A New Life in Seattle

A New Life in Seattle
August, 2018

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Dirty Bastards are Back Again!

With those six words began one of Time Magazine's all-time ten top family feuds. Six words said to mean one thing but heard to mean another.

Back story: Rudolph and Adolph (Adi) Dassler, committed Nazis and partners in a shoe company, became rivals after WW II.  A growing rift between them had reached a breaking point. Cause: after an Allied bomb attack, Adi and his wife entered a bomb shelter, already occupied by Rudolf and his family. Adi cried, "The dirty bastards are back again," referring to the Allied war planes. But Rudolph heard instead a slam at him and his family.

The partnership dissolved. Rudolph and Adolph went on to found, respectively, Puma and Adidas. The two men never spoke again.

For a more detailed account of the rivalry and split, check out the following story:


No doubt, stranger things have happened than a pair of Nazis creating the world's most beloved running shoes after a nuclear fallout resulting from six words.

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Surely, things at least as strange happen daily round the world. Friendships and partnerships end up with stakes through their hearts because of words meant in an innocent way. I once lost a close online friend because I'd misread her Tweet and responded playfully...then apologized, admitting that I'd read too quickly because I was so swamped. To her, this meant I didn't care. And the damage was never undone. I could tell of other losses over words never meant in an unloving way.

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But let's return to the dueling Dasslers. I have a growing conviction that most eruptions are really excuses disguised as moral indignation. Deeply buried rancor may have been festering for years. The real issues, suppressed for so long, have grown too painful or complex for words.  So the beginning of a feud is usually the ending of a sense of bondage--not to the 'offender' but to the bubbling venom inside.

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God knows, we're well rid of it, whatever the cost. But we're far better rid of it if we can skip all pretense and cut to the heart of our issues. There are ways to do this with far less risk of fallout. If we resist the urge, for instance, to lash out with a list of indictments and make our feelings known instead...Well, something constructive might come out of thaqt.

Accusations breed more accusations; charges, counter-charges.

But, as a wise doctor said:

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