Elaborating further on my latest post
Was my praise of my father fulsome? A Falstaff and all that.
Enumerating such things (as James Joyce did in the case of his own father), I would say that I got from my father:
– good nature towards all and sundry
– a sense of humor
Regarding personal flaws, mine and everyone else’s:
I don’t choose friends or intimate acquaintances (to the extent one chooses one’s spouse, significant others, and closest friends) based on a checklist.
If I see good in someone, humanity, sincerity, etc., that is enough for me. There may be egregious failings as well.
I greatly value the friendships I have formed with intellectuals and deep thinkers. I do not, however, look down per se on people less well read or educated than me. This is not just out of kindness of indulgence on my part. There are all sorts of wisdom and intelligence that one can profit from. And, character means a lot to me. Plus – as an afterthought – I have observed wit and insight in persons who don’t necessarily read a lot. This is something my father, who was entitled to pride himself on his education, was very capable of.
I have tended for most of my life to be very self-critical. I am more able now to live with myself when I do something “wrong” out of heedlessness or resulting from willful misbehavior. But I don’t just forgive myself or give myself a pass. I have not changed in that respect.
Regarding friends and acquaintances of mine who have been guilty of transgressions or have character flaws — or what seem to be misguided beliefs — I err far on the side of tolerance. And the same with those who have problems causing them to be castigated as deviant or abnormal.
I was greatly influenced by the Bible when I was young, how Jesus treated sinners: Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:1-2).
And Walt Whitman:
This is the meal equally set, this the meat for natural hunger,
It is for the wicked just the same as the righteous, I make appointments with all,
I will not have a single person slighted or left away,
The kept-woman, sponger, thief, are hereby invited,
The heavy-lipp’d slave is invited, the venerealee is invited;
There shall be no difference between them and the rest
— Watt Whitman, Song of Myself
— posted by Roger W. Smith