I am a disappointment to my parents

I am a disappointment to my parents

I was a disappointment to my parents, my father more specifically. This changed when I was much, much older, but it took a long time. I grew up in an isolated village just after World War II. The era was still heavy with the suffering and responsibility of the previous epoch. The war years had infused the time with a fear of the future, a fear of the unknown. The worldwide conflict had brought so many “firsts” forward: first in military aggression, first in physical destruction, and first in incomprehensible immorality, to name but a few. (1)  

The veterans that had survived this cataclysm, my father being one of them, wanted nothing but stability and peace. If they were lucky, these individuals were able to “get on” with life and create a new existence. There was a deep desire to put an end to the chaos of the previous six years. They wanted their children to live the life they had lost. It was an admirable aim. The majority of young people born before, during, and just after the war acquiesced to this desire. (2)  

But times had changed. The old values could not and would not work anymore. We needed a new vision, a more inclusive system, for humanity. The Greatest Generation (3) had fought a grand fight and had done a wonderful job of rebuilding European and Asian civilization. But, they wanted more of the same. Nations still beat the jingoistic drum. Military security was a major factor in this belief. Many baby boomers (4) rejected this worldview. They saw the pointlessness of war, competition, and unbridled capitalism. Conflict was inevitable. I was of this demographic. When I told my father I was going to study philosophy, he thought I “lacked direction.” Many parents had a similar reaction. The late 1960s and early 1970s saw protests, riots, and strife (5) — and then, somehow, this turmoil slowly dissipated.  

With the physical end to the Vietnam War in 1975, (6) the winds of social change fell silent, capitalism again reared its devouring head. A philosophy emerged: My life is just to strive to possess the most “commodities” that I can. Those that were not so aggressive, hardworking, or, perhaps, greedy were thrown by the wayside. The American Dream (7) that the men, and women, had fought for was only offered to a select few. If you failed, you were forgotten and forlorn. The result was a concomitant rise in poverty, homelessness, and incarceration. This went through the 1980s and 1990s to the beginning of the new millennium.   

With the commencement of the Internet Age, a new opportunity was presented to humanity. Our digital connectivity posed a way to integrate mankind and show how we were more alike than different. No one could have foreseen, however, the overwhelming nature of this new period. Each person could be god-like in their possession of all the knowledge (both good and bad) in the universe, but attain zero wisdom. It has produced ultimately a soulless period of consumption devoid of feeling. Contemporary young people are thus also misunderstood and failures to their parents. (8) In the end, this is the undoubted nature of all human maturity.  

A given generation must reject the values of the previous zeitgeist to move forward and develop. The current danger is that we possess too much information, not too little. Critical thinking, a belief in oneself, and an understanding of time are more important than ever. The great thinker and philosopher, Albert Einstein (1879-1955), leaves us with a thought: Never regard study as a duty but as an enviable opportunity to learn to know the liberating influence of beauty in the realm of the spirit for your own personal joy and to the profit of the community to which your later works belong. 

A closing thought: I loved my father. He was my image of “a man”: strong, hardworking, loyal to his family, and God-fearing. I was never quite able to explain to him who I was and how I saw the world. In the end, we compromised and just loved each other. Perhaps, this is the secret to the salvation of our Earth and for all humanity. If we truly learn to love each other, we will ultimately solve the problems that plague our society and develop the kind of civilization that we all desire. 

To sum up: This week, we spoke about being a disappointment to our parents and how to overcome this. 

To be noted: From the great Persian poet, Rumi (9) — Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself. 

Just for fun: Mozart: Oboenkonzert C-Dur KV 314 ∙ hr-Sinfonieorchester ∙ François Leleux ∙ Andrés Orozco-Estrada

For reflection: How Science Could Prove the Existence of God | Michio Kaku | Google Zeitgeist

This week on your reflective walk, please ponder your own relationship with your parents. 

Every day look for something magical and beautiful. 

Don’t be a wage slave – critical thinking is great! 

Quote: Learn to live your own precious life. 

Footnotes: 

1) WW2: History’s most savage and devastating war

2) Silent Generation

3) The Greatest Generation: Birth Years, Characteristics, and History

4) Baby boomers

5) Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out: Counterculture of the 1960s

6) Hearts and Minds (1974) HD – Best Vietnam War Documentary

7) American Dream

8) https://highline.huffingtonpost.com/articles/en/poor-millennials/

9) Why is Rumi the best-selling poet in the US?

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