I’m now 43 years old and, the older and wiser I get, the less wise I consider myself. Each passing year I’m more aware of how much I don’t know, how foolish I’ve been in years past and how susceptible I was and continue to be to prejudice and bias. I change my mind about things. I no longer stand by all the articles I’ve published here over the last 14 years.
One example of an article, which I’ll leave up for now, but I do not stand by, concerns Dilma Rousseff of Brazil. At the time, I thought the greatest threat to Latin America, regional trade and world development were these big-state populist leftists, known in Latin America as the “pink tide,” which included Chavez, Kirchner, Morales and Correa.
Those leaders were a threat and did damage to the region, but I was clearly overly reactionary in my treatment of Dilma given what came next: big-state populism from the right wing (mostly manifested itself in North America and Europe, but it certainly exists in Latin America). While I disagree with their policies, Lula and Dilma respected institutions and political pluralism. They were democrats (small d), and that’s most important. My old article wasn’t well-informed, and I’m actually cheering for Lula now.
In another article I shouted at a child on the neighborhood playground in Lima. He had knocked over my then-two-year-old son. He and his group were several years too old to be playing on playground equipment, not only from an development and maturity standpoint but also the standpoint of a sign overlooking the playground equipment indicating it’s for children under 10. Still, shouting at a child was foolish. I could have been more mature. Thinking about it today gives me douche chills. I wish I could make it right with the boy, or his mother who was nearby.
Another yearslong regret concerns my first e-book of nefarious content, which I abandoned long ago. I wasn’t regretful of the story in question, but the publishing of it cost me a friend, another expat in Bogota who I had grown close to. The story wasn’t something he told me in confidence, he wasn’t the source or even present when it happened. But it concerned him and made him a character in the book. He asked me not to publish it, but I did anyway. The story was somewhat innocuous, but I regret causing him any embarrassment and of course losing his friendship.
Those are extreme examples. In most cases, I’ve just changed my mind on something due to being older and wiser, or new information and context. Maybe I just have something to add.
This is the introduction of a new series, the Redux articles, where I revisit an old article with an update, a change in heart of maybe even a reinforcement. They’re simple revisits, as implied in the definition of “redux” … brought back.
P.S. The Rabbit series by John Updike was an inspiration for me. You should probably start with “Rabbit Run,” but the best in the series was “Rabbit Redux.”