Saturday, February 14, 2009

Being Responsible for Others

There has long been historical belief that the ancestral wicked deeds of others are on the hands of their offspring.

In biblical times this was most certainly believed to be true.

The Old Testament is replete with stories of the offspring bearing the responsibility of their parents and parents' parents.

In the New Testament in Matthew 27:24-5 it is written:

When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, "I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it." And all the people answered and said, 'His blood be on us and on our children.'
When I read moments ago that a British veteran, William Foxton, had committed suicide after losing his retirement of $1.45 million in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme, I was reminded of the scripture above.

The Daily Telegraph quotes his son, Willard Foxton, as saying,

I want Madoff and others involved to know that they have my father's blood on their hands.
Is there any truth to the transgressions of others being upon another? Even if we are not directly involved, are we unwilling participants through association? Is guilt the modus operandi here?

Madoff's wife and children may not have been participants in the scheme, but they most surely have directly benefited. Although, it is hard to believe that in a family business in which the sons worked that they did not know of the scheme. I fully believe they knew.

What should be done in such cases? Are the actions of familial retributions unjust? After all, the notorious undoubtedly certifiably insane, Charles Manson, remains in jail after his "family members" murdered Sharon Tate and others. Others committed the crimes that Manson was charged with having master minded.

These are just random thoughts after reading the above article that saddened and angered me. As always, I'm open to comments, correction, and criticism.


Brosreview said...

Honestly, I have been caught up in this quite often, but in a good way.

I think this is quite hierarchical in process. I mean, if your elder family member has done something wrong, it sticks like a scar on the forthcoming generation's image forever.

And, if something good had been done, its fruit is enjoyed by many generations to come.

I recall having an innocent fight with my dad when all would compare my works to his; in the creative aspect. The songs I wrote, the words or manner of speech, my paint works, my intelligence have constantly been compared with my dad.

Or, I have had people saying "See, your dad did this. So, you should too".

Then, one day I had an outburst when I yelled out to my dad, "I don't want to be known as your son. You should be known as my dad".

Probably, I was sad that I was overshadowed by him. I know it was a naive and immature thought.

But, it made my dad feel quite proud of me.

Getting back to the point, I think it is not just in the biblical times. It still prevails.

Err, sorry for the long comment Judith.I got carried away.

judith ellis said...

Brosreview - Thank you very much for your comment. I know for many (blacks and whites Americans or South Africans or American Indians, Australians or native aboriginals, Jews or Germans, Palestinians or Israelis, etc.,) such a discussion is a bit touchy. But I think that they are indeed necessary.

I most certainly suspected that such things have carried on to this very day. In fact, I can point to such things within my own family. Regarding your story, I too had such an outburst with my mother after which she respected me even more. I think such things are quite universal.

To a large extent it seems incredibly unfair and unjust that our parents and ancestors actions are placed on us, as we can't be personally responsible for things they did. But to some extent we have either benefited or not from their actions. We like to simply say, "Well they did that and not me." But for me the question is always how have I benefited or not and what can I do presently to make a difference.

What we do and how we live our lives daily is so very important, as there are always others being influenced by them and looking and taking notes, consciously or subconsciously. As a child, I was incredibly consciousness of my surroundings and others. I remain the same today.

And, Brosreview, you may always get carried away here. Pleasure.