Friday, January 28, 2011

My Father's Voice

Tonight we had dinner with friends and I found myself saying negative things about the teacher's union, supporting smaller government, questioning the state-owned liquor stores here, and so on. After awhile Tom just looked at me, shook his head in wonder, and said I was repeating my father's old tapes. And he was right. My father considered himself an independent though he was really more a libertarian. And he had very persistent tapes about the teacher's union and smaller government.

At the time I said those things I thought they were my opinions, at least my opinions of the moment. But when Tom pointed out that I was repeating my father's words, I wondered if perhaps I was just trying on those opinions like trying on new clothes. How do these words sound to me? What kind of reaction do I get from others? Do I really think this?

Why now at 57 would I be saying things that only a few years ago I would argue against? I know Churchill's saying: Anyone who is not a liberal when young has no heart and anyone who is not a conservative when old has no brain - or something like that. And I have watched myself become more conservative with time - not just with politics but also with personal choices and preferences.

I just read about a 92 year old woman who still runs marathons. She said she relished the challenge -- and she looked at least 20 years younger than her age. Perhaps I can use her image as a prompt to curb my conservative tendencies. The challenge for me over the next ten years is to balance my cautiousness with some risk, and to listen carefully - if my father is speaking through me, I need to head the message and change the subject.

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