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MoreLIP: The Way We're Programmed

06/08/2009 — George Lipper, Development Capital Networks

    Here I am, at deadline, staring at the proverbial blank page wondering what to write about for MoreLIP this week.

    While this is not meant to be biographical as much as educational, I thought I might share a few words about an awakening I experienced yesterday.

    I listen to books on tape while taking a walk most mornings. I’m currently listening to David Halberstram’s “The Coldest Winter” published a year ago, six months after his untimely death in a car accident. The book is about the Korean War and how we got there.

    Just why should that experience be of any interest to readers of LCW?

    Because that is why I edit this newsletter, why I come to be here. It’s a lesson in helping children during in their most impressionable years growing up, a lesson you might like to share in guiding the aspirations of your children or grandchildren.

    As Halberstram described the how and why (all the way back to the beginning of the 20th century) of the Korean war, the light suddenly appeared for me, more than 50 years after I joined the Marine Corps.

    No complaint. I enjoy doing this. The intervening years have been good to me. It’s simply that Halberstam’s book suddenly penetrated my consciousness as to how I came to that decision.

    During World War II, I was at that impresionable age, 8-12. I watched, sometimes with envy, as older kids in the neighborhood joined the military. Strutted around in uniform. I went to all wartime propaganda movies: A Yank in the RAF, Casablanca, The Navy Comes Through, Bataan, Guadalcanal Diary, Gung Ho, Lifeboat, The Sullivan Brothers and so on. I wanted in. I even felt a bit guilty that all I could do was save thrown-away cigarette package aluminum foil.

    So when in 1951, I finally stumbled out of Brockton High and into a miserable poultry factory job, I couldn’t wait to sign up and get ‘over there’ before all the action was over in Korea. My brothers followed; and one even made a career of it.

    My point is that yesterday I suddenly realized that my life was largely shaped by what I unconsciously internalized in those pre-teen years.

    Conditions are as true today as they were then. In an increasingly flat world racing toward an unknown future, increasingly technology based, education and guidance become even more important to your children’s future than was mine to me.

    I’m delighted to be doing what I do, but this job is not likely to exist 50 years from now. Newspapers are already fading fast. Communication models will continue to change as dramatically.

    What experiences your pre-teens absorb today may well determine what they’re doing a half century from now. You can help guide them to open the right doors.