As a young man, Bob Berschinski was deeply involved in the civil rights movement, protests against the Vietnam war, and the labor movement.
During this episode, we talk about the importance of serving a purpose bigger than yourself, raising a family, nature versus nurture, and the experience of seeing his youngest son – our guest during episode #1 – wounded in combat.
5:15 – “In a very conservative setting, like a Southern Army base or New Orleans in the early 60s, to raise questions about these things…was considered unpatriotic, if not downright subversive. But I was a fairly smart kid, and I actually believed what I’d been taught, that you should follow the truth.”
9:30 – “At the age of 16, I found myself kicked out of high school, kicked out of my family, essentially, with my original ambition of going to Annapolis, being a Midshipman, and then being a Marine very much lost.”
14:15 – “When you’re as active as I was in the antiwar and civil rights and labor movement, basically by the time I was done with that there wasn’t a major corporation in the world that was going to hire me. I had an FBI file a foot thick.”
15:45 – “You have an obligation to society to do your absolute best for yourself and for everybody else to make life better. That can take different forms depending on peoples talents and proclivities, but it applies to everybody.”
16:30 – “Our basic approach was not to preach, but to act and take certain fundamentals as givens.”
18:45 – “You will mind your parents, but your parents will strive not to do stupid stuff that makes you resent them, and having to mind them. I think that was the general guideline.”
26:00 – “I didn’t want him following the standard Wall Street ‘I’m a winner, everyone else sucks’ approach to life.”
31:20 – “He was a disaster. And we weren’t sure if he was still him – at all.”
36:15 – “Susan and I were both hugely impressed with how steady and resilient he was. When he had every right to be pitching a fit, he didn’t. He just said, okay, that happened. I’ll take it from here.”
40:10 – “I think how you raise them is very important, but I don’t think it changes their basic personality – I think a lot of it comes hardwired.”
49:00 – “You realize what you did was like opening a can of beans with a fifteen pound sledge, right?”
51:00 – “I’m a smarter guy now than I was 10 years ago before this happened.”
- My interview with Bob’s youngest son, Dan Berschinski: “Put the fear in a drawer“
- Dan and Bob’s meeting with President Obama: “A wounded West Point graduate returns on a big night” in The Seattle Times
- A profile of Bob’s oldest son, Rob Berschinski, courtesy of Wikipedia
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Thanks so much for listening!