Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Good Old Mom and Dad and Us

Even if Mom and Dad were shitty parents--the 20th Century Great Excuse for a self-limited life--get over it. You still have the need and obligation to get your life together and become a decent human being.

In all probability, Mom and Dad were probably not that bad in the first place; it's just that we too often remember only their mistakes. Shakespeare said, "The evil that men do live after them; the good is oft interred with the bones." So it probably is with our memories of our parents. (2) On top of which, even if our memories were precise (they were horrible and they did screw up our childhoods), remember most of them were in their twenties when they gave birth to you. How bright were you at their age?; (3) Almost all their mistakes were most likely unintentional. They didn't start every day thinking: 'How can I fail my kids today?'; (4) Have you done any better now (or, will your kids only remember your mistakes and not your successes. "What goes round, comes round." (5) And finally, no matter how disappointing they may have been as parents, we were probably as disappointing to them as children: do you think we are what they had in mind when they gave us birth?

Family disappointments and expectations are a two-way street. Maybe if we forgive our parents for not living up to our expectations as parents, perhaps they'll forgive us for being less than ideal as progeny.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Of Baby-Boomers, Protest and the Tea Party

Why are today's young liberals and progressives so surprised that the Tea Party is filled with baby-boomers? Baby-boomers were born to protest; they were raised in the era of protest.

As youths, they protested segregation. They protested the Viet Nam War. They protested bras. They protested for against male exclusivity; for women's and gay rights. Why should they change now?

Protest is the nature of baby-boomers.

The Tea Party is just a re-affirmation of their youthful protest. Their goals may have changed, but the love of protest has remained.


From my acting blog, "Cliff Osmond on Acting" (I felt it was worth repeating here):

The student told me he was having trouble playing a father. He said he has never been a father, doubts he ever will become one...and in general finds emotionally identifying with fathers difficult.

But he was now of the age when he was going to be offered father-parts to play. What to do?

I told him we should try to find a common denominator: Is there a universal emotional element in fatherhood that fathers and non-fathers (like him and maybe half the audience) can warm to? What does being a father mean? Is there a synonym for "fatherhood," I asked?

After an unresponsive, silent pause: "Responsibility," I offered. "Once that child's life enters the world, you are responsible...for it's food, it's emotional contentment and and spiritual nourishment." I asked the student if he ever felt responsible for something? "Of course," he said.

Well, I said, with a new-born child that responsibility never ends. "Jesus, Dad, enough already. Stop with the advice!"

"Never. At any age. Not until you are totally happy. Is your life perfect? Well, as long as the answer is no, I'm going to be in your life. As a father, I am responsible."

Irrational? Yes. Maddening? Yes. Inevitable? I hope so.

Love...paternal, maternal, spousal, or filial...is responsibility towards an other's existence. You are charged with being tethered to the other's life, to their needs, wants, desires and yearnings. Your life is no longer defined by just your life, but by theirs as well. (That's why you have every right to tell them what to do!) Your happiness is their happiness; and visa-versa. You will die, for them, with them, because of them...or you would kill for them. You no longer have an independent existence. You are they; they are you.

Responsibility. Love. Fatherhood. Endless. Eternal. Maybe that's what rigor mortis is: the dead body still trying to fulfill it's responsibility toward its children. Nothing more ecstatic. And exhausting. Fatherhood, along with motherhood: it makes the world, and the species, go round and round.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Dangerous Class

The dangerous class: young men; captives of their own Darwinian testosterone. Look around the world: see the graphics of riot, protesters and disruption. Young men are everywhere, clashing in Haiti, Gaza, London, Mexico City, interfering and running riot with rules and public order. Their cause is irrelevant; their craziness is unavoidable.

Marriage and family was the age-old corrective. The Mormons had/have it right; marry young men off early, in their teens if possible; get them quickly into family responsibilities. After a full week of work, family nights and weekend Little League coaching, they will be too tired to cause any further chaos.

Modern Americans: beware of undermining the bonds of matrimony and family life. Electronic war games, action movies and pro football may not be distraction enough. Eventually, a critical mass of violence-prone young men on the loose may be the unintended consequence of weakening the bonds of matrimony. (I wonder what percentage of day-traders and derivative creators were married; and if so, how many children they had?)

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Truth and Lies; and the Allure of the Latter

Human truth is harsh. It is thrust upon us. Self-recognition is a necessary evil forced on us by the failure of our illusions.

What would you rather have: the bumpy road of human truth, or the smooth highway of successful self-deception?

Kill the messenger, indeed. Less he goes off and discovers (and reports) of even more tragic circumstances.

All I ask of the lie is that someone (including myself) lie to me well; what I ask of the truth is distance...unless I absolutely require its factual presence.

The truth I am avoiding is: we are doomed to finitude. The illusion I desire is: we can live forever (graced with the goodness of God or the wonder of molecular re-incarnation.)

Do I believe in God? No. Do I believe in re-incarnation? No. But, oh boy oh boy, do I believe in believing...desperately, fervently, dare I say, spiritually and religiously. Life's truths are too heavy to bear.

"Our Father, who art in heaven..."