As a kid growing up, I -and I'm sure many of you-- lied to my parents about something, only to later be found out.
I was told, like most kids, not to do that again. But most of all, my parents tried to teach me that what I did was not nearly as bad as "lying" about it.
"Tell the truth" and we won't get angry, my parents taught me. Even though behavior had consequences, "sorry" seemed to help lessen our sentences to almost nothing.
We, in turn, taught the same to our children. "Telling the truth" was the most important thing they could do. "It was me Mom, I'm the one who took the extra cookies and I'm sorry" almost got you an additional cookie.
Somewhere in the past decade, there were those who forgot that important lesson --Bill Clinton, Martha Stewart, and Scooter Libby among them. If only they would have just told the truth, and not tried to cover it up, they would never have suffered the horrible consequences that befell them, dwarfing their contributions.
But recently the tide has turned. Who says that we don't learn from our mistakes?
In today's world of cell phones, video phones, instant blogging, and photo messaging, it is almost impossible to lie, because too many of our public figures get "caught in the act." Lying was always bad, but in today's wired world it turns out to be stupid.
In the past twelve months we have seen John Kerry, Isaiah Washington, Mel Gibson, Rush Limbaugh, George Allen and most recently, Gavin Newsom publicly apologize for their actions, in some cases more than once.
"I'm sorry" has replaced, "I didn't say that" or "I didn't do that" as the most efficient means of moving on. After all, what do you say to someone after they apologize so earnestly, with words scripted for them by people paid a lot of money to know exactly how to "cover their ass."
Fortunately for these repentant Americans, there are forgiveness seekers following on their heels at such an accelerated pace that we really don't have much time to ponder their individual mistakes.
And truth be known, we're also caught in the drama of our own lives, to us easily as important as the latest public blowup.
You are, for example, confronted by your significant other with some horrific thing he or she thinks you have done. You have hurt them, made a mistake, disappointed them, even lied. Their voice is rising to a crescendo.
To avoid an all out war, "I'm sorry", you say, immediately interrupting their rhythm: "I am so so sorry. What else can I say? I'm wrong, and I am deeply sorry."
Silence. Where does your partner/opponent go from there? Over!
Point, Set, Match!