Today is my dad’s birthday. He would have been 70.
My father was not a perfect man. He was not a good husband. He thought, like many men, that if he provided for his family, that was the best he could do. As a result, he missed many school events, family events and ruined his health.
But I am not here to talk about the things my father did wrong in his life. I know he realized a lot of this towards the end of his life.
I am here to talk about he taught me.
He taught me three things that I hope to teach my own children.
ONE: Don’t be a poodle.
This means, don’t let people run over you. Don’t let people take advantage of you.
Two: Don’t be a Sheep.
This means: don’t follow the crowd. Sheep are stupid and believe anything anybody halfway reputable tells them. If you want to have a strong belief about something, think it through as completely as possible from as many angles as you can.
My dad would have a field day with Fox and MSNBC…
Three: Don’t take any wooden nickles.
This means: figure out what motivates someone else when they want to help you or give you something for free. If someone is telling you the sky is blue and you know that it’s raining outside, think about why they are interested in you believing their story.
Because of my father’s influence, I am a major skeptic. Moo gets frustrated with me because I can be rather stubborn and sometimes have to be shown things to have them proven to me.
But at the same time, if someone debates me about something, they better be ready to hit me with some facts. And those facts had better be good and reputable. I am good at this because if my dad heard me say something about what I thought or believed, I had to justify my thinking – even if he agreed with me. If I couldn’t support my thinking, I would be given homework to find 3 pros and cons to my premise and I had better be prepared to defend it.
Because of this, I carefully examine my thoughts. I carefully examine my beliefs. And I have facts to support what I say. And as my dad could and would punch holes in theories, I have to keep my thinking in line with previous beliefs.
And for everyone who gets frustrated with me when I won’t change sides on something – you can blame my dad. He was the 2nd most stubborn man to walk this planet. Only his dad – who did the same thing to HIS children – can be classified as more stubborn.
Daddy, I miss arguing with you so much.