Recently my baby sister watched a classic children’s film in which a significant character repeatedly uttered the phrase “Bippity-Boppity-Boo!”. Being a baby – which is  code for “human parrot” – she immediately started repeating that phrase incessantly. At  first, it was cute. Then she said “Bippity-Boppity-Boo!” while waving at an armchair and it  became a throne. Now, whenever she yells those words and gestures at an object, it immediately becomes far more beautiful, useful and valuable. She turned a puddle in the  lawn into an ornate fountain, a plate of bologna into an exquisite feast and our chihuahua  into a block of rough-hewn wood. Now, correct me if I’m wrong in my thinking, but I believe that my sister has a gift – nay, a calling – that will make her somebody very important one  day. How, as an influential figure in her life during the early phases of her development, can I guide her towards making the most of her abilities?

Fostering Mankind’s Future in Lisbon 


There are two kinds of people:

Those who, when presented with the ability to improve whatever they want, immediately go overboard with greed. They glamorize everything in their lives until they realize that sometimes the things you try to improve had greater sentimental value as they were. Then they end up in a beautiful but lonely existence wishing that they could experience a bit of the gritty imperfection that clung to their former poverty. Think King Midas.

Then there are those who, when presented with the ability to improve whatever they want, immediately become whimsically philanthropic. That’s probably more what you’d like to see for your baby sister. 

The short answer is that you can do nothing particularly effective. Be a model of excellent behavior and there will remain the unalterable experience gap that you are an ordinary, blasé, humdrum human whereas she stacks up as a potential element in future development of small countries. Trying to convince her that she owes something to the world, further, is a habit that tends to create people with a sort of crazed positivity that can easily go awry. It’s a conclusion they have to reach more or less on their own.

So, live your own life, do your best, and try and remember that you owe it to her.