Anyone with children has undergone the rite of passage of a youngster who, with a roll of the eyes and a barely suppressed sigh, stalks away from the parent in utter embarrassment. Usually this teen-aged behavior is brought on by the parent having said or done something the child is certain will cause lasting shame for him or her (not to mention the family). And it doesn’t take much to bring about this sort of crisis … a mistaken observation about a current teen idol … wearing clothes deemed too old fashioned … or even emphasizing that: “be home by 10:00” means “be home by 10:00.”
Luckily, these sorts of teen-aged behaviors are transitory in nature. Most often, the youngster comes to understand that Dad and Mom are okay after all, and that they do not present as much of a threat to one’s dignity as originally thought.
This all changes, of course, when pictures of Dad appear in the national media showing him strutting through the United States Capitol carrying a lectern purloined from the office of the Speaker of the House. And, let’s face it, dinner table conversation can be difficult when Dad tries to explain why he lost his job as CEO of a digital marketing firm after being charged with a Federal crime.
Following the outrage in Washington on January 6, a number of individuals have been arrested, while many others, no doubt, wonder if they will be the next taken into custody. As things continue to unfold, though,there has been a shift in tone of social media posts by some who took part. One real estate agent, who initially described the rally as a “prelude to war” while vowing to “break windows,” has more recently said she thought she was going to be taking part in a peaceful political march, while condemning the violence that occurred.
To paraphrase Samuel Johnson, the prospect of federal agents knocking on the door can focus the mind wonderfully.
When facing difficult choices, it is always useful to ask oneself a simple question: “How will I feel if my actions are exposed to the light of day?” In other words, will I be able to defend my actions if others learn what I have done? Can I explain my decision to my family?
For those already arrested, the process of having to explain one’s choices before a judge has begun. There are many others, though, whose actions were recorded on January 6, but who have not yet been identified or taken into custody. For them, one can only imagine the difficulty of explaining to a child why he just saw his parent’s face among a crowd of individuals committing criminal acts at the United States Capitol.
As one business executive said following his dismissal for taking part in the outrage in Washington: “This was the single worst decision of my life.”