A Wonderful Man

Hi David,

Today I'd like to tell you a story about Đ° wonderful man, whom I had the privilege of knowing, a long time ago, and the even greater honor of having his blood in my veins. I'm speaking about my grandfather and your great grandfather.

He was a quiet man, never offered opinions or advice to anyone, if it wasn't sought out. He was fighting the Nazis in World War II, but never once shared his war stories unless someone asked. He had a lot to tell, but would always chose his audience carefully. I learned a great deal from him. I can safely say that I am a better man because I spent time with him while growing up, but not nearly enough. Not nearly...

More than 14 years ago, I decided to go and visit him in his home by the lake. Being a minor at the time, I wasn't allowed to go, as there was a war on in Macedonia, which everyone conveniently pretended that it is not happening. Being broke, also didn't help. So, I never went. I'm sorry about that to this day.

About 2 weeks later I received a phone call from someone over there. I don't remember who exactly was, nor does it matter. But I remember the words and the way they burned going into my ear. "Your grandfather passed away today." After that, there was silence. In my heart, and all around me. For weeks. I couldn't even force myself to go to the funeral. I knew I'd never see him again and it was all the same to me.


Believe me, David, I'm trying to always follow the advice he gave me, so that I can become a better man. I hope that one day I'll succeed and you'd be proud of me, the way I am of him.

I can't explain to you, my son, how much I loved your great grandfather Cvetan. I miss him every day. I know that he had so much more to teach me, and to tell me. And I never even had the chance to say goodbye...

Till next time,
Love,
Dad

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Don't Ever Be Like Me!

Hi David,

I read a poem by Sandra Chapin today. No fucking idea how I came across it, but you can never be too sure these days. The modern life, being hooked to all these gadgets, clicking and reading and before you know it you have ended up miles from where you initially wanted to go... But, I'm going off track here before I even started writing the letter.

To tell you the truth David, I prefer the song that came out of the poem, and not even the original, but the rock version, by Ugly Kid Joe. There's something profoundly sad in the lyrics, combined with the powerful music and... If you never came across the song, please listen to it now, before reading on.

I consider myself a smart person. Maybe I'm not. You'll be able to judge best, from your perspective. But, the one thing I could never shake off as a legacy passed on to me is the fucking loyalty I show to people even when they don't deserve it. It might be based on emotion, might be even the fact that I want to believe in someone even when every fiber of my being is telling me that I shouldn't... Whatever it is, I know it is stupid!

You can't imagine, David, how many times I've almost drowned, going down with a ship. At times when I've known that some endeavor needs an exit strategy, I've stayed, just because I'd given my word at some point, and it obviously didn't matter if the circumstances had changed and I was about to be stabbed in the back.

Take care of yourself first, my son. You are the most important person in the world. If you're not in it, none of your principals would make any sense at all! Take care of your family. Think of their well-being prior to thinking of anyone else. They will be the most important part of your world one day, as you and your mother are to me now, while I'm writing you this rather confusing letter.

Break the cycle, my son. Please don't ever be like me.

Love,
Dad

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The Eternal Macedonian Struggle

Hi David,

You probably remember how I told you about the Macedonian people, and their eternal struggle, and the countless generations swallowed by said fight. Well, let me tell you a bit more about the people of the old country themselves.

Macedonians greatest enemies in history are Macedonians. You might be confused at this point, so let me try and explain. There's an old Macedonian saying that tells us that only brothers that get along can build a house. If you analyze the saying, it'll tell you that most brothers don't get along, and the ones that do are the exception, not the rule. I've seen it myself, with friends and family, and trust me, my son, it's not pretty.

In a greater, historical context, Macedonians have been struggling due to the fact that even when having the same goal, 2 Macedonians will find a reason (if there isn't one, but there always is!) to go their separate ways and never speak to each other... or even worse! 

When there was an uprising during the Ottoman rule, a few hundred people joined, as the others had a legitimate excuse - they were suppose to get up early in the morning, as it was harvest time. Later in the century, when fighting the Nazis, 20 or 30 thousand people joined the liberation war - the others couldn't, as there was a possibility of someone getting hurt!

In modern society Macedonia, if ever there was a problem, a couple of dozen people take to the streets, and all others tell their children to stay away, as there must be someone who is organizing the unrest from abroad, to hurt Macedonia. We were suckers for conspiracy theories, my son. And I couldn't see the trend ending, any time soon.

And I'm convinced that it wasn't society's problem. It's my belief that if two Macedonians are stranded in the middle of the Pacific, on a life raft, they'll turn on each other and die right then and there, fighting over which direction they should take. And trust me, this is me being optimistic. They might as well kill each other over something much, much more trivial.

The main Macedonian motto, going back centuries, is - don't complain, it could be worse. It has been taken advantage by some many, on some many occasions... And many times, it did get worse, but still, we could never see the bottom. 

In a nutshell, this is the main reason why I'd like for you to grow up somewhere else, somewhere where you won't be asked to keep your head down when you believe in something, just so you'd have a chance of a normal life.

Love,
Dad

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Oh, The Stupidity!

Hi David,

I wanted to speak to you about stupidity. In particular - stupid people. But, when I say stupid people, I don't necessarily mean people with a low IQ. You know, they can't help what nature gave them. I mean people who chose to be stupid. They are the worst kind, and please stay as far away from them as possible. Always!

You see, my son, when a human being is devoid from the ability to think and make decisions freely, that human being is degraded to its basic instincts, to the animal we all are...

You'll come across a lot of stupid people in your life. These people have a distinctive need to flock together, to express their herd mentality, as alone - it would be as if they never existed.

Well, my son, you'll identify stupid people by the fact that they never want to speak about the "heavy topics" (religion, politics, and all derivatives), for the obvious reason that they don't have a way to defend their opinions, you know, when they are alone. But don't let them gang up on you, as they'll become a pack of rabid wolves, with the strongest opinions! It makes you wonder where the opinions come from, doesn't it? Bear with me...

Those are the same people that will tell you that are not interested in politics (Aristotle is rolling in his grave whenever this is uttered, but don't mention his name in Macedonia, as he was an Ancient Greek, so it's a bit of a taboo - unless you mention that he was Alexander The Great's teacher, then it would be OK, I guess.) But, let me get back to my point. These same people who are not interested in politics, can be seen after every election with blackened fingers (another archaic method used in Macedonian elections for marking people that have cast their vote). So again, it is a bit of a strange correlation, isn't it?

The same group of people who are not interested in anything, when flocked together with their peers, they become experts in everything. Unfortunately, my son, you'll find these people in great numbers, no matter where you go. So, please be careful...

Stupid people are prone to being manipulated, instructed and seduced, as well as swallowing conspiracy theories like candy. They will follow just about anyone who will make an emotional argument about any odd topic, but mostly topics that touch the nerves connected directly to the basic instincts and needs (food, shelter, safety, sex) and that someone out there, who most likely is your enemy, will try to take away or endanger one of them either by acting or just being themselves. Organized religion does this, political parties do this, and every other organization that needs more pawns in its ranks will certainly do this.

Never get too close to stupid people and don't even try to "save" any of them. They won't listen to reason, they don't have a sense of humor and sarcasm, forget sarcasm, they'll just assume that you're in total agreement with them and go about their day.

Have your own opinions about all topics, my son, as is natural. Think very carefully about every topic presented, before you come away with a conclusion. Don't let anyone serve you a "per-packaged opinion" ready to use for any odd agenda. Think for yourself, and don't be afraid to present your thoughts... to anyone! 

Love,
Dad

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