My father was a minister back when I was growing up. And every week, our town’s ministers and pastors and bishops would get together for a coffee-drinking, round-table meeting at one of our local restaurants.
As a child, I had the pleasure of attending a time or two, having talked my father into letting me skip the rest of the school day after a doctor or dentist appointment. And as I would sit there drinking my hot cocoa and spooning the gooey marshmallows to eat, my little brain would soak up every word being shared.
I remember a story my father once told about having played golf a few days prior. The course had been busy and they were pairing up single players to tee off together. And it just so happened that my father ended up being paired with a particularly foul-mouthed golfer.
By hole three, the conversation had steered towards what the other did for a living. And when my father informed the stranger that he was a minister, the foul-mouthed golfer began to apologize profusely, promising to watch what he said and to clean up his act while golfing around my father.
My father’s reply: “If you can clean it up on the golf course, you can clean it up elsewhere too.”
At a time when our country is so incredibly divided, when name-calling and still unproven accusations have become the “norm,” when political parties express such distrust in one another, when the traditions of democracy teeter on the edge … maybe our government officials should go golfing with my retired-minister father instead.
He could probably teach them a thing or two. He could tell them to watch what they say … that words matter … that manners matter … that CHARACTER MATTERS.
Clean it up, America. A country divided against itself cannot stand.
One would think we would have learned that already by hole three.