Sins of the Father

“The collective consequences of a father’s sin . . . does not eliminate the personal responsibility of the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.”- Jochem Douma.

I read this quote on Friday after hearing the tragic, yet somehow not surprising, news that Mark Madoff, Bernie Madoff’s eldest son committed suicide on December 11.  Although Mark, together with his brother Andrew were seemingly behind the lifting of the red curtain on their father’s Wizard of Oz ponzi scheme, (pay no attention to the old gray man behind the curtain pretending to be a financial genius when he is just another common criminal…), it appears that the stress of simply being a Madoff was too much to handle for Mark and he was found dead in his multi-million dollar loft in Soho, NYC.

Although I could expound on why a very visceral and human reaction is to say that it is retribution for Bernie having destroyed so many lives with his lies, what really draws my attention is the generational consequences of the patriarch’s sins.  Mark’s wife, Stephanie, did try to shield her children from association with the scandal by legally petitioning the court to change  her childrens’ last name, but somehow, schoolyard taunts seem trivial in comparison to the emotional and psychological damage Mark’s children will face through adulthood for having lost their father at his own hand. Who will prepare these children to deal with life’s most challenging circumstances?  What they have learned so far from their elders is to lie (nice one Bernie) or to simply end it all (alas not the best lesson a father has taught his children to date).

Such a sad situation all around. I wonder if Bernie ever considered the utter destruction he was setting up while he lived it up in Florida and NYC on stolen green?  Forget the millions of people he swindled billions from, money comes and goes and when surrounded by loved ones eating a holiday turkey, who cares? Life goes on.  But what a life to continue for the Madoff’s, especially Ruth- her husband is in the clink, her son permanently checked out, her daughter- in- law is taking her beloved grandkids down to Florida (after all, without money who is likely to stick around?) and most of her good bling is on the auction block. Yikes, not so much holiday spirit for this dynasty who could really use a Christmas Carol type experience to visit the past, present and future to determine what to change to avoid the repayment of Bernie’s sins for generations to come.

So next time you consider doing something you know in your moral fiber isn’t right, ask yourself if you would mind having your children, or grandchildren, pay the consequences for your decision.

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