The Scott Shaw Blog

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Sins of the Father

“The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.” Deuteronomy 24:16

Over the recent months there has been a lot of discussion about sons and daughters and their link to their father, both in a positive and a negative manner. This has especially been the case in the realms of politics. Though the father, son or daughter correlation has been a seeming constant throughout history, the question must arise, why is this—why does a person need to define themselves by who their father is or was?

There used to be this guy who went around Hollywood, maybe twenty years ago, he told everyone he was the son of Jim Morrison. None of the biographies or the documentaries ever mentioned Morrison having a son, so I doubt it to be true. Maybe the guy believed it, maybe his mother told him that was the case, maybe he was just a liar; who knows? But, he defined his whole identity by that false fact. I wonder were he is today and if he still tells everyone he is the son of the Lizard King?

There was this guy going around Hollywood a few years back telling everyone he was the son of Morrissey. But, we all know why that isn’t true.

Back in the days when MySpace ruled the world, I used to be friends with this girl who claimed to be the daughter of David Lee Roth. We used to speak about her being in one of my Zen Films but that never came to pass. Was she actually the daughter of Roth? I don’t know; maybe? He did have a very big paternity insurance policy back in the day.

We all define our identity by where and by whom we are from. We all define our reality by who and what our father was/is. But, what if what he was is false? What if we were given false facts? What if what we tell others is not true? Then, who are we?

In terms of my life, my father came from very humble beginnings. He grew up in Southcentral Los Angeles. He graduated from Manual Arts High School. Then, for a time, I don’t know what he did. When World War II broke out, and all the young men were enlisting, he decided to join the U.S. Coast Guard. I am told that he wanted to protect the shores of the U.S. You have to remember that there was a lot of fear of foreign invasion during WWII. But, what occurred is that he got shipped across the Pacific and across the Atlantic.

As I got older, I always questioned this story. Why would someone in the U.S. Coast Guard be sent overseas? A number of years ago I requested his military records, and it was all true. He had earned ribbons for the Pacific and the Atlantic campaigns. This was based on the fact that he was placed on ships that transported personnel, ammunition, and military vehicles to the front lines through enemy waters.

When the war was over he eventually decided to open a restaurant. Why, I don’t know? But, it became very successful. In fact, via its various owners, it existed well into the twenty-first century. But, as it was very successful, in maybe ’65, he decided to retire young so he sold it. Not liking retirement, he stepped back into the workforce and became a manager at the Los Angeles Forum, where he eventually died from a heart attack. He died with no debt, driving a new Mustang, and owning two houses. He was a success. He was not defined by who his father was or was not.

This walks us into the quandary of life. We each have a father. Whether we know who he is or not is important only in the sense of how who he is comes to define our own lives. The fact is, people can lie about who their father is or is not. People lie all the time. That is simply the reality of life. Most of us would question why anyone would lie about his or her father’s true identity. But, the fact is, people lie for the most ridiculous of reasons. …At least ridiculous to the mind of anyone who is not telling the lie.

For the person who is projecting this untruth, they have their motives. Is their logic any more important than the objective you have for telling the truth? That is a matter for debate but it still does not change the reality of the reality. You interact with people all the time. Maybe whom you are interacting with is basing all that they do upon truth. Maybe whom you interact with is basing their entire existence upon a lie. But, none of that changes the reality of your reality; you are just a passing entity in the life of that someone else. Maybe you will spend a minute with them or maybe you will spend a lifetime with them but whatever the case, who or what they claim to be can never change who and what they truly are. Just as who or what you claim to be can never change the reality about who and what you truly are.

We all have parents. If we did not, we would not be here. Some of us know our parents—we know who they are. Others of us do not. But, whatever our parents were or were not, all
we are is all we are. All we can do is what we can do. Yes, we can lay claim to who our parents may or may not be. But, is who they are who and what we are? No. Though we can learn from, though we can pay homage to, though we can love or hate our parents, it is only us who can claim what we have or have not done in our life. This being the case, does it really matter who your father was?