Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Wisdom of our Fathers

It has been said "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" (Santayana).  The same could be said about the wisdom learned and accepted from one generation to the next.

When I was a little girl, I hung on every word my parents said.  In my child-like mind, they knew absolute truth.  I never questioned them.  I had complete faith in their decisions.  There were many times that I didn't like what they had to say, but I never questioned that it was right.

As I grew, my parents continued to speak truth into my life.  When I would come home from school, crushed from some bully's unkind remarks, my mother would gently console me - then she would teach me how to discern the real nature of the hurtful remarks and how to respond to the bully in the future.  She was always right.

The older I became, the more wisdom my parents poured into me.  They taught me, through their years of accumulated experience and searching for the truth, how to view the world.  They taught me right from wrong, good from bad and how to see through a facade of deception to grasp the truth.

And then I grew up.  Suddenly, as a young woman  making my own way in the world, I knew more than my parents did.  My once wise parents became back-woods bumpkins, knowing nothing about the modern world.  They didn't understand this new, modern world into which I had stepped.  My conversations with my parents, although still frequent, became disrespectful and condescending.  When they would express doubt about my chosen path, I would spurn their concerns, knowing that they just didn't understand "my generation".   In my youthful arrogance, I was convinced that the world had changed, and my parents knew nothing of the world in which I lived.

As worldly wise as I was, I was too foolish to realize that the problems of the world never change.  They appear different, but the root is always the same.  True wisdom transcends the ages.  Only the foolish believe that their experience in the world is new.

By the grace of God, my prideful, disrespectful attitude was quickly humbled by failure.  And, also by the grace of God, my parents bore my arrogant pride with long-suffering and unconditional love.  To this day, because of the wretched embarrassment it would cause me, they never mention my foray into omniscience.  Through the love of my parents and the grace of Almighty God, I learned, once again, to trust the wisdom of my parents.  Not only my parents, but my grandparents, my aunts and uncles and all of those who have walked before me.

I learned, from being prideful and arrogant, that I knew nothing.  I learned that, although not perfect, my elders knew more about life than I did.  I learned that I had so much to learn.

So, what, other than being a charming little anecdote, does this story have to do with the price of tea in China?   It has to do with looking to our past to determine our future.

We live in a society that has forgotten the wisdom of our fathers.  We behave like spoiled, prideful children, spurning our parents advice.  We are certain that our fore-bearers, who, incidentally, managed to build the most successful country in the world, were nothing more than back-woods bumpkins.  Systematically, we are dismantling what our fathers built and are replacing it with politically correct, pseudo-intellectual facades doomed to crumble under the pressure of reality.  Our prideful arrogance will fail us.

Our fathers knew things that we have forgotten.  Right is right and wrong is wrong.  Life is hard, but the the hardships temper us, making us stronger.  Circumstances don't make the person, rather the person defines the circumstances.  Life isn't safe.  Hard work isn't something to be avoided, it gives us purpose.  Life is bigger than just me.  One of our greatest gifts is our right to live how we choose - we give that up when we allow someone else to be responsible for our lives.

It is time for us to regain the wisdom passed on to us by our forefathers.  Our rebellion has brought us nothing but weakness and failure and unhappiness.  We need to reclaim our history, learn from our mistakes.  Only when we remember the wisdom of the past will we have a straight path for the future.


  1. Very well said. I hope the growing pains don't get much worse, but I know from the looks of things we've got more pain comin'. We are ready as I pray for recovery.

  2. I think you're right, most people indeed, should listen to their parents.

    And then you meet mine. They speak as though they have profound knowledge about every subject under the sun. Whether it's dispensing medical advice (which, when double checked, is the exact OPPOSITE of what should be done and will only exacerbate whatever it is that's going on with me) to telling me I should apply for welfare "benefits" because I qualify for them (I don't and don't need it in any case) to even telling me that insulating the walls of my house will cost $3000. I said no way, I'm guessing $700 - $1000. My dad laughed at me and told me my information was wrong. Total cost? $800.

    My parents have tried my whole life to tell me everything I do I can't, and as a result back when I still believed them I felt horrible about myself and lost out on opportunities to follow my dreams. I think I had been out of the house almost 10 years when I realized I should question EVERYTHING they tell me. How do you know that, I say. What's your source? Do you have personal experience with it? Why can't I? If you can't back it up, don't say it. Stop trying to make me doubt myself just because you don't believe in me.

    There's still anger there, but not the way there was. They don't do this to my brother or sister, just me.

    I did learn some things growing up - like not to be afraid of living in the woods w/o water or electricity, and that being in the middle of the woods can be fun. Home grown veggies/eggs/cattle taste better. I learned about a lifestyle outside of the standard "keeping up with the Jonses". And for that I will be ever thankful.

    The rest of it I have trouble reconciling with the 4th commandment. I fight everything and everyone as a result of the way I was raised, can't hold a relationship because my levels of trust in people are so low.

    I'm not saying this because I think you're wrong. I'm saying this because I think you are absolutely right. I only wish I had reaped the benefits of parents like yours. Maybe this response is a form of therapy for me, although I have been able to write it without an emotional flare-up.

    But for you, you know everyone goes through the "my parent's don't know anything stage" - I think they get sucked into their own lives and friends and there's a general feeling of not needing one's parents anymore. It's just a part of growing up. Look at it this way, if you hadn't shucked parental wisdom for a while, you would never have realized how much you need them and how wise they are! Don't be too embarrassed, just look at it as personal growth.

    On the plus side, you can pass your parents' wisdom on to people like me, who would not have had the benefit otherwise.

  3. As a child,I used to wonder why my parents would react to a situation in the way they did-and,later on, when it happened to me, it became really obvious why.
    Technology changes,but people and experiences don't(well, if we get on-demand genetic engineeering/modification people might's closer than you might think)-only the circumstances in which they occur.
    Most of my family never entered the Rat Race-never got near the track,and lived very rural lifestyles. it never seemed to hurt them any..

  4. Enola, you are a gem. Couldn't agree with you more.

    NoCal Gal

    P.S. Merry Christmas to Enola and family, and to all her readers.

  5. Now that I've lost both parents, and am clinging to the last remaining elders in my family (two 92-year old aunts), I am aware more than ever, how much I owe them. They've taught me how to be grateful for what I have, instead of yearning for what I want; they've shown me that walking humbly with my Lord is the key to happiness and success in this life. They ALL had harder childhoods than I did, yet I never heard them complain. They survived the Depression, deaths of children, homes that burned to the ground, and hurts and psychological damage that they never used as excuses. I have always been proud of my heritage and I pray that those who come after me have inherited the backbone and faith that brought us here. God Bless and Merry Christmas to everyone!