It's been two weeks since you shuffled off this mortal whatzit and left this world a dimmer place (in both senses). The pain has mostly subsided to an ache, but I don't expect the ache to ever go away. Today, with your permission, I am ending my official mourning period.
The unofficial period, of course, will last until I see you again (God willing).
I just re-read my previous letter to you, and I forgot to mention a few things I learned from you. Some you chose to teach directly, and some I learned from watching you, but all of them were improvements to my character. I wish to note a few of them here.
One of the greatest lessons I ever learned from you is that I must never "think with my heart". It is a great mistake to be heartless, but all actions, even those motivated by the heart, must be thought through. Great harm can be done by acting with good intentions and deficient forethought. I should know -- I've done it more than once myself.
You taught me to always apologize whenever I may have been or done wrong, even if my guilt is not incontrovertibly established. You lived, according to my observations (and I had 51 years to observe you), by the maxim "I've never gotten into trouble by apologizing too often." Actually, you taught me never to apologize for being right, but always apologize for being wrong. I'm getting better at that, but I can't claim perfection yet.
You taught me that we must always be learning. One of the reasons that, for all of your modesty and self-deprecation, you stayed so sharp all of the way to the earthly end was that you were always gaining knowledge. Whether it was reading the newspaper, reading books, watching Fox News, discussing past or current events, or traveling to historic places, your knowledge-gaining mechanism was welded in the "On" position.
You taught me not only to trust my own judgment, but also how to hone my judgment to a sharpness that would justify my trust. You taught me to examine people and events myself, and to never discard my own opinion just because someone else has a reputation as an expert. When Friedrich von Hayek wrote that it would be difficult to imagine a more dreary world than one in which all of the supposed experts had the authority to run all matters in their fields, he wasn't telling me anything that I hadn't already learned from my wise father.
You taught me to beware of iconoclasts. The world will always have imbeciles who claim that Abraham Lincoln was a racist despot who cared nothing about slavery, or that the Holocaust never happened, or that George W. Bush and Richard Cheney were war criminals. The freedom that God gave to every human being to have their own opinions does not entitle idiots to have their opinions respected. Berke Breathed (the creator of the Bloom County comic strip) wrote that if 50 million people do a stupid thing, it is still a stupid thing. I knew this already -- thanks to you.
You taught me that racism isn't just disgusting -- it's also intellectual laziness. Thomas Sowell (I believe) wrote that there is no such thing as a "typical" white person, or black person, or Korean or any other sub-grouping. there are on this planet some 7 billion plus individuals, and only a mental dullard believes otherwise.
There does seem to be a lot of them about, Dad. Thanks for making sure I didn't become one of them.
You taught me that it is important to be polite, but even more important to be honest, and that's why PC is BS.
You taught me to "play by the rules", and that's a key reason why illegal immigration is not to be tolerated or "winked at". When the law is not unjust, there is no excuse for breaking it. That's why the Underground Railroad was just, and modern illegal immigration is not.
You taught me that abortion is a legal absurdity and a moral atrocity. You taught me that Roe v Wade was to life what Dred Scott v Sandford was to civil rights.
In one of the wisest observations I've ever encountered anywhere, you told me that the one fact of human nature that has made every tyrrany of history possible is that every population contains 5% who will betray the freedom of the other 95% for power and/or money.
You taught me that honor is more important than gain, and people are more important than things.
You didn't actually teach me that you were the greatest father I ever could have wished for, though. I learned that one on my own!
Your loving, grateful, grieving son,