something, inflate ourselves, hide, etc.  It shouldn’t be that way but it is.  The question for this post is “What do we do when we are caught?”  The way I see it we have two basic approaches that we can take.

1) The “safe” “smart” poltical approach.  You will excuse me if your party affiliation lines up with the most recent example of (nerd alert) political obfuscation.  This is meant by no means to characterize one party as the obfuscating (I will say that word as many times now as I can) and the other party as the party of virtue.  I won’t take the position that “they all do it.”  They don’t all do it, but plenty from every party do.  Disclaimer over.  A politician who served in the guard and was stationed stateside during Vietnam time period has been caught saying he served in Vietnam.  Let’s assume for a second that it was a complete accident.  If that had happened to me I would have said, “Dude, (I always say dude) I meant to say during.  I said in.  My bad.  I’m sorry.”  Here is what we got

“On a few occasions, I have misspoken about my service and I regret that. I take full responsibility,”

“But I will not allow anyone to take a few misplaced words and impugn my record of service to our country,”

Did he say it on purpose?  Did he intentionally blur the truth in the moment?  What is the full responsibility you are taking if no one can hold you accountable for those words?  If it was an accident, say it was.  (Sidebar.  Isn’t it interesting that we only accidentally say hurtful things about other people and helpful things about us.  I have never accidentally told someone to punch me in the face.  Although there are many times, I have tried to convince my wife that some hurtful things I said to her were accidental.)  If it wasn’t, please just say it that it wasn’t.  He won’t.  No politician ever will.  We have created a culture where vulnerability, transparency and humility are vices not virtues.  Which leads to the 2nd approach.

2) The humble, Biblical way.  What if we all decided that we would just be honest when caught in a lie.  What if we decided that we would be humble, admit our weaknesses and confess to each other?  What would happen if we lost this pressure to be perfect and stopped pretending to be perfect to each other?  We could then pray for each other, encourage other, be honest and build real trust with each other.

What if a politician said this?  “I’m sorry.  I exaggerated.  I shouldn’t have.  I served during Vietnam and I thought that was close enough to being true.  Really, though, I was exaggerating for effect to make my point sound better and make me look better.  I shouldn’t have done that.  Forgive me.”

Well, Cloften, that is the stupidest thing that I have ever heard.  Who in their right mind would say that?  His opponents would jump on him and say that he is not trustworthy.  Can you imagine the political ads they would run?  He would lose everything and be done in poltics.  He would lose it all, and what would he gain?