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From Yesterday to Today: In Search of a Moral Compass

Welcome Back

It’s always nice to have company as I prepare to step inside my own personal time machine. If you are here, and packed, you know how this works. We step back to the 1960’s, a time I am quite familiar with, and we ponder life then, and now, while sitting on the front porch.

We won’t be long and, I promise, you will not feel any adverse effects from the journey.

Shall we get started?

Where I learned respect of others.

Where I learned respect of others.

The Year Was 1960

I was twelve-years old in 1960, feeling my oats, feeling frisky, trying to carve out a foothold for myself as I approached my teen years, alternately excited and scared-spitless. My childhood had been a good one up to 1960. I was a middle-class white kid, I had two loving parents, and I was not wanting for any of the essentials of life.

I was an average student in 1960. I was much more concerned about sports, and being liked by my peers, than I was about dangling participles and the War of 1812. I loved baseball and I loved bowling, and beyond that I was a bit ambivalent. Girls scared the hell out of me. Nuns scared the hell out of me. I was safely tucked in my protective cocoon, wet behind the ears, waiting to spread my wings and fly, but not knowing what actual flight looked or felt like.

Proctor Bowling Alley

I spent most Saturdays at the Proctor Bowling Alley, located six blocks from my house. There I would spend whatever money I had made the previous week doing chores. Saturdays meant league bowling. Every Saturday our junior team, made up of five members, would take on a junior team from another bowling alley in Tacoma. It was great fun, it was competitive, and it taught us all about sportsmanship.

That particular season, in October, one member of our team came down with Chicken Pox, was sidelined for a month, which meant we needed a substitute to fill in for him, and that substitute turned out to be a new kid in the neighborhood, a kid we’ll call Sean. Truthfully, I no longer remember Sean’s last name, but I do remember he was an Army brat, meaning his family moved quite a bit. I also remember that Sean only had one normal hand. A birth defect left Sean with a left hand missing all fingers.

That was cool with all of us on the team. Sean was a nice guy, he was a pretty fair bowler, and he was accepted quickly by us all – but then our competition for that day, the team from Tower Lanes, arrived to play against us, and the snide, hurtful remarks began.

Kids are kids! That’s not an excuse, but it is a fact. Kids will make fun of those who are very different, whether it be the shy kid or the fat kid or, in that instance, the kid with one normal hand and one hand missing fingers.

My moral compass

My moral compass

A Tough Couple Weeks

We made it through that first week, and a couple weeks after that, our team members telling the visiting teams to shut up, knock it off, that sort of stuff, Sean embarrassed but holding his own, but then Week Four arrived, a team from Skyline Bowl arrived, and halfway through the first game, Sean fell to the floor, started to roll around, his eyes rolled back in his head, and he foamed at the mouth.

An epileptic fit, and trust me, none of us had ever seen anything like it in our sheltered lives.

The manager of the bowling alley came running down, rolled Sean over on his side, and about two minutes later the seizure ended, Sean was helped up, and shortly after that his mother came and took a crying Sean home.

Post-Seizure Period

Sean never again bowled in the league with us. As was the norm, word of the seizure, the kid with one hand, spread like wildfire through the neighborhood. Sean couldn’t go to the store on his bike without neighborhood kids mocking him by pretending to have a seizure, dropping to the ground, rolling around, that sort of stupid-ass crap. It was ugly, it was cruel, and, I’m sad to say, all too common then and now.

Sean and I remained friends until the day came when we both went away to college. During those teen years, Sean would ride his bike over to my house, and take part in games of football or baseball with my buddies. He was safe with us. We would stand by him, and fight with him, whenever a group of Neanderthals would pass by. Sean’s parents would visit my parents, come over for barbecues, card parties at night, pretty common stuff, and Sean and I would listen to music and laugh the way teenage boys laugh.

I’ve often thought about Sean. I wish I could remember his last name. I’d look him up, catch up on the past, find out how his life turned out.

They have some pretty effective medicines now for epilepsy. I’m hoping Sean found one of them and he was able to live a fairly normal life. I’m hoping the cruel treatment by others subsided, and Sean was allowed to live a life of peace.

I do a lot of hoping.

A Word of Two About Those Neanderthals

That’s what I call them, Neanderthals, because the other names I want to call them are unacceptable for this medium.

The thing is, to my way of thinking, those kids who made fun of Sean, who mocked him and ridiculed him, those kids were lacking a moral compass. It’s an injustice to chalk it up to boys just being boys. It’s insulting, quite frankly. Boys will be boys, but at no time is cruelty acceptable. Every mother’s son of them knew, when they were mocking Sean, that it was wrong to do so, but they embraced the pack mentality and went along for the ride, leaving Sean a weeping mound of flesh and blood with a severely wounded psyche.

I’m trying to image what it would have been like, in my home, if I had been one of those kids who mocked Sean. I promise you, no hyperbole at all, that my dad would have whipped my ass. He wouldn’t have stood for it. But that situation never would have happened, and the reason it wouldn’t have happened is because my parents raised me with a moral compass.

I say this to you now, as I would have said it to you then: not one person, whether that person be the President of the United States, or some teen in a bowling alley, has the right to mock a handicapped person.

And I say this to you as well: anyone who supports a person who would mock a handicapped person is guilty by association, is guilty of enabling that person, and shame on anyone who would allow that to happen. They are lacking a moral compass, period, end of story!

Sit a spell and let's talk

Sit a spell and let's talk

Our Journey Has Ended

Thanks so much for joining me on our trip back in time. It was nice having you as company. I certainly hope you don’t think I was talking about anyone in particular in today’s world. I’m afraid I’m just not clever enough to do that.


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 19, 2020:

Thank you Nithya! I'm hoping his last name will just pop in my head one of these days. I would like to try and reconnect with him.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 19, 2020:

Thank you Dora! I sure hope we correct our national mistake in two weeks.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on October 19, 2020:

I hope you reconnect with Sean. You must have made Sean happy by being his friend and supporting him. I totally agree with you, no one has the right to mock a handicapped person. Thank you for sharing your personal experiences with us.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on October 18, 2020:

Thanks for sharing another caring, sensitive side of you in this childhood story. I endorse your conclusion. No such super-selfish, inhumane individual should be given leadership.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 17, 2020:

You betcha, Bill! Thanks for stopping by.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 17, 2020:

No, and we didn't go to the same high school. I was a Catholic boy, and we were special, Sha. lol

William Leverne Smith from Hollister, MO on October 16, 2020:

Well said, Bill. Thanks for sharing!! ;-)

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on October 16, 2020:

Bill, do you still have your high school yearbook? Sean will be in there.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 16, 2020:

Very true, Devika. Thank you for your kind words. I hope this finds you well and healthy.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 16, 2020:

Fearful indeed, Miebakagh! Thanks for sharing that.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 16, 2020:

I'm with you, Marlene. There is too much pain in the world right now. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we all added to the joy?

Be well, my friend!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 16, 2020:

I did not get it the first time, Lora, so thanks for coming back. I appreciate you making the effort, because it's always nice to hear from you.

I do believe in karma, and I do believe bullies eventually pay the price. I shouldn't say this, but I hope they do. :(

I hope you are well. Have a wonderful weekend, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 16, 2020:

Thanks for sharing that, Pamela. Yes, I can see that reaction happening, people just staying away from the girl, which is in itself a terrible way to handle things, but it's probably still better than unending bullying.

Sigh! We humans can be problematic, can't we?

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 16, 2020:

Thanks, Sha! I really do feel bad that I can't remember his last name. I can see his face, but I can't grab ahold of that last name for whatever reason. It will probably come to me when I least expect it.

As for Trump, enough said. We are down to less than three weeks. All we can do now is hope like hell.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 16, 2020:

Same here, Ann! I don't think I'd want to buddy up to your Boris, but I love the Brits I know online. It's all good as long as we keep things in perspective, yes?

Have a brilliant weekend, my friend.


Devika Primic on October 16, 2020:

A brilliant read and so much to keep in mind here of what was and of how people are treated with disabilities. What is said today is not thought well by most who disrespect others for what is not their fault.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on October 15, 2020:

Hill Bill, yes it's "Karma." I would have had mention it but I was afraid! Karma is a fearful thing indeed. Let me illustrate. When my first child and son was 3 years, a girl of about 13 years report to me he sexually defiled a girl of 7! I did not knew better. My mother happen to over-heard the report and inform that the girls' intentiont was for me to beat my boy, since I was a strict parent. Five years later she was sexually defiled and inpregnant by two men. That is how fearful karma is. Thanks for weighing.

Marlene Bertrand from USA on October 15, 2020:

This journey sent me away crying for Sean. I hope he is living a fabulous life right now, in spite of all the meanness he endured. And I pray that every one of those who made fun of him are living a repentant life, sorry for what they did and I pray that they have never hurt anyone like that again.

Lora Hollings on October 15, 2020:

Hi Bill, Did you get my first comment? I don’t see it posted here. Let me know and perhaps I can post it again. I don’t think I said anything too bad about Trump. I know it was a bit negative but I don’t think it was anything out of line. I certainly know his behavior is out of line and we all need to think about who shows a moral compass when we vote and think about the way they treat other people as a clear manifestation of their character. I don’t think bullies, in the end, have a good life. I think that they get retribution in one way or another for the way they treat others. I bet Sean had a much better life in the long run then those bullies who said those terribly mean things to him. “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on October 15, 2020:

This journey broght back a memory for me also. When I was in the 6th grade and leaving school one afternoon this girl I didn't know fell own and had a seizure. None of us had ever seen anything like that and it was shocking. This girl was in a different class from me, so I really don't know if she was teased or ridiculed. At the time we were all told to go home, and I don't remember the teacher ever telling us a thing about that poor girl afterwards. I think an explanation would have been good as I believe people just stayed away from her, like she had leprosy.

I agree with you about having a moral compass. I don't remember any of my friends that made fun of others and I was raised to be considerate too. This is a good article Bill and I enjoyed your recollections.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on October 15, 2020:

Bill, it says so much about your character in the way you befriended "Sean". It would break my heart to see the way that poor boy was treated by his peers. I'm sure his mother inwardly cried each and every day.

Too bad you can't remember his last name. It would be awesome to discover what he's been up to all these years. I would venture to say he rose above and became an amazing human being with an impressive career.

As far as Trump, all I can say is: He's an ass. He's no role model. If he can't treat fellow humans with respect, why in the hell would anyone want him to represent us as individuals and us as a country?

We'll see what happens in the next couple of weeks.

Ann Carr from SW England on October 15, 2020:

Don't worry, bill, our leaders aren't the best either, though I do admit it would take a lot to match Mr President! It's the individuals who count and the Americans I know are kind, charming people.


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 15, 2020:

I'm with you, Mary! I watch a half-hour of the news each evening. That's all I can stomach.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 15, 2020:

It's always my pleasure, Li-Jen! Thank you for being a part of my little circle of online friends.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 15, 2020:

Ann, as always, thank you for sharing. I had a student with Crohn's once, and no bullying occurred because of it which, honestly, surprised me. Maybe there's hope after all.

As for political leaders, I'm at times ashamed to tell people I'm an American. It is not the badge of honor it once was.

Have a marvelous Thursday, Ann!


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 15, 2020:

Thank you Linda! I do believe in the goodness of people, but there is a minority which really challenge that belief.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 15, 2020:

Twenty days to go, Flourish. I am pleased to see record turnouts in voting. I think that is a very positive sign.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 15, 2020:

That was quite common back in the 40's and 50's, Meg. I remember it. Thankfully that habit changed as the years passed.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 15, 2020:

And love to you, Audrey! I don't know how we reached this point in our history, but it's sad to see. I, for one, hope that love will win out.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 15, 2020:

Well thank you, Denise, for joining us. I spend a lot of time mulling over life. You are always welcome to join in on the mulling sessions.

Blessings always


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 15, 2020:

I believe that as well, MIebakagh! I like to call it karma, and it does return to those who deserve a wake-up call.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 15, 2020:

You are very welcome, Peggy! This topic is so important, I believe. I can't believe people are willing to vote for someone who regularly mocks others. What have we become as a civilization?

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 15, 2020:

If this helped you, Rodric, then I'm a happy writer. Thanks, my friend. Take care!

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on October 15, 2020:

I'm happy that you speak out strongly on this issue, Bill. It is beyond incredulity when the highest leader of a country resort to this. I have stopped watching because I just can't stomach any bullying I see from leaders.

Li-Jen Hew on October 15, 2020:

Hi Bill, thanks for spreading the kindness. We need little reminders like this to come to our senses. Thank you for sharing!

Ann Carr from SW England on October 15, 2020:

My granddaughter was bullied a couple of times at primary school. She had no handicap, was always friendly and liked to help people, give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe her popularity made her the butt of bullying, I'm not sure. However, she moved schools the first time but the second time she decided, at 10 years old, to ride it through and tell the bullies that she didn't want to know them. It worked.

Now she is a beautiful, wonderful nearly 20-year-old with a humorous, balanced outlook and a kind heart. She has Crohn's but as far as I know, no one has mocked that. Luckily, she has a 'bubble' of kind flatmates at Uni.

I shudder when I listen to 'some' people in authority. Do they really think they are making an impression? Do they know what respect means? I hope they all get their just desserts and that we can look forward to some intelligent, reasonable, compassionate leaders and doers.

I enjoyed time-travelling with you today, bill!


Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on October 14, 2020:

Thank you for creating this article, Bill. As others have said, the timing is perfect. I share your point of view. I wish more people did.

FlourishAnyway from USA on October 14, 2020:

I join Audrey in saying it is the perfect timing for this article. Vote, vote, vote with your moral compass because our lives and futures depend on this.

RoadMonkey on October 14, 2020:

It's great to know that some people had the guts to stand up for others even back in those days. I don't recall any handicapped people in the area where I lived. If I heard of them and asked why I hadn't seen them, my mother would say that they were kept "hidden away". That's what happened then, their families were ashamed of having a handicapped child and they never went out! I do remember one handicapped lady but she was old and no one made fun of her.

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on October 14, 2020:

Respect seems to be a word from the past replaced by entitlement. Sadly, this is all too common these days. Our leaders lack ethics. Bullying runs rampant.

Perfect timing for releasing this article. Thank you, Bill.



Denise McGill from Fresno CA on October 14, 2020:

I wholeheartedly agree. There is no excuse for it. I remember a girl in my junior high who was a bit of a loner. I liked her and tried to befriend her. One day she had an epileptic seizure between classes. And thus the ridicule began. She ended up transferring to a different school. It was a crying shame if you ask me. No one should have the start over just because of a medical condition. I loved your analysis of the situation and the Neanderthals that made it worse. Your porch is such a good place to mull these things over. Thanks for the time trip.



Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on October 14, 2020:

Hi Bill, interesting time machine indeed. At that your age of 12 or less, it is not in me to make fun of a handicap person. From my observation about others, it brings in much problems. Usually, nature always curse such persons.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on October 14, 2020:

I am with you 100% on this one. No one has the right to bully or make fun of another person. Kids, if they come from good families, are taught this. If adults are still doing this, it shows a lack of morality. When people in authority do it, mocking or bullying people is even worse because they should be held to an even higher standard. They can influence others with their actions.

Timely article! Thanks for writing it.

Rodric Anthony Johnson from Surprise, Arizona on October 14, 2020:

This article helped me determine who I should vote for as I sit here looking at my mail-in ballot. Thanks, Bill. I shed some tears here.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 14, 2020:

Thank you for sharing that, Linda. I have zero tolerance for bullies. I have seen the pain they inflict, and it is cruel and unacceptable.

Give that daughter of yours a hug for me, will you?

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 14, 2020:

Bullying seems to be coming back in style, John. Maybe it never ended. Maybe social media is just bringing it out in the open now, like racism. All I know is it needs to be dealt with whenever we see it.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 14, 2020:

Thanks for your thoughts, Rosina! A man can lack a good many things, but as long as he has a moral compass, and follows it, he is a man I would call a friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 14, 2020:

Louise, I suspect bullying is quite complicated at its source. I'm not a psychologist, but I am a human, and I can't tolerate bullying no matter the cause or reason. It's just the way I'm wired, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 14, 2020:

"Sit a spell"....my family is from the Midwest, Iowa, and they always said that, so I'm not sure the origin of it. I just like the way it feels so welcoming.

Good luck with that busy day, Mr. Happy! My best to you!

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on October 14, 2020:

Bill, this one cuts deep to my heart. You've met my daughters, and you know that the older one is developmentally delayed. What you probably didn't know is that she too has epilepsy.

I'm so glad that you took Sean in as a friend, giving him someone he could relax with and be at ease, someone who would treat him the way we all want to be treated, with respect.

I'm certain that Sean's parents loved you. The pain they felt in seeing his humiliation was 100 times greater than the hurt he was feeling.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on October 14, 2020:

A wonderful trip back in time, Bill. I can always relate to your childhood memories. Kids seem to be the same everywhere the world over, and some are cruel and bullies. I am glad yo made friends with Sean, and hope he managed to have a happy and successful life as an adult. Thank you for reminding us of some of the failings of our fellow human beings though.

Rosina S Khan on October 14, 2020:

It's nice to know, Bill that you were friends with a handicapped child, Sean during your childhood while many others ridiculed or mocked him. That was in 1960. Now, at the present, some of the young generation kids would do the same to handicapped kids of about their age. It is true back then and now they behaved so because they lacked a moral compass. I am glad you brought up this issue in your writing which needs awareness from the parents as well so that these kids could be kept under control. Great article.

Louise Elcross from Preston on October 14, 2020:

Thanks Bill for sharing this touching story of your childhood. I do hope you remember the surname of Sean and find him and I hope he had a good life despite being bullied by Neanderthals without moral compass. I was taught that bullies were usually the ones that were bullied at home so hopefully the bullies of that time have learnt from their bullying ways.

Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on October 14, 2020:

"not one person, whether that person be the President of the United States, or some teen in a bowling alley, has the right to mock a handicapped person." - I'm with You on that. I will not stand for it and will not let anything like that happen anywhere around me. I'll go hunting.

"Sit a spell" - is that like a Southern saying? Never heard it before. "Spells" for me are sorcery and one "casts" spells, not sits on them. Haha!!

That gave me the giggles : )

Alrighty, I got a busy day ahead. Thank You for the writing. All the very best!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 14, 2020:

Thanks for sharing, Heidi, and for spending some time with me. You are always a welcomed guest, even though it's getting a bit chilly on the porch. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 14, 2020:

Sally, it's good to hear from you. I hope you are doing well. So terribly sad, that the young man committed suicide. I find that just so depressing, giving up on life, but I also understand it.

Anyway, thank you my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 14, 2020:

Thanks Brenda! It really bugs me that I can't remember his name. I can see his face in my mind, but that last name escapes me. Sigh!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 14, 2020:

Thank you Liz! I enjoyed your company on the porch this morning. Let's do it again soon.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on October 14, 2020:

I agree, kids can be cruel, regardless of generation. I don't think it's lack of a moral compass. It's more of an undeveloped compass. But whether that eventually develops into a positive moral compass depends on so many factors. Family, community, jobs, education, intelligence, the list is endless. Like yours, mocking the weak was unacceptable in our house. And it's unacceptable for me as an adult.

We had a girl in my 8th grade class who had epilepsy. Those seizures are scary. Luckily now they do have meds that help lessen the effects of the disease. I hope she got them, too.

Thanks for chatting. See you next time on the porch!

Sally Gulbrandsen from Norfolk on October 14, 2020:

I can't think of a better name for the Neanderthals either because we had some of them in our school. We also had one pupil who was epileptic, the kindest shyest person who suffered terribly at the hands of the Neanderthals. They teased him endlessly, barked at him as if he were a dog and generally made pigs of themselves. At times the lad would go away to a clinic or hospital where staff there tried to get his medication right. It never happened and after I left school I learned that the young man gave up on life when he committed suicide. So sad.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on October 14, 2020:

Bill, It's a shame you cannot remember Sean's name. The two of you would have a great visit.

It is awful the way kids are & today with smart phones I hear it is even worse since news spreads quickly to everyone in a matter of seconds.

You are right about the moral compass.

My parents would have whipped my ass also.

We were raised differently. To respect others. I am not sure what happened to this next generation of parents but kids today have no morals.

Thanks for the share.

Liz Westwood from UK on October 14, 2020:

You make very valid and relevant points through the medium of your writing in this thought-provoking article.

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