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A Grade from the Harshest Teacher?

November 25, 2012

Well, just in time to round out the Thanksgiving Weekend… here’s a shot from Hot Air, pointing to Walter Russel Mead’s blog, and a fine e-mail that should wake all of us up screaming tonight.  I almost hope this is apochryphal, but I somehow get a nice giggle when I read it.

It is obvious that none of you has the faintest notion of the bitter disappointment each of you has in your own way dished out to us. We are seeing the miserable death throes of the fourth of your collective marriages at the same time we see the advent of a fifth.

We are constantly regaled with chapter and verse of the happy, successful lives of the families of our friends and relatives and being asked of news of our own children and grandchildren. I wonder if you realise how we feel — we have nothing to say which reflects any credit on you or us. We don’t ask for your sympathy or understanding — Mum and I have been used to taking our own misfortunes on the chin, and making our own effort to bash our little paths through life without being a burden to others. Having done our best — probably misguidedly — to provide for our children, we naturally hoped to see them in turn take up their own banners and provide happy and stable homes for their own children.

I mean, really, how many of us — even those of us without children — wouldn’t love to drop an e-mail like this on someone right about now?  All too often, we try our best to soft-coat a bad decision by someone we know, and then we tisk as that person follows the path we knew they would.  Heck, there are a few times in my life I needed a kick in the pants similar to this.

One case… I remember when we moved to Oregon, we went house shopping on our own, and found a ready-to-build opportunity that we thought was great.  I enlisted the help of a brother who I thought would give us straight advice… and he punted by pointing out a few things that could be wrong but decided to let us make the decision.  Later, we met a realtor who told us that we were making a bad decision, and then showed us a few houses that made that clear.   It cost us a bit to get out of the housing contract, but nothing like it would have cost us to stay in.

Fast forward a few years, and I found myself in the path of an advisor to a friend who was looking for houses, and about to make the same mistake as I almost did.  The lovely wife and I sat him down and plainly stated that what he was thinking wasn’t clear, and we’d worried that we lost a friend… until he later thanked us for being the voice of reason when everyone else wanted to tell him that he was making a great decision.

I’d bet my erstwhile parther in this blog could point to a few times when I’ve been a bit too plain-spoken in my opinions, and I thank her and the lovely wife (and a few others) for reminding me that I’m human.  I hope someone in your life cares enough to do that to you.

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