This is something I learned from my father.
My father is 75 years old. He has survived three cancers, a heart attack and kidney disease. He was a member of the conservative party when he was young (though he was swayed for a period of time by some guy named Trudeau. It wasn’t the mania that got him, it was the man. Dad is a sucker for someone who stands up to bullies, and Trudeau looked violent thugs in the eye and told them to go fuck themselves.) He was a high school principal and vice principal most of his career and at times took on the role of disciplinarian. I know he didn’t always enjoyed that role. He hated some aspects of it but understood the importance of backing up your teachers when they ran into problems in the classroom.
I have known him to emphasize the importance of not wasting your money and saving for the future more than anything else. He dislikes people that have a sense of entitlement and are ‘full of themselves”. He lost his own dad at 17. An event that caused him to repeat a year of high school. He recovered his decent grades, put himself through night classes at Concordia and earned a good living as a professional educator. He would be the first to arrive at the school and the last to leave. (Something that contributed to his heart attack at 51) He cared, worked hard and made a decent salary. Nothing was given to him. People that think teachers have it easy never met my father and their lives are worser for it.
You would think, like most men his age, he would have had a tendency to show absolute disdain for the student protestors of a year ago. Many older men I know, some of whom had it easier than my dad, many whose fathers were able to guide them into adulthood, would sneer at at the protesters. ‘Lazy’, selfish’ and ‘entitled’ were words I heard often. I don’t remember dad being quite so convinced. Don’t get me wrong, he didn’t agree with the protesters. I’ve never heard him argue that everything should be free.
He just believes education and careers should be accessible. He’s not convinced that this was the case and believes that to be the real problem. When the subject of student protest came up, he talked about how easy it was for him to get a job once he had a degree, how he just walked into a hiring office and he was hired. He knew students today don’t face the same situation. He didn’t agree much of the politics or the cause but he still saw the human problem people he disagreed with faced. He didn’t reduce himself to attacking the character of the students who were willing to protest.
Interesting, he was more influenced by the 50’s then the 60’s and 70’s. You would think that many of the men, ten to twenty years his junior, who were so willing to vilify the protestors would have a greater appreciation for protest, given the times they lived in. I guess it only mattered when it was their turn.
My father has a kindness, consideration and empathy that allows him to see people and understand life even as he approaches his eighth decade. He did not allow the many pitfalls of life to wrap him in a caccon of life sucking disdain and bitterness that skewers judgement. Some men die on the inside long before their time. Some manage to live fully every day they are with us. They still have many lessons to teach their sons. Thanks Dad.
Happy Father’s Day.