So many of my fellow bloggers know that I’ve been teaching school. Today, I had to cover for P.E. class for elementary school. It was fascinating to observe the students and how they chose to play the games. One of the games that I played with the younger students is called Pacman tag. Pacman tag basics are pretty simple: every student must walk, four students are picked as taggers called a ghost, and all the students must follow the gym lines when moving.
At the beginning of class, I explained the rules to the students, but I also used the time to teach a moral lesson to the students. I asked, “Who here thinks that lying is a good?” If the students understood the question, of course, they answered “no” or didn’t raise their hand. After they had answered the question, I explained to them that if they were tagged by their fellow students; refused to sit out, ran, or didn’t use the lines; then they would be lying. The students all agreed.
However, after a few moments after the game had started nearly every student began to cheat in some way, whether they ran, cut the inside corner of a line, or wouldn’t sit out. I thought to myself, “Well, this pretty much in a nutshell explains human society.” Most of the students either didn’t care what I had to say, others only cared if I gave them a favor or smote their fellow classmates, and the rest pretended like I didn’t exist.
Why is this?
St. Augustine, I believe, explain very well in his Confessions why as a society we all act in this manner. St. Augustine writes, “What thief puts up with another thief…Not even a rich thief will pardon one who steals from him because of want…In a garden nearby to our vineyard there was a pear tree, loaded with fruit that was desirable neither in appearance nor in taste…We took great loads of fruit from it, not for our own eating, but rather to throw it to pigs; even if we did eat a little of it, we did this to do what pleased us for the reason that it was forbidden.”
In retrospect to my observations, it’s interesting to connect Augustine’s words here to how the game was played. There were probably less than five kids playing the game by the rules; however, strangely enough, I was always speaking to other students complaining how others were cheating. I’d stop and remind them of past events, “I just saw you break the rules, why was it now important that your fellow classmates are made to follow something you did not?”
Kids are interesting folks, because although many were cheating, at the same time, there was a sort of a honesty about how they went about it that doesn’t occur in adults. I believe this explained also well in Confessions, “Thus it is not the infant’s will that is harmless, but the weakness of infant limbs. I myself have seen and have had experience with a jealous little one; it was not yet able to speak, but it was pale and bitter in the face as it looked at another child nursing at the same breast.”
So if this behavior, which Augustine observes is humanity’s sinful nature, is innate from our infancy to old limbs, what does this mean for society?
Please, comment below.
 Augustine of Hippo, Confessions, trans. John K. Ryan (New York: Image Books, 2014,) 28.
 Ibid, 8.