Teaching the Children
It is Your Legacy

In the previous email, I wrote about Ti Ti and her effect on me. Due to a serendipitous moment in time, Moh Moh, my tour guide Myanmar, had to stop and pick up my itinerary after I left the area Inle Lake. She could have given it to me another day. It didn’t have to be that particular day. Additionally, Ti Ti, her nine year old daughter, might not have been home on either day. Nonetheless, it was a huge game changer for that family and for me. It radically changed all our lives. Fortunately, Ti Ti was home on winter break. That chance meeting and playing Scrabble with Ti Ti that day had a most profound emotional effect upon me.

Interestingly, there were two previous game changers in my life, which were not initially positive changes.

My father worked in an insurance company in Philadelphia after returning from WWII. He worked hard and was dedicated to his job. As a result, he was promoted to a vice president, which might he had to move to the corporate office in Pittsburgh. So, my family moved from Pennsauken, NJ to Mt. Lebanon, PA.

At that time, I was getting ready to enter sixth grade. I was an above average student in a nice school system and a pleasant middleclass town. However, my father wanted to make sure his children would get a good education as they prepared for going off to college. As a result, we moved to Mt. Lebanon, which was ranked the 19th best school system in America. The town was also the wealthiest community in Western Pennsylvania.

My dad sacrificed a great deal for his children. However, it wasn’t what I was used to back in Pennsauken. I lived in a Mt. Lebanon bubble. In that wealthy community and extremely excellent school system, I learned two things: I was dumb and poor. It took me several decades to realize that in the real world I was neither. In fact, the feeling of inadequate intellectually and financially motivated me work harder. Consequentially, what was seen as a curse turned out to be a blessing.

The other curse was that I danced with death twice in 2008. I had prostate cancer that had metastasized outside the prostate. In that same year, I fell off a ladder and had a subdural hematoma or a traumatic brain injury.

Nevertheless, I recovered from both medical issues, and they both turned out to be blessings. Dancing with death caused me to be even more motivated. I know firsthand that my clock is ticking, and I am fully aware of my mortality. That is one of my driving forces within me. My mortality made me face my legacy after I go belly-up. What society might say about me isn’t relevant. However, what is critically important is how well I have taught my children and grandchildren here in the States and in Myanmar. These are my three granddaughters in Myanmar.

Teach Your Children by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young is a warming to all of us.

Teach Your Children.

You who are on the road
Must have a code that you can live by
And so become yourself
Because the past is just a good-bye.
Teach your children well,
Their father's hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picks, the one you'll know by.
Don't you ever ask them why, if they told you, you will cry,
So just look at them and sigh
And know they love you.
And you, of tender years,
Can't know the fears that your elders grew by,
And so please help them with your youth,
They seek the truth before they can die.

Teach your...

Teach your parents well,
Their children's hell will slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picks, the one you'll know by.

Don't you ever ask them why, if they told you, you will cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.

That song is a musical threat. Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young are passionately pushing their listeners not only to teach their children but to teach them well. From infancy, newborns watch and observe their parents. James Baldwin said, “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”

Therefore, the question isn’t really whether we should teach our children; we are already teaching them now. The haunting and critically vital question is what we are teaching them?

Trump is an example. His father, Fred Trump was a Ku Klux Klan supporter in the 20s. In fact, in 1927, he was arrested at a Klan gathering in New York City. This is what our fake president learned from his father.

We need to not only to teach are children, but, of equal importance, we need to expand our family. I have a family in Myanmar. They are a part of what I call my family. Therefore, we need to be more inclusive of who makes up our family, and we need to be careful about what we teach them. Choose wisely.

Teach your children well

It is all about loving your children, when you do so, you teach them to love others throughout the world. When I was in high school, we had to memorize a hundred lines of poetry or prose each semester. The Bridge Builder by Will Allen Dromgoole was one of my choices.

The Bridge Builder

An old man going a lone highway
Came at the evening, cold and gray,
To a chasm, vast, and deep and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The sullen stream had no fear for him;
But he turned, when safe on the other side,
And built a bridge to span the tide.

"Old man," said a fellow pilgrim, near,
"You are wasting strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again will pass this way;
You've crossed the chasm, deep and wide-
Why build you this bridge at the evening tide?"
The builder lifted his old gray head:
"Good friend, in the path I have come," he said,
"There followeth after me today,
A youth, whose feet must pass this way.

This chasm, that has been naught to me,
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.

He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him."