My father provided my first glimpses into humanity. Most of the lessons were hard, and differ significantly in their delivery from what most would consider appropriate, but they stuck. Here are a few of the things I learned:
- A person can do wholly terrible, unspeakable things to another person and yet not be wholly bad. They can make choices that can negatively impact another individual for life and yet still have many redeeming qualities.
- A child will love her parent, no matter how badly he hurts her. And she does not have to understand it or apologize for it or feel guilty about it.
- Causing someone harm, even repeated harm, does not necessarily mean that you do not love them. It might mean you do not know how to love them the way they need to be loved.
- No man lives in a vacuum. A person's actions ALWAYS have in impact on others, oftentimes in ways he would never anticipate. And the impact often reaches beyond the initial point of contact.
- An apology is neither an eraser nor a pain reliever. The past cannot be changed, and saying "I'm sorry" cannot mend a broken heart.
- A boy will learn what he lives. Conversely, he will not learn something if it is never taught to him.
- A human need not be treated humanely in order to learn to treat others so.
- A person who feels out of control might try to regain control by controlling those around him. And the people he tries to control might choose to submit. For awhile.
- With enough hard work, a person can rise above his circumstances. A person can change, but is more likely to do so when the costs begin to outweigh the benefits of his ways.
- It is possible to forgive even the most heinous acts. And forgiveness does not have to resemble love or devotion or affection. It doesn't even have to resemble respect. It is what it is.
- Forgetting is harder than forgiving. Since it is virtually impossible for most people to forget traumatic events, perhaps the forgetting need be more about our own anger and hatred than the event itself.
- Forgiving and forgetting is for the victim, not for the perpetrator.
I was always a good student. My father expected that of me. I pray that I will make the most of these lessons.