16. What Kind of Son or Daughter Should I Be?

Excellent Book: Charlie Munger For All Seasons

People used to say: “What goes around comes around.”  I have come across ageing parents who had loved their children dearly, perhaps even more than they do themselves, to have their children treat them really poorly with cruelty thrown in. Quite often if we delve into the scenario deeper, we would inevitably find the parents themselves treated their own parents poorly and so the children take cue.

What has Charlie Munger to say about this? First, he is a great admirer of Cicero who believed in the display of great respect to elderly males (and [sic], females). Second, he subscribes to the philosophy of filial piety as propounded by Confucius. Third, he said of friendship that “you should be the friend you want your friend to be.”

Charlie Munger:

  1. Cicero believed in the display of great respect to elderly males. He thus had roughly the same good idea as Confucius. Moreover, he counsels old men to stand up for their rights: “Old age is ever honorable when it takes care to support its proper rights and gives them not weakly away but asserts them to the last.”
  2. All my life I have admired Confucius. I like the idea of “filial piety,” of ideas or values that are taught and duties that come natural1y be passed onto the next generation.
  3. The safest way to try to get what you want is to try to deserve what you want. It’s such a simple idea. It’s the golden rule. You want to deliver to the world what you would buy if you were on the other end.

Overall, I would summarize Charlie Munger’s ideas on the topic as follows:

  1. Show great respect to your elders. Respect does not mean agreeing to everything.
  2. Practice filial piety.
  3. Be the son or daughter to your parents as you want your children be to your when you grow old.