Sunday, June 14, 2009

Reminders of my Father

As Jonathan Swift wrote back in the 18th century, taking disputes to the courts certainly resolves the disputes: He said he had a dispute about a horse, and, after the lawyers finished, the lawyers owned the horse, and Mr. Swift and the party he was either suing or being sued by no longer had a horse to argue about. It was not a resolution Mr. Swift appreciated, to judge by the tone of his essay.

Over the last year, two people I know found themselves mixed up in two separate disputes that they do not wish to take to court. They both want someone who will listen to their disputes and whose decision as to who owes what to whom will be respected.

This reminded me of my father, who was often called upon to play that role.

It's not an easy role to acquire, but everyone always seemed to accept my father's decision. And he never accepted the slightest remuneration for his services in these matters.

So people like my father tend to be in great demand but very short supply. Somehow, they must have a je ne sais quoi (and je ne sais how to get it) that makes all parties agree that their decision was fair and just, so the dispute is resolved without hard feelings or threats to go to court. It's a rare gift.

So, last year when these two friends, on two separate occasions for two completely unrelated disputes asked me if I knew someone who could play that role, I thought of my father.

He was only decent, honest arbiter I ever knew, and he is no longer with us.

And, as I do every year, I think about him today and what the world has lost.

1 Comments:

Blogger Seabee said...

This sounds like my father too. Sought out for arbitration and letter writing by friends, neighbours, aquaintances. He also is no longer with us.

We miss them don't we.

2:44 pm  

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