Of course you don’t know any great men. Mostly it’s nice men that we know, and then we get sloppy with the language. Or honest men, or even, rarely, honorable men. But great? Please. We invest the magnitude of our emotion into our judgment. Emotion is only part of judgment; objectivity must have its place as well.
I say this because I just heard someone say that his father was a great man. He is to be forgiven. It’s one of those relative things, heh, where imprecision of diction is as honest a way of communicating as any. Like saying your wife is the most beautiful woman in the world. Well, yes -- she is. Opinion is not fact, and it can change as a function of self-protection in an instant, and honestly. Sample A tastes better, yes, it is my firm opinion that sample B tastes better. Why not exploit this convenient malleability to conform to real world needs.
My father, my father is biglongway to one side of the continuum of judgments about fathers. Not violent, but violently emotional. Not bad, but as selfish as duty would allow him to be. Thank God for duty -- what family would survive without it. What, love is supposed to hold things together? What a religious idea you have. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth -- and in the beginning was the Word, and that was the love that held the world together. Then there was sin, and the world fell apart, or started to and continues to this day, via entropy, and what of love then? Love, in the form I expect of the presiding Holy Spirit, fled the universe, and enters only here and there, or lays like a film upon a pond, as surface tension, but penetrates only as a perturbation. Only duty holds the universe together, until that great day in the by and by.
Selfish I say, in his narscissism. Is it proper for sons to judge their fathers? No it isn’t. The Commandment about honoring your parents comes with a blessing -- memory suggests it’s the only one that does. So it seems that honoring and being honest are in conflict. But no, it’s more of a gravity/aerodynamics thing, two laws, not in conflict, no opposed, simply applying in different conditions. My father could be trusted to be critical, judgmental, harsh and blind -- betraying, frankly -- and then he’d forget about it, and wonder why people acted hurt, and judge them for that. Sexually profligate, as a function of his egotism. Imagine how sneaky you have to be, to be sexually betraying. No baby, I’m not cheating on you, I love you baby, I love you. To utter it soils the soul. Sex isn’t dirty, it’s the lying that makes it so. Lie with dogs, wake up with crabs.
My mother is also a sneaky liar, completely untrustworthy, but her compulsion is not ego driven but from weakness, her own, aimed at protecting weak things through sneakiness rather than confrontation. She basically stole all of her husband’s particular savings and gave it away to my brother’s family. Toward the end, in his near dementia,he’d have some vague awarenesss of what was going on and get all upset and want to drive somewhere and confront someone, and I couldn’t lie to him but I had no details and he was too vague about the problem for me to be honest and there was no where to drive him to, so ask me about futility and I’ll have a few words to say. Where's all my money? It soils my soul.
Now I’m the one who will be picking up the slack, the shortfall, the lack of savings and the profligate toilet-flush waste, taking care of her financial needs as best I can until she dies, if she dies first. I expect no inheritance, so it’s a balancing act between saving for my own old age and making sure she currently has enough spare cash to pay the phone bill and to buy chew toys for her many untrained dogs, etc.
It is my son’s birthday today. He is a great man.