What do you do when you realize, years after the fact, that
you gave bad advice to someone? What if it wasn’t only one person, but many?
What if you gave the advice in a book or article and have no idea how to find
the people who took your advice?

If you are a writer, you might
choose to write about your change of heart.
A while ago, I read Peggy
Orenstein’s lament
when, despite years of insisting that she didn’t want
children, she found out that she actually did. She also discovered that leaving
that decision until she was in her late thirties led to six, tormented, neurotic
years during which she damaged and almost destroyed her marriage, spent tens of
thousands of dollars and frequently behaved shamefully. She honestly portrays
herself in quite a negative light: the self-centered product of a women’s
movement that delivered false promises.  (To
her credit, during those years she did turn down a career-enhancing opportunity
to appear on national TV advocating for childlessness.)

The Sunday N.Y. Times featured another “Was I wrong?” piece
on June 24, 2012. In Missing
the Love Boat
, Jessica Bennett admits that she may have destroyed a
priceless relationship when, at 24, she turned down a proposal, insisting that
marriage was unnecessary. A while later she proceeded to write a cover story
for Newsweek telling young women around the world why the institution of marriage
could be discarded. Today, while recognizing that getting married is not a
guarantee of life-long commitment, she honestly faces the fact that by turning
down her beloved’s proposal, she may have caused the pain that lay at the root
of her relationship’s demise, an outcome she mourns.  As time goes on will she also face Ms.
Orenstein’s dilemma, realizing that the traditional idea of marriage and family
that she so dreaded, is actually that for which she yearns?

We all make mistakes. However, when we publicly champion
wrong ideas, as writers, teachers or public policy influencers, we are not the
only ones living with the outcome of our erroneous thinking. I admit to
empathy. To my husband’s dismay, there are nights I lay awake, tormented at
what I did or did not say at venues ranging from an individual seeking my
advice to TV appearances or public speeches. While I haven’t authored a
Newsweek cover story, I do speak up, and I am aware that people sometimes are
influenced by my words. While I hope I haven’t advocated wrong causes, what I
want to say is not necessarily what I do say, and what people hear is too often
not what I thought I said.

Most of us do not sway tens of thousands with our words.
However, we all affect those around us and the option of remaining completely
silent and not interacting with others for fear of saying the wrong thing would
be a tragic loss to individuals and society. Of necessity, we speak about decisions
we are making whose effects on our own lives are often not visible until years,
even decades, later.

Each of us needs to accept responsibility for our own choices
and to be aware that as persuasive, scientific and reasonable something may sound,
it may be very wrong. We must arm ourselves with moral and ethical compasses, unchanging
core principles, and a permanent vision of life to which we cling no matter how
rare or ridiculed it is and no matter how convincing the arguments made against
our beliefs. We can certainly seek advice and explore issues. Nevertheless, we
need to know that ‘the buck stops here’ when making decisions. When those who
beam a false cultural message face reality, there is no “rewind” button they
can press, that allows them or us a second chance.  

4 thoughts on “Oops!”

  1. This is a great subject. After our son “came out” as “gay”, my wife and I took great pains to learn about the subject and were saddened to find that almost everything you hear about homosexuality is wrong.
    As I sat in the counselors (several) office with my son and listened to the “advice” of these “mental health professionals”, the thought went through my mind that, “what will happen when these folks realize they have been giving bad advice for years”.
    I could not imagine the pain that I would feel after learning all the things I suggested were lies and dangerous. What if it was me who suggested that a child or young adult go out and experiment in such a way. How would I react to find out one of my “clients” committed suicide, died of AIDS, or in another way destroyed their lives (and the lives of all that loved them).
    Before any parent gives in to the trash put out by the American Psychological Association and “well meaning organizations” like PFLAG, do your own homework. To do so, base your internet search on “Same Sex Attraction” or “Unwanted Same Sex Attraction”.

    If you plan on writing me off as “homomophobic”, perhaps you should ask if you are “heterophobic”. Here is the test – use your internet search and look up the following terms “gay bug chaser” and “gay gift giver”. Only after doing so will you question who’s advise is more sane – the word of God given in the Torah or big brained progressives that think they know it all because they went to school.
    We have been warned by wise men – Ronald Reagan(link removed) Paul Harvey (link removed) and the scariest documentation I have found from 1963 -(link removed- I’m afraid I don’t have the time to watch today and I won’t post links unless I’ve seen them.)
    Do not offer up the health and wellbeing to those calling for sacrifice. Over 17,000 die each year in the US from AIDS, almost all preventable. The political left cries out for to end wars but does not speak of these victims of leftism.
    This letter is from the heart. Homosexuality is preventable but you need to do your own work. Just like in George Orwell’s book 1984, the left has been destroying history and replacing it with their own narative. The pain and suffering gone through by parents of these wonderful people is absolutely nothing compared to the pain felt by those afflicted.
    Great book to read – Light In The Closet – by Arthur Goldberg. As the father of a “gay” son, he was my inspiration to sound the alarm and give warning to the world.
    Thank you Rabbi and Suzan Lappin.

  2. Thanks, Mrs. Lapin, for your epistle. Who among us has made no mistakes? The embarrassment grows exponentially if one is a public figure. There was a young author who became famous in 1774 with his first novel, Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (The Sorrows of Young Werther). The protagonist of this novel suffers bitterly from an intense love that never can be. In the despair of his unrequited love, Werther commits suicide. This story became popular and actually inspired a wave of “me-too” suicides in Germany and the wave rippled also over Europe.
    But Johann W. von Goethe did not succumb to guilt. He went on to write reams of literary, poetic and dramatic triumphs, scientific inquiries, and inspired the world in a most positive manner. How did he do it? He turned his back on what used to be and moved forward.
    A notable actress bucked the American political / military system early in her life, and her actions evoked vehement accusations of treason. Man is slow to forgive. Some deride her to this day as “Hanoi Jane.” What she had to say recently in the press: “There are people who have set ideas about who I am, and there is nothing I can do about it. I’ve tried, but then I can’t let that get me down. I know who I am.” She turned her back on who she used to be and moved forward. I must admire her attitude of self-forgiveness. People change and grow.
    Isn’t this the secret of atonement? Confess your failure to the Lord and be forgiven. Next forgive thyself. Then approach those humans whom you may have wronged. If some mortals will not forgive or allow you to make amends, then tune out their bitter dronings. Move forward and do the right thing instead of worrying over the past you cannot change.

  3. Thanks for sharing your wisdom. You express so well what I would like to say to the younger women in my family. I seem to alienate rather than influence when I give advice. I’ll share your words on Facebook and hope others will look for you in the future.

  4. Hi Susan,
    You have stumbled onto why nations collapse and empires crash. It is the spreading of bad ideas and bad decisions. These all silently spread during the good times and bring upon us the bad times. We find ourselves in a Great Recession that wants to be a Great Depression because of this.
    God has given us a solution to this problem concerning financial matters – debt release every seven years. It clips the bad ideas and bad decisions before they can become so great that they can bring down empires – like the US.

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