Wall Street Journal editorial writer, Andy Kessler, wrote a column that appeared on August 9, 2021 entitled, “To Lie Is Human.” He began the column by confessing that as he and his family visited Lake Louis, Alberta he did the following:
1. He told his son to lie about his age when they were going to go horseback riding. His son was 6 and turning 7 that day (his birthday). The minimum age was 9. His son lied about his age, saying he was 8 and turning 9 that day, and got his horseback ride for his birthday.
2. Later that day they went to ride the ski lift. The fare is $35 unless you are five or under. Then the ride is free. He told his son to tell the lift operator that he was 5 — the son complied.
Mr. Kessler seemed entertained by the thought that his son was ages 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 all in one day. Mr. Kessler used it as an example of how children are not always refreshingly honest. He took pride in believing he was training his son for a career in politics.
What Mr. Kessler may not know is that children’s attitudes about ethics and honesty are formulated at a very early age by, you guessed it, the example of their parents. What Mr. Kessler’s son saw was that it’s okay to lie when you really want to do something or when you want to save $35. Children do not forget these incidents, precisely because they were placed in an ethical dilemma: Do I do what dad says or do I do what I have learned is the right thing to do?
Complicity of adults in the bad behaviors of others has resulted in everything from ongoing sexual harassment to the slaughter of innocents. What Mr. Kessler confessed to was training his son to be complicit under a standard of moral relativism. He should not be surprised if his son’s actions as a teen and adult mirror his lessons taught alongside the glistening and reflective water of Lake Louise.