Most of us possess at least decent core values, and we try our best to hold true to them. But we’re not immune from frequent screw-ups. That doesn’t automatically make us rotten to the core, it just means we’re humans and we are not infallible.

    Whose values do you reflect?

    Now there's a question chewier than a Milk Dud hopelessly stuck in your teeth.

    It might be a question worth pondering for a bit, because, apparently, we are walking values reflectors every waking moment of every day. And we can place a sure-thing wager that if we ever misstep while on our life's path, those we are affiliated with will be crawling over each other to be the first to publicly proclaim that we most certainly do not reflect their values.

    I work for the Crookston Daily Times, owned by GateHouse Media, which owns hundreds of newspapers from sea to shining sea. GateHouse employees are required to periodically invest a few hours in a bevy of online training sessions that teach us to be ethical and above-board, to not harass, and to not violate the company's code of conduct. It's quite an official undertaking, with the goal being that the thousands of people employed by GateHouse Media reflect the values of GateHouse Media.

    This is nothing new. Tiny employers to massive conglomerates want their employees to be positive, well-behaved people. They also want various efforts to secure that beneficial behavior validated, in the form of official training accompanied by official documentation. That way, if anyone messes up, the company can publicly proclaim, if necessary, that the misbehaving employee does not reflect the company's values.

    Really, though, this is mostly about companies covering their butts, whether it involves the endless battle in the court of public opinion, or simply trying to avoid liability or culpability for the negative behaviors of anyone on the payroll that might result in litigation in actual court.

    It's like every story template today that details some random person’s wrongdoings has to include the obligatory paragraph where the person's employer or anyone else of significance that the person is affiliated with publicly distances themselves from the ne’er-do-well by announcing that the person in no uncertain terms is a rogue loner when it comes to the values (or lack thereof) he or she possesses, and therefore reflects.

    Look at the Minnesota high school student, a white dude, who asked his super-close friend, a black girl, to the homecoming dance recently. They're so tight that he figured he could get away with a joke, so he made her a poster that depicted a cotton field and mentioned her picking it. I know...dumb move, right? But the girl took the joke perfectly in stride and happily said yes to her friend's homecoming invitation. They were so comfortable with the situation that they posted his homecoming request, including the cardboard sign, and her acceptance on social media. And all hell promptly and predictably broke loose in the form of today's digital, electronic outrage and public shaming that ignites when our social media feed is populated by someone who's screwed up. Soon, the teen had removed his social media posts, he was apologizing for his "racist" behavior, and his school was announcing publicly that he does not reflect their values.

    No, but he does reflect the values of today's culture, or maybe just overzealous helicopter moms reliving their underwhelming adolescence through their kids, that demands a boy skydive in - while playing bagpipes, mind you, because anyone can just skydive - his request that a girl accompany him to prom or homecoming.

    Then there's the supposed-to-be-unarmed security guard at St. Catherine's University in Minnesota last week who accidentally shot himself in the shoulder with his own gun, panicked, and blamed a "suspicious" black guy he said he'd confronted on campus. The campus was locked down, the neighborhood was put on high alert, everyone was on edge, and a massive law enforcement search for the black suspect commenced. But authorities soon realized that the security guard's account of what had transpired was shaky, and he 'fessed up. Cue the outrage. Rightfully so in this case, though, and very soon we had the St. Cate's brass chiming in with their public pronouncement that the security guard didn't reflect the university's values.

    But he does reflect the values of a nation that basically lets anyone with a pulse arm themselves and empty their clip in a rain of hellfire whenever they come across something that quickens their pulse. And when they're dopey enough to actually shoot themselves with their own gun while performing the duties of a job that says they shouldn’t be unarmed...well, just blame the nearest scary black guy, because at this particular moment in time in this particular nation, you just might get away with it.

    It’s like this day after day. Someone does something bad, and everyone scrambles to get in line to diminish the person’s values system while artificially inflating their own.

    Most of us possess at least decent core values, and we try our best to hold true to them. But we’re not immune from frequent screw-ups. That doesn’t automatically make us rotten to the core, it just means we’re humans and we are not infallible.

    So keep your values judgments to yourself, or least take a quick glance in the mirror before you publicly pass judgment on others who commit the sin of being imperfect.