"In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since. "Whenever you feel like criticizing any one," he told me, "just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had."
Anyway, Nick's father was right, and it's an important lesson we all have to learn over and over. Which is why I am withholding judgement against the poor, misguided young man who went nuts in Aurora last week, wanting to learn more about how his family treated or mistreated him and what he lacked growing up that made him come apart like that. I do believe that families play a big part in how we turn out, which is why I am continually stunned by friends who tell me, when I mention that our son is coming to stay with us for awhile, things like "Oh, you don't want him living with you," and "You better show him the door pretty quick."
In tribal societies, generations lived and still do live together. That was true here in America at one time also, and still is on farms and in rural areas. But in the big city, where we are all so sophisticated, we're supposed to shoo those birdies out of the nest as soon as possible, never to share a roof again until we are too old and frail and sick for any of the parties involved to enjoy one another. I never lived with my own father past the age of 19, and only spent quality time with him for the last three months of his life when he was 72, bedridden and weak from surgeries and cancer. We had some good times then. I wish there had been more, like all those years when he was healthy and strong and I was finally not a smart-ass and could have enjoyed him, and we could have gone bowling together and he could have taught me to play golf, but instead I was stoned at rock concerts with my peers because society frowns on parents and adult children living together in the prime of their lives. How odd, and how sad.