Discussing The Past (And The Morally Dubious Things We May Have Done)

I watched one of my favourite films yesterday, Thank Your For Smoking, which was based on the book by the same name by Christopher Buckley. The film focuses on a lobbyist for the American tobacco industry. The main protagonist, as you would expect, engages in a series of socially dubious and morally ambiguous actions to promote the agenda of Big Tobacco all whilst trying to save his soul and mould his teenage son into a functioning member of society.

Its been the first time I re-watched the film since becoming a parent and its actually made me think, what will I tell my daughter about the morally questionable things I’ve done in order to pay may bills. I’ve done some lobbying for the tobacco industry, I’ve done some PR for companies that pollute and deforest, I can’t really go into specifics due to confidentiality and non disclosure agreements, but there have been days where I felt the need for a shower after meetings and press briefings. I can’t really say I was overly successful with the way my career in public affairs turned out, given that for the most part I’m a stay at home dad, but I was good at my job, and a little part of me is still proud of what little I did manage to accomplish.

But one thing that happens in the film (SPOILERS) is that the main character, Nick, tries to explain to his son the world of subtle moral shifts that adults  seem to fall into. And I can’t help but wonder how I’m going to deal with having to explain these things to my daughter. How am I going to explain that I advocated on behalf of an industry that kills over 320 people per day without destroying that black and white morality that children have.

I suppose I could point out the charities I represented and that might offset my being Satan in a reasonably priced suit, but this is just one of those things I have to look forward to as a parent. I mean most parents will probably have to go through some sort of shining a light on their past in their children’s eyes, but mine might be the kind of light show that would put Pink Floyd or Jean-Michle- Jarre to shame.


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