Memories of Awe Episode 21

As Liz thought about Professor McKown’s memories of awe, the issue of a parent’s role in the creation of moral beauty had come up only a few times. She felt that parents certainly had a positive impact on fostering the traits that contributed to moral beauty. But, could parents also be a challenge?

LJI’d like to pursue the issue today of how parents can impact the traits that contribute to moral beauty. I suspect you’ve seen some cases where students’ parents were a negative factor. Do you have a memory to share with me?

KMcK:  I do. Darren came from a wealthy family. I don’t get many students of wealth so I didn’t know what to expect.

My first memorable experience with Darren was actually through his father. It wasn’t a good one. His father was a Senior Vice President at one of the top corporations in our state. He thought his position would allow him to assert privilege for his son. He was very intrusive in Darren’s class schedule. He wanted me to guarantee him that Darren would only have outstanding teachers. I assured him that his son would do just fine.

LJ: When you met Darren, was he like his father?

KMcK:  Not at all. In fact he was embarrassed by what his father had done. He was a good student who never asked for a favor. He was a great sports fan, and we would often talk about upcoming games.

LJDid his father calm down?

KMcK:  I wish I could say yes, but that was not the case. I make an effort to help all students get an internship. I was able to help Darren get an internship with a company owned by one of our alumni. His father thought the internship was beneath his son’s abilities. The company was small and Darren would be asked to do a number of different things, including direct labor. Darren came back to campus very proud of what he had done. He continued to work for the company each summer until he graduated.

LJI guess that made the father proud?

KMcK:  He was not at all pleased. He had imagined that Darren would have a job where he would wear a suit and work in New York City.

When Darren was nearing graduation, he had an offer to stay with the company where he did his internship. This was my next unfortunate experience with his father. His father had always envisioned that Darren would join a national company and start working his way to the top. He didn’t think the local company would be suitable for his son. I helped Darren think through his decision, and he decided to accept the offer against his father’s wishes. I became the family nemesis. He even complained about me to the University President.

LJ: What a jerk!! But I have a feeling there is more to the story.

KMcK:  There is. Five years later, the corporation where Darren’s father worked closed its doors, and he lost his job. By comparison, Darren was asked to head up a newly formed subsidiary of his company “which had no growth potential”.

LJ: That’s an amazing story. Thanks for sharing it.

KMcK:  But wait, there’s more. Darren’s company is now the fifth largest of its type in America. Darren is now the Vice President of the company.

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“A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.” – Dwight Eisenhower

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