I want to say something about my family. We are not perfect, by any means. We aren’t rich or community leaders or above common varieties of complaint and discontent. My mother has been the bread winner my entire life which flies in the face of almost every traditional notion of what a family should be. My mother has been the bread winner longer than I can remember, longer, actually, than I have been alive. She got a PhD from an ivy league university during a time in this nation’s history when women got laughed out of the laboratory on a regular basis (she got her PhD in Molecular Biology from Northwestern University studying the effects of folate on cell structure, an idea that is gaining increasing relevance to the study of cancer causality to this day). But you know what i believe? I believe she is stronger for it. My mom is one of the hardest working people I know. She is the most honest person I know. You cannot find a more honest person on this planet than she is. Yet, she has many faults, but not a single one of those will ever prevent me from trying to live my life as honorably and determinedly as shes has.
So lets talk about my father. He is not what you would call a go getter, he doesn’t derive his happiness from the money he has made or the things he owns. Instead, from what I’ve seen. He derives his satisfaction from being kind to other people, regardless of the cirumstances. He is always thankful, he always, always, always gives people the benefit of the doubt, and he has an incorruptible faith in the basic decency of others that I may never be able to achieve.
If you are still reading, if you have not yet condemned me for being anecdotal, selfish, provincial in my interpretation of the world, then I admire you. Everything above this paragraph sounds chalk full of self congratulation, adulation, exclusionary analysis. But I submit to you, right now, that I understand that, yet, I don’t know any better. By that I mean this: I am limited by what I have experienced, I literally cannot make a judgment, cannot suggest a frame of understanding, cannot even begin to assume that I know what you have gone through better than you.
It may be that you have evidence which completely destroys everything I’ve just said. If so, that makes me happy because the very fact that your evidence exists gives me hope that this world isn’t going to be consumed by selfish and self-congratulatory pursuit of profit and glory. Even more in fact, I want you to prove me wrong, I would absolutely, unquestionably, love to hear somebody completely shatter the myth that my father and mother are the best examples I have to live my life.
Until that time however, I will continue to treat my parents as icons, as people totally divorced from the notion that the measure of a human being is their bank account, that the summation of a person is the amount of things and ‘stuff’ theyve managed to accumulate throughout their lives.
To every person out there that will deny this mythology to me, I’d love to hear your story, because I want to read it, because i want to be inspired, because I want to believe that this little blip on the chart of all the species who have ruled this earth at one time or another will not allow itself to fall victim to its own weaknesses.