By Example

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Henry Matthew Ward

When I got mad and hit my child 
"For his own good," I reconciled 
And then, I realized my plight 
Today, I taught my child to fight.

When interrupted by the phone I said, 
"Tell them I'm not at home." 
And then I thought, and had to sigh 
Today I taught my child to lie.

I told the tax man what I made 
Forgetting cash that I was paid 
And then I blushed at this sad feat 
Today, I taught my child to cheat.

I smugly copied a cassette, 
To keep me free of one more debt. 
But now the bells of shame must peal 
Today, I taught my child to steal.

Today, I cursed another race. 
Oh God, protect what I debase, 
For now, I fear it is too late. 
Today, I taught my child to hate.

By my example, children learn 
That I must lead in life's sojourn 
In such a way that they are led 
By what is done, not what is said.

Today, I gave my child his due 
By Praises for him instead of rue. 
And now I have begun my guide: 
Today, I gave my child his pride.

I now have reconciled and paid 
To IRS on all I made. 
And now I know that this dear youth 
Today has learned from me of Truth.

The alms I give are not for show 
And yet, this child must surely know 
That charity is worth the price; 
Today, he saw my sacrifice.

I clasp within a warm embrace 
My neighbor of another race- 
The great commandment from above. 
Today, I taught my child to love.

Someday, my child must face alone 
This world of fearsome undertone, 
But I have blazed a sure pathway; 
Today, I taught my child to pray.