It's Father's Day, and so of course, I have fathering and larger metaphors on the brain. We live in a landscape more increasingly wrecked by poisonous models of caretaking; I'm thinking primarily of the fractured political world we inhabit, whether we want to or not. We're at the end of a week where we saw a man shoot congressional male leaders on a baseball field during an early morning practice, and it didn't take long before we saw lawmakers derailing conversations into tired gun control arguments. It's clear to me that we need a different model.
One of my early morning Father's Day readings was this wonderful essay by Parker J. Palmer. He talks about the ways that his father, an Eisenhower Republican, modeled upright behavior for his children. I am sure I am not the only person who finds herself yearning for more of that upright behavior.
Every time I hear people spewing vitriol about Republicans, I think about my own father, my earliest experience with a Republican. While we disagreed often over politics, we usually had reasoned discussions. I think about our conversations about the U.S.S.R., which always led to a discussion about what freedom means. At the time, in the early 80's, I assumed that the Soviet Union was taking care of the basic needs, like food and shelter, of all citizens, giving them a freedom from hunger and homelessness. My father pointed out that the freedom to make one's own life choices was more important.
I will always wonder why we have to choose, and it was from my parents that I learned to think about these choices. We spent a lot of family time in Lutheran churches, where our task was made clear again and again: to care for those in the world who didn't have the advantages that we had.
I want to believe that everyone believes this fact to be true--that we have an obligation to care for those who are less well off. Sadly, I have seen the behavior of those who govern who do not seem to have any sense of that at all--it's different from past political eras when we had conversations about how we help others by leading them to self-sufficiency.
I still believe that most of us have a yearning for a more civil society, where everyone has the potential for creating a better circumstance, at least--maybe not that everyone can have an equal shot, but some sort of shot at a better life.
On this Father's Day, I'm thinking of how many fathers I know who have done a good job on an individual level at caring for the next generation. They're much more involved in their children's lives, regardless of the age. They change diapers, they braid hair, they fix lunches, they teach children the skills they will need, and they help older children find their way in the world.
If we can do this for our own children, we can do this for all children who will come after us.
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