Teaching The Truth With Compassion

People Lie. We all know that. Right?

Although most of us will not admit to being one of them. Whether it’s to save ourselves or to lessen the harm to others, one out of every five of our interactions with others contain a lie. For the better part of every day, we are interacting with others. Trust and betrayal are the most important issues to arise between people and the majority of communication most we hear in our culture is criticisms, judgments and lies. Not many of us have learned truthfulness and sincerity, as ways to express ourselves and honor others without alienating them.

As shocking as it sounds, kids lie too.

Researchers found that children begin to lie as young as age 2, usually to conceal transgressions. Because they are not well developed cognitively, their lies are thin and they get caught. Evidence shows that most  parents actually favor punishing deception rather than rewarding truthfulness. Kids become increasingly more sophisticated at  lying as they get older. By late childhood it is almost impossible for adults to tell if a kid is lying or telling the truth.

Meanwhile, most of us agree that trust is an essential foundation to a life of civility.

Lying erodes trust. We espouse beliefs such as “Honesty is the best policy”, “The truth will set you free”, “Above all, to thine own self be true, then you can’t be false to any man.” But, we aren’t very good at doing what we believe to be the right thing.

In a civilized world, honesty and compassion must go hand in hand.

Honesty is the complement to caring and compassion. Because of how powerful compassion is at creating connection sometimes compassion is given priority over honesty. That’s one of the reasons some people use to justify using what they call Little White Lies. Honesty is important regardless. Without the honesty noone can really be understood.

To help parents teach useful skills, B.F. Skinner developed the concept and child developmental professional have advised parents to try to ignore children’s bad behavior and reward their good behavior. Positive reinforcement amounted to catching kids doing good and paying attention to that. Negative reinforcement is more like intimidation, threats and punishment. In other words, positive actions are more effective than negative ones and better results. For most parents, that seems counter-productive. Many think ignoring is the same as tolerating and it seems like they are failing to do their duty as parents. Most ignore the advise and punish anyway.

To test the effectiveness of this idea, a team of psychological scientists from Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies worked with groups of kids ages 3-7 to see if just a brief, but engaging exposure to moral instruction tempered kids’ natural deceptiveness. They designed an elaborate experiment in which 3- to 7-year-olds were given a fairly irresistible opportunity to cheat in a game, and then were asked whether or not they had cheated. In the experimental group one of three stories; Pinocchio, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, and George Washington and the Cherry Tree were read to the kids. Kids in the control group heard The Hare and the Tortoise (which does not deal with honesty or lying) and if any of the three stories was more effective than the others with an honesty test. But before the honesty test, each of the kids heard a reading of one of the three stories. Then they used three morality tales to instruct them about morality in an abstract way and also to shape their moral behavior. As reported both approaches can activate and sustain performance

The scientists predicted that all three of these stories would be effective in promoting honesty in kids.

The results were intriguing—and unexpected. As reported in an article to appear in the journal Psychological Science, both Pinocchio and The Boy Who Cried Wolf failed to moderate the kids’ tendency to lie about their own transgressions.  Only George Washington and the Cherry Tree significantly increased the likelihood that the cheating kids would tell on themselves—and this effect was found regardless of age.

So why would these classic tales of lying and consequences not do their job?

Well, the scientists suspected that it might be the nature of the consequences. Both Pinocchio and the shepherd boy experience very negative consequences as a result of their dishonesty—public humiliation in one case, a violent death in the other. Young George’s story, by contrast, emphasizes the virtue of honesty and sends the message that truth telling leads to positive consequences. These results taken together suggest the opposite—that emphasizing the positive value of honesty is more effective than accentuating the negative.


Dr. Rachell Anderson is a licensed Clinical Psychologist, a Professor Emeritus and author. She taught at the University of Illinois and ran a private Clinical in Springfield, Illinois for more than 40 years. She now lives in Tunica, Mississippi and wrires with the Tunica Chapter of the Mississippi Writers Guild. Check out her website at WWW.drrachellanderson.com for more articles and books she has written.


Photo courtesy of “Smiling Son Hugging His Mother And Father” by stockimages and Free Digital Photos

And We Cry Timber (Part Four)

By the time Mississippi Governor Martin S. Conner left office in 1936, there was a treasury surplus.

Agriculture now a diminishing major employer for the state, Conner had helped establish the “Balance Agriculture With Industry” (B.A.W.I) program that pulled outside capital into Mississippi and assured locally financed factory construction and tax exemptions.

The arrival of the pulp and paper industry to the South provided an outlet for parts of the wood that had otherwise been considered worthless. In the thirties, the price of pulpwood was from twenty-five to fifty cents a cord stumpage. But as more and more pulp mills were established and competition for wood increased, the price per cord stumpage increased drastically. Timber men realized they could actually invest in their forests, which in turn helped promote the need for forestry in Mississippi.

U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt emphasized the importance of establishing national forests.

Mississippi Senator Pat Harrison, then chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, would be instrumental in designating $50 million for land purchases.  Appointed as forest supervisor from August 1933 through June 1940, Ray M. Conarro located, surveyed and purchased lands that designated the original Mississippi national forests.  The surveys concentrated on areas belonging to large land owners, such as the Long-Bell Lumber Company who was the major landowner of the Quitman unit in Lauderdale, Newton, Clarke, Newton and Jasper counties.

Just north of Meridian, the firm of Sumter Lumber Company operated at Electric Mills, which had earned its name because the mill there was considered the first in the south to be powered by electricity in a time when everybody else was using steam engines and belts. When Electric Mills stopped production sometime in 1939, some of the timber was bought by Flintkote in Meridian.

By 1937, private owners controlled 75 percent of the country’s forests,

but employed less than 10 percent professional foresters.  Flintkote of Meridian and DeWeese Lumber Company in Neshoba County were among the first to hire actual foresters.  Flintkote purchased cutover land in eastern Mississippi, comprising approximately 90 thousand acres which served as a pulpwood reserve for the Meridian plant. This land would be overseen year round by experienced woodsmen and three graduate foresters.  One of these foresters was Arthur W. Nelson, Jr.

In the 1930’s, after receiving his B. S. degree in forestry at the University of Idaho and a Masters in Forestry from the Yale Forest School, Arthur W. Nelson, Jr. learned that if he wanted to really accomplish something in forestry during his life, he should head south.  In 1940, Nelson was hired by Meridian’s Flintkote to handle the forestry and timber procurement for a new wood fiber insulation board mill. At the time, the company’s properties consisted of mostly abandoned, sub-marginal land. Mississippi Forests and Forestry states that Nelson impressed with the incredibly fast timber growth and quoted him as saying that “if nature was given just half a chance—a little fire protection—saving some seed trees—the forest would start on its way back.” From his observations of the “cut out and get out” era, he noted that because lumbermen harvested mostly 200-300 hundred year-old trees in a neglected forest, they believed it would be take too long to wait for another crop to mature to cutting age. An abandoned field left over from clear cutting that had seeded up directly in pine seedlings originated the term ‘old field’ stand.

In 1943, the tree farm movement infiltrated the state.

Nelson also pointed out that the pulp and paper market supplied a market for smaller trees.  In only a few years, landowners could enjoy a cash return on the simple thinning and removing trees that hindered the growing of larger trees for poles and saw logs.  Private forestry became practical and profitable. In the early years of forestry, fire-fighting equipment was limited to backpack pumps, fire flaps, and hand rakes. Tall trees served as fire towers for lookout posts.  During Nelson’s tenure at Flintkote, he used a backpack pump and carried spare water in old milk jugs. Foresters did not utilize two-way radios until 1946.  Therefore communication concerning forest fires was limited from fire tower to fire tower. By 1955 Mississippi led the entire nation in progressive forestry practices used by private forest owners. Public and private foresters, through the efforts of forestry and the aide of Mother Nature, had witnessed the incredible revival of Mississippi’s great forests. Nelson remained Chief Forester for the Flintkote Company until 1957.

In 1956, Mississippi lumber mills started utilizing residue from coarse sawmill for pulp chips.  One of the first lumber companies to attain complete use of its raw material was Sanders Lumber Company in Meridian.

For more than a century, agriculture had been the primary way of life in Lauderdale County.

When the experimentation of the raising of livestock arrived, livestock and dairy herds began rivaling cotton and row farming and lessening the role of agriculture in Lauderdale County’s economy.  For instance, agriculture employment in 1930 was approximately 43,680 as compared to 1968 when the State Employment Security Commission estimated it to be only 9,300 persons, according to Overall Economic Development Program for East Central Mississippi, East Central Economic Development District.  Nevertheless, agricultural sales in 1930 totaled $200,513,000 while in 1966 they totaled of $908.1 million. This huge contradiction in numbers can be contributed to the increase of agricultural machinery, such as machine planters, crop harvesters and tractors with tillage. Mechanization had enabled large farm owners to dominate the agricultural industry, but regrettably they left the small farm owners little to profit from.

After WWII, manufacturing employment in Lauderdale County was approximately 4,000 employees, earning $6,500,000 in annual wages. The United States Census Bureau defined a farm as being as a place comprising of at least 10 acres devoted to farming or selling at $50 worth of agricultural products annually.  According to this definition, Lauderdale County has 1,673 farms in 1959 with farm size averaging 129 acres.  71% of all counties in the US had a greater proportion of land in farms than Lauderdale County, MS.  In the 1960’s, Meridian became the second largest city in the state and the only advanced industrially developed urban area as compared to other counties located in Mississippi’s eastern central district.

Arthur Nelson, after relocating to Texas to work for Champion’s Timber and Chemical and Woodlands Division in Texas, becoming Vice President for natural resources in 1969 and vice president for industry affairs in 1973, retired to Meridian where he managed his tree farm.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3


by Richelle Putnam

Resources for Part 1, 2, 3, 4

Jim Dawson, History of Lauderdale County, Mississippi School System, Edited by doug little and Birdie Mae Rogers, 1988 Lauderdale County Department of Archives and History.

Mississippi: a History, John K. Bettersworth, copyright 1959, The Steck Company


A History of Mississippi, Volume I, University and College Press of Mississippi

The Mississippi Territory and the Southwest Frontier, 1795-1817 by Robert V. Haynes





Overall Economic Development Program for East Central Mississippi, East Central Economic Development District, Inc., 1969, Newton, Mississippi

The New Book of Knowledge, Grolier Incorporated, 2001