Monday, February 18, 2008


I was unfortunate to dream of my dead father the other evening; it would have been his 80th birthday today had he been alive. In my dream we were arguing as per usual and he was not listening to what I was saying to him despite my pleading with him. I spoke to my mother over the phone today as I called to enquire after her health and I told her that the old bugger was still as argumentative as ever, she laughed as she probably remember the sometimes volatile [on his part] relationship we used to have.
I did remark about my father in a discussion I was having with my step-daughter this weekend, on one of the rare days we sat down and discuss world and UK domestic issues [as an aside and because I want a moan, we managed to do this without her getting frustrated at not being able to hold her own in a debate.]
I made the remark about him concerning how people are bought up and what bearing religion can have on children if it is taught to them and shown as an example of how one should behave to ones neighbour and fellow man.
I then began to think of the legacy my father had gave us, or at least the one of the view good ones from my perspective, that still holds firm today, and that is what is the true value and meaning of right from wrong. This wisdom came from a man who, I have since found out, was more of a rogue than I had ever given him credit for. We were never bought up to follow his religion to the letter, he did believe in God [Catholic], which I have not for as long as I can remember.
I do however have some respect for some of the values taught within religion and I have often thought that the teaching of all the religions could have certain values extracted to be taught to make us better protectors of the planet and of each other. If a body of knowledgeable people, not religious leaders, could bring together these values into one coherent code of conduct.
These new codes would be the only ones taught in schools, effectively removing the need for faith schools, and they could be encouraged within the home environment by standardised booklets and leaflets or through television all encouraging a better world for everyone, wherever you reside in the world.
This would not abolish religion, it could still exist in the only place it should, and that is the temples, churches, mosques and synagogues built for the purpose.
My father died a drawn out death due to cancer and not once did he ask if he had been a good father or if he had done right by us all. I have three siblings, two elder brothers and a sister, two of which had a completely different relationship with him than I did, probably accumulating in admiration for him.
Apart from asking me to reconcile with my ex wife whom I had divorced and been separated from for eight years at that point in time, never once asked me to forgive him, congratulate him or even consider the legacy he may have left us all. He was not happy to meet his maker as early as he did but he must have wondered about his legacy or how we felt towards him as we each in turn came to see him in his sick bed. I cannot speak for the other three, but I have a fair idea that they probably feel similarly to the effect that we are all honest,[too honest at times on my part], caring and considerate towards others.
I know I have not always been able to show it but I defy anyone to declare I have not at least loved them and cared for them whilst I have been in their company and companionship; yet here I am now wondering what my legacy will be when my times comes.
I believe that if I was to find out I had three months to live it would be too late to worry about my legacy, it is what it is and I could change nothing in three months.
I also believe that when a politician begins to worry about his lasting legacy just before his tenure is up then he either has too much to hide or he realises that the only legacy he or she will be remembered for is the one they wish to forget; which is why Tony Blair sought to be interviewed before and after he stepped down as PM to remind people of all the other “good” things he achieved and despite Iraq being a mess history would vindicate him. Let history be my judge is a phrase used by both Blair and Bush, more recently in an interview by George Bush, who followed this up with a tour of Africa to remind people of the only one good work he ever did whilst in the Oval Office and that was the aid towards helping combat and educate [albeit through religious organisations] people in the fight against aids and HIV.
History will indeed be their judge and we will not have to wait too long to see that they should both be wondering if a better legacy would have been to come clean to the people they represented and say, ‘Look, we got it wrong, we got it all horribly wrong for all the wrong reasons, or at least not for the reasons given to the public, which by the way we changed when ever it suite, we are sorry’.
At the last I kissed his forehead and said I was sorry, and I truly was sorry that we never got to know one another. He died several hours later and I was the last of his children to see him alive.
It has taken this long for me to realise that another part of his legacy, like it or not, is me.


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