I’ve been reflecting on what makes all the effort I go to – learning things, collecting experiences, talking to people, thinking and thinking and thinking, as I do – worthwhile.
Kids never listen to what their parents tell them. As the song says, it’s their life not yours. Sure, you’ve learned some lessons – but they’re lessons for YOU. Our truths are not their truths.
And yet. What’s the point of having 54 (and counting) years of experience under my belt if I have nothing worthwhile to say about it? Isn’t there ANYTHING I can tell my kids about life, that will give them something of a leg-up in this game?
I think maybe there are a few things. So here goes. The First Thing.
I remember back when I got seriously riled up. I got riled up about homosexuals (disgusting!), people who weren’t willing to die for their beliefs (cowards), religious people (criminally insane), and my parents (boring reactionary old farts with no idea how to live!). I was a very intense 16 year old.
But add thirty plus years, and I sit on the fence a lot more than I used to. On the one hand…and on the other hand…I may be wrong, they may be right. Of course, like everyone, I still think I AM right – the difference is, now, I don’t KNOW I’m right.
That’s what comes of thirty years of trying to see things from other people’s point of view. Thirty years of listening. Thirty years of saying sorry, maybe I got it wrong. Thirty years of coming to believe that the personal is always more important than the political – that decisions which are made for ‘the people’, ‘on principle’, ‘for the greater good’ and so on, ultimately rebound on A Person. Maybe even you. Or your kid. So think carefully before you come out with statements like ‘All Moslems should be deported’, and ‘This war is worth fighting.’ Yes you can remind me I said that, next time I mention that someone should blow up Barnaby Joyce.
Thirty years of having to about-face (did I really hate gay people?), finding myself doing the very thing I said was unthinkable years before (adultery, abortion), becoming close to people who live and think and believe so differently from me I pretty much need google translate to make small talk – taught me something. I’m not always right. In life, most things are not True or False. People who do bad things are not always bad people. Your opinions will change over time, and if they never do, you’ve learnt nothing from living.
So go easy with your opinions, my children. Tread softly on the moral high ground. Yeah, there are a few things worth getting riled about, and some principles worth having. But don’t carve your rules – your Shoulds and Should Nots and Should Nevers – in wet concrete and then stand in them. Save your indignation for a few things that really matter (like when your burger’s not cooked properly) – don’t spread it around everywhere like shit in a vege garden. The louder you talk, the harder it is to hear. If you don’t change your mind about something at least once a week, you’re ossifying, and you don’t want to do that at your age, do you, my lovely ones.