On boomers, my father and my big mouth (a personal take)
by gustavoNYC, Tue May 27, 2008 at 03:28:05 PM EDT
I'm a 38 old hispanic permanent resident. Born and raised in Mexico. I have lived in the US for the last 10 years.
Reading this diary struck a chord inside me.
See, it's not that I have personally experience many of the slights the diarist chronicles. It had to do with something closer and more personal: my relationship with my father.
My dad is Mexican and still lives down there (like all my extended family). He is 64 (Yours sincerely wasting away), a retired surgeon, a dazzling personality, very well read, fierce debater, life-long militant leftist, pacifist, implacable critic of the powers that be, stubborn and proud as hell and the most amazing father I could have been raised by (I'm biased here). He also had a cuadruple bypass five years ago and has Step I congestive heart failure.
As you can probably tell, I absoultely adore the guy.
The thing is, that for reasons I don't necessarily understand, we've significantly drifted apart: I've spent the last ten years living in New York City (the economic capital of the capitalistic world) working for an American Investment Bank no less! I was also raised as an evangelical by my mother, unlike my father who is an avowed atheist... You get the picture.
The fact is that although deep down I agree with many of my father's ideas and positions (and I often will fiercely defend those very ideas when debating others), my conversations with my father nowadays almost always end in heated discussions if not outright verbal cat fights. I partly blame the fact that my father's personal brand of debating often seems to include minor of major infractions ranging from asking you to answer questions that you can hardly answer in a different way he expects you to answer and that will amount to your uttering part of his argument, to veiled ad hominem attacks from which he will promptly back down and claim innocence if called on them. The other problem is that he tends to take his ideas to ridiculuous extremes, which makes it very hard for me to agree with them.
Well, last Friday I crossed a line and I'm feeling horrible about it: We were having one of our usual heated arguments (which all seem to be variations of the same argument). He had a valid point, but as he often does was stretching it beyond the limits of defensibility and while doing so was attacking everyone and anyone who would see things differently, from the self appointed of holder of the superior ethical ground. It got to the point where I exploded and called him on it. On a personal level. I told him that he was engaging in the same sort of phariseic manichean shit than those he was criticizing and that (since he made Bill Gates one of his broad targets), by the way Bill Gates was doing for the poor several billion times more than he ever had or ever will. I asked him how much money he had personally given to help the poor and essentially told him that he is spending his days doing stuff that makes him feel good but amounts to very little.
I swear I have never seen him so angry before. I know I struck a very sensitive note in him: the trascendence of his life or actions in this world (he was forced to retire from active surgical duty in his mid 40s and feels deeply offended when someone seems to suggest he's not doing anything of significance).
The irony is that, for all his faults and quirks, there are very few people in this world that I admire more than my father (can't think of anyone off the top of my head). I often find myself talking like him or, as I said before, making his points when talking to other people (I just hope I can do it in a more measured way and I remain open minded even as I age).
Bottom line: I feel like shit. I wish I could take back what I said and I'm desperately trying to find a way I can make it up to him and let him know how much I love and respect him... Any suggestions?