Category Archives: Honesty

The Family Storyteller

  The Moriartys are celebrating the arrival of our newest member, Patrick James Moriarty, born to my nephew Casey and his wife Susan.  It has been 50 years since I’ve shared the name Patrick with another family member and it pleases me greatly. Patrick is number 19 of his generation and I’m reminded, once again, of the importance of family.  Knowing something of the road our kin … Continue reading The Family Storyteller »

Feeding the Good Dog

“A Native American elder once described his own inner struggles in this manner: ‘Inside of me there are two dogs. One of the dogs is mean and evil. The other dog is good. The mean dog fights the good dog all the time.’ When asked which dog wins, he reflected for a moment and replied, ‘The one I feed the most.’” ― George Bernard Shaw

So how does one go about feeding the good dog?  When did you discover you even had a good dog?  Maybe it was the day you found your conscience.

I remember when I found mine.  I was six and my friend Steve Albright and I played a game where we hid in the bushes next to the gully bridge, and as cars passed, threw rocks at them hoping to get a reaction.  Some cars swerved, some stopped.  A time or two a driver came after us but we ran into the gully, never to be found.

Until one day we got caught.

I had thrown a rock and it passed through an open window and hit the driver.  He brought his car to a screeching halt, jumped out and gave chase.  We ducked into the gully, tore down the embankment and headed for home.  The driver fixed his sights on me and followed.  He caught me just as I entered my backyard where my mom was hanging out clothes to dry.

The man gave Mom an earful, telling her how I nearly caused him to lose control of his car.  He was positively livid and threatened to call the police.  Through it all Mom kept her composure.  She showed genuine empathy for the driver and repeatedly apologized, letting him know she understood his anger and would make sure the matter was taken care of.  He agreed to let her handle things and left feeling he’d made his point.  Now it was Mother’s turn to weigh in.

She delivered a lesson for the ages.  Mom had me sit down by the clothesline.  She knelt down, took me by the shoulders, looked directly at me, and in a quiet, calm voice said, “You are going to sit right here for a while.  I want you to think about the driver, and think what it was like to have been like to have been hit by the stone you threw.”

Mother left me for maybe twenty minutes but during that time I experienced a number of firsts:

  • First time I experienced empathy
  • First time I saw myself as selfish 
  • First time I experienced shame 

First time I experienced my conscience talking back to me.

There I was, sitting by the clothesline with Dad’s wet shirt flapping in my face, experiencing a world that wasn’t revolving around me, but instead a world shared with others.  I remember at some point I began to cry, but my tears were not for myself but for the driver of the car whose life I had violated.

For the first time I was conscious that someone else’s feelings mattered just as much as mine and Mother, by resisting the temptation to act on her anger, enabled me to find my own conscience.  I never again threw rocks at cars.

There would come to pass many times

  • when I couldn’t locate my good dog,
  • when I misplaced my conscience,
  • when I needed to find my way to Mom’s clothesline.

Fortunately, when I needed a clothesline, one would often appear and I’d find my conscience, and with it my good dog who I remembered to feed.

Just a thought…

Pat

Copyright © 2018 Patrick J. Moriarty. All Rights Reserved.

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A Revolution in Little Steps

I recently drove by the campus of the University of Washington and was flooded with memories.  My time as a student there had been transformative for me.  I entered in one generational universe and exited in another. Fifty years ago it was 1968 and I was getting ready to start my sophomore year.  Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King had been assassinated.  Riots had torn through … Continue reading A Revolution in Little Steps »

A Successful Failure

Who do you look to for leadership?  It’s hard to get from here to there if you don’t know the way.  Some paths are marked with booby traps and dead ends, and we need men and women who have been there to share their experience.  When I’ve selected my leaders unwisely I’ve gotten into loads of trouble.  At 13 I chose my thrill-seeking next door … Continue reading A Successful Failure »

The Crucible of Character

  “Character is like a tree and reputation is like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” — Abraham Lincoln I’ve often found myself asking, “Am I the real thing?”  I’ve wrestled with my shadow self through much of my life, maybe because it’s been easier hyping the image of me than experiencing the trial and suffering … Continue reading The Crucible of Character »