Friday, August 24, 2012

Letter to Prince Harry

Your Royal Highness:

"What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas."

Would that it were so!

As a father, a fellow subject of the Queen, and one who has given his life to transmitting what guidance can be found in books on how to live, I want to offer you some advice. Not advice on what to avoid: plenty of those who know you are not going to be sparing with that, but advice on what to pursue.

You are in a difficult situation because, your military duties apart, you have a hard time finding answers to the question of how to live the life you have been given, with its privileges and burdens. You must often feel that you can only be who you are.

People want to know you, to get close to you, because of who you are, and not because of anything you have done or will do. The question is, how can you use this weakness in them, which you have probably already learned to see as less than charming, in order to foster the kinds of things you find worthy.

Ask yourself what forms of excellence you find it easiest to admire and appreciate. It may be that you admire valiant military men and women, who, like yourself, put themselves on the line for their country and family. Is it athletes who dedicate themselves for years to excellence, scientists who discover new and profound truths about nature or humanity, engineers who turn those truths into marvels, businessmen and women who make their fortunes by making the lives of ordinary people a little brighter? Do you admire most and enjoy the company of those who devote themselves to caring for those who cannot care for themselves, of the politicians who take upon themselves the responsibility of making the ends of society fit its means, the artists who delight or enchant us, or the religious who remind us of our duties and show us the consolation of God's unceasing love?

A prince can afford only the company of the worthy and honest. You need to find ways to make the privilege of your company a reward to those in whose accomplishments you yourself take pleasure. In this way you will do good and do so in way you enjoy.

The existing societies, charities and foundations may provide frameworks for you to do this. If not, there are plenty of people with means who share your sense of what is admirable, and who will be thrilled to work with you to foster excellence in the things you care about.

As a soldier, a prince, and one day soon, a husband and God willing a father, you have it in you to do admirable things. It will all be easier when you find a wife who can bear up under your social role and hers, but who admires you for the admirable things you can do and will help you to do them.

I am,
Respectfully yours,
Michael S. Kochin
Professor Extraordinarius of Political Science
Tel Aviv University