Things Ruben Wants You To Know #1~ What My Father Taught Me

First, I shall tell you about some of the things my father taught me. Then I’ll proceed to my recommendations for you, Jacob.

My father taught me kindness and compassion, appreciation of my fellow human beings, the joys of service to others, patience, tolerance and understanding of people, even if their outlook on life, politics,
religion, nationality, race, or sexual orientation was different from mine. In addition, he impressed upon me that it is utterly self-destructive to carry a grudge. Also, I learned from him that though it is all right to dislike a person or thing, I should never hate.

I further learned, both by his teaching and by his example, consideration and charity, as well as honesty, sincerity, optimism, fairness, tidiness and many other positive things, all of which made me into an extrovert and, hopefully, a decent human being. In other words, he shaped my personality and my interpersonal relationships – plus my philosophy of life. To this day I still live by that, and I enjoy life and the many friends I have.

This is what I would like you to know: You may disagree with your friend – about politics, religion, or whatever – but you should respect him/her for his/her belief, and remain on friendly terms with your friend. You should never carry a grudge – once something is over, it’s over. Carrying a grudge or “hating” is totally
self-destructive.

Life is full of challenges; never despair, but meet those challenges head-on – remember that your glass is always half-full, not half-empty, Today’s young people are besieged by electronic instant
communication to the extent that some of them actually lose their humanity. I sincerely hope that you will not be one of these, but will use those marvelous tools wisely and with circumspection.

Stay in touch!

What I Want My Son To Know #12 ~ Stand Up And Be Counted

Having principles is a problem; whatever those principles might be. And they always sound good, until they are tested; then they are a problem. Because standing up for them, standing up because of them, doesn’t always make you a popular person. When sometime tells a racial or ethnic joke, or uses hate language “but everyone does it”, it takes courage to say “that’s not funny”. Especially when your friends are all laughing.

But principles are what give your live meaning, and truth, and something to hold on to when you are not sure what gives with the world. Remember that you have friends of color who have experienced discrimination, that you have gay friends who have experienced hatred, that your mother was treated like a servant in my early career becaause women still weren’t expected to be professionals, to be something independent of their husbands ~ a world you can’t imagine.

So something as simple as honesty… telling the cashier there is something under the cart she forgot to charge you for. The habitual practice of honesty will help you when you are really challenged. Something as simple as protecting and caring for those weaker than most; being polite; holding the door for women. Respect the elderly; remembering that they have lived things you can’t imagine and might have something to teach you if you have the patience to listen. This simple practice of respect, for the weak, for women, for the elderly, will bring you relationships you never anticipated and lessons you might be astonished to learn.

Imagine if nobody had stood with the marchers for civil rights; imagine if nobody had stood with women in their fight for property rights and the vote; imagine if nobody had stood for those that Hitler despised. The people that stood up often lost their lives doing so. But they did so because they couldn’t imagine a world in which such terrible injustices continued to exist, and it felt worth their lives to try to prevent these injustices.

I hope you are never tested in that way, I hope your principles never put your life in jeopardy. But I do hope that you have the courage to stand up for what is right in whatever ways challenge you in your life. It is important to stand up and be counted, to look back and say, I lived a life of principle, I did the right things, I did good in the world.

Stay in touch!