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Fathers Changing the World

‘Pinkie and the Brain’ is one of my favourite cartoons. I used to watch it with my kids when they were young, and I don’t know who loved it more, me or them (but I won’t tell anyone if you don’t).

‘Pinkie and the Brain’ is the story of two enhanced laboratory mice. Wikipedia puts it well, “Brain is self-centred and scheming; Pinkie is good natured but feeble minded. In each episode Brain devises a new plan to take over the world which ultimately ends in failure: usually due to Pinkie’s idiocy, the impossibility of Brain’s plan, Brain’s own arrogance, or just circumstances beyond their control”.

It sounds like the story of my life. Perhaps that is why I like the cartoon so much!

People often ask me what I am trying to do. I tell them, quoting my cartoon hero Brain, “Trying to take over the world”. People think I am joking but my goal is more true than not. Should the conversation need further explanation I usually change Brain’s words slightly to, Ï am trying to change the world but it keeps springing back the wrong way all the time..”

Again people think I am joking, but I am deadly serious, even though I am ‘trying’ not to take myself too seriously in the process. As I say in my bio, “Warwick is a musician, writer, producer and public speaker who likes to think he can still laugh at himself”. It’s just that some days I have more success than others.

Anyway, you now know the truth about me, that I do have a passion to change the world for the better. However, I do find that the hardest person to change is myself. Aristotle said it this way, “I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers enemies, for the hardest victory is over self.”

For this reason I enjoy reading the biographies of great men who did change the world. This can often be depressing as many of them had chaotic and dysfunctional family life. President John F Kennedy was unfaithful to his wife, and the whole Kennedy family, although incredibly wealthy, were chronic adulterers. Mahatma Ghandi, a great leader, lived a life of sexual anarchy which had a profoundly negative effect on his family. Many self-made billionaires had similar failings: William Hearst, Getty and most recently Jeffery Epstein.

Unfortunately such stories of great men, with such dysfunctional family lives, are nothing new. King David, a Bible hero, was an adulterer and murderer and turned a blind eye to incest by one of his rebellious sons. His family lineage was plagued by great men who, because of sexual immorality brought chaos and confusion to their families and in many cases their nation. Solomon, supposedly the wisest man that ever lived, had 700 wives and 300 concubines. His family lineage also paid a price for his sexual demeanours.

Well might you ask, what has all this got to do with changing the world?

You can change the world by your actions and because of poor ethics harm your family and others in the process, or you can work at the process of change from the inside out, and from the outside in simultaneously. This is the only way to bring true holistic change. It is what I call ‘the ethical approach’ to changing the world.

This is the approach I am taking. I often fail, but I am determined to keep getting back up when I fall, and keep being honest about my failures. My goal is not just to change the world by my personal actions, but to leave a legacy of change by being the father and grandfather my children need me to be.

Let me share a story about Jonathan Edwards, a great writer and some say one of America’s greatest philosophers to illustrate my point. To quote from the founder of “All Pro Dad” Mark Merrill:

Jonathan Edwards was born in 1703 in East Windsor, Connecticut. He attended YaleUniversity at age 13 and later went on to serve as president of the college of New Jersey (now Princeton). When he was just 20 years old he wrote a list of personal resolutions. Among them was “ask myself, at the end of every day…wherein I could possibly, in any respect, have done better.”

In no area was Edwards’ resolve stronger than in his role as a father. Edwards and his wife Sarah had eleven children. Despite a rigorous work schedule that included rising as early as 4:30 a.m. to read and write in his library, extensive travels, and endless administrative meetings, he always made time for his children. Indeed, he committed to spending at least one hour a day with them. And what if he missed a day because he was traveling?
He diligently made up the hour when he returned.

Numerous books have been written about Edwards’ life, his work, and influence on American history and his powerful professional legacy. But the legacy that Edwards would probably be most proud of is his legacy as a father.

The scholar Benjamin B. Warfield of Princeton has charted the 1,394 known descendants of Edwards. What he found was an incredible testament to Jonathan Edwards. Of his known descendants there were 13 college presidents, 65 college professors, 30 judges, 100 lawyers, 60 physicians, 75 army and navy officers, 100 pastors, 60 authors of prominence, 3 United States senators, 80 public servants in other capacities including governors and ministers to foreign countries, and one vice-president of the United States.

The story of Jonathan Edwards is an example of what some sociologists call the “five-generation rule.” How a parent raises their child-the love they give, the values they teach, the emotional environment they offer, the education they provide-influences not only their child but the four generations to follow. In other words, what fathers do in their time will reach through the next five generations. The example of Jonathan Edwards shows just how rich that legacy can be.

Lovework

The first thing we can learn from the above is that the best way to change the world long term, is to be there for our children and give them the time and attention they need.

Secondly, actions speak louder than words. “Be the change you seek”. Having a set of strong personal ethics are the only way to bring lasting change.

Thirdly, remember as with Pinkie and the Brain, there is always another episode. If at first you don’t succeed try, try, and try again.

Yours for more World-Changing Fathers
Warwick Marsh

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