Never be afraid to get dirty, but be sufficiently sure-footed to avoid the abyss of contamination.


One can argue that both Reuven Malter and Danny Saunders are products of their fathers. Chaim Potok’s The Chosen and The Promise follow the lives of these characters from little league baseball to adulthood. Reuven’s relationship with David, his father, might best be described as idealized. Reuven respects David’s advice and guidance, and David respects Reuven’s beliefs and opinions, even those that differ from his own world view. 
Their relationship serves as a foil to the conflicted one Danny has with Reb. Reb Saunders expects his son to take his place as rebbe; unfortunately, Danny would rather be a psychologist, and fulfilling that desire means abandoning a tradition that has spanned generations.

While neither the weight of history nor its associated drama factor into my decision-making process, I have sometimes thought about how my choices might affect my parents. To what extent is such a consideration reasonable? 

Mmm mmm, I don’t know. Stevie Nicks begins the live version of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” by saying, “This is for you, Daddy.” While the reason for this dedication is unclear, it resonates with the chorus:

Well, I’ve been afraid of changing
‘Cause I’ve built my life around you,
But time makes you bolder.
Children get older,
And I’m getting older, too.
Oh, I’m getting older, too.

Change is important if one wants to adapt to one’s environment, but is their a risk associated with abandoning the ways of previous generations?

Among the many Hagakure quotes that appear in Jim Jarmusch’s Ghost Dog is the following:

It is said that what is called “the spirit of an age” is something to which one cannot return. … For this reason, although one would like to change today’s world back to the spirit of one hundred years or more ago, it cannot be done. Thus it is important to make the best out of every generation. This is the mistake of those who are attached to past generations. They have no understanding of this point.

On the other hand, people who only know the disposition of the present day and dislike the ways of the past are too lax.


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