I know many men who feel uncomfortable with the attention that they get on Father’s Day. I guess for many years as a father, I was one of those. I was very hesitant to celebrate Father’s Day. Many years ago I had the same negative attitude to Christmas Day, because of all the crass commercialism. I changed, you can too. As a man once said, “When you eat the chicken, make sure you throw out the bones.”Whatever the case, I encourage you as a father to savour and celebrate Father’s Day, just as I would encourage mothers on Mother’s Day to do the same.
Mothers are hugely undervalued in our society. We need to do much more than we do for mothers and motherhood. So, just as we celebrate and encourage mothers, we should do the same for fathers and fatherhood. We should not rescind from it.
As a long time advocate for children, fatherhood and true and noble manhood in the public space, I have often wondered what is going on in our society. All the research shows that Fathers are very important in the life of their children. Children with involved and loving fathers will do better at school, will have higher IQs, will have higher maths and reading scores, will achieve more in the workforce, will live longer, are more likely to sustain successful marriages themselves, will be happier, healthier, and will be more socially popular, and the list goes on.
Children without involved and loving fathers are more likely to develop behavioural problems, psychological problems, commit suicide, more likely to become criminals, use violence, become alcoholics, sex addicts and drug addicts and engage in sexual abuse, be perpetrators of domestic violence and are more likely to end up in jail. Fatherlessness is costing Australia over 13 billion dollars per year. Fatherlessness in Britain is costing 86 Billion Dollars AUD per year.
In spite of these statistical realities, parliaments (mostly filled with men) in many nations across the western world have been guilty of passing some very negative anti-male and anti-father laws over the last four decades. It is especially disconcerting that these same biased anti-father laws also have a damaging effect on our children. Why? The media also has a strong predominance of men, but it too has been guilty of an unwritten bias against fatherhood and masculinity for the last 40 years. Could this bias also be part of my discomfort and earlier reluctance to celebrate Father’s day? As Professor Julius Sumner Miller used to say, “Why is this so?”
Let me give you five reasons for the destructive vortex that fatherhood and masculinity seem to be caught in as we approach Father’s Day 2013.
Firstly, we live in a time of increasing moral anarchy. When hedonism is king, moral anarchy is queen. The proliferation of porn brings a harvest of broken marriages. The worship of self results in the pursuit of pleasure as a sacred quest in defiance of common sense. We as men live in an age where there are no absolutes except for the absolute that there are no absolutes. This bland moral relativism will destroy our families and each of us if we let it.
Secondly, we as men suffer from a deep sense of shame. In many ways this shame goes back to the Garden of Eden and our own sense of fallenness, but it becomes magnified by our own failure. The fact that we live in a time of increasing moral anarchy proliferates our weakness and multiplies our existing shame to even greater proportions.
Thirdly, the rise of radical feminists over the last 40 years has helped produce a body of thought in academia, which in turn influences both government and media, that seeks the destruction of fatherhood and promotes the demonisation of masculinity. As feminist Valerie Solanas said, “To call a man an animal is to flatter him”. Well-known feminist Robin Morgan said, “I feel that man-hating is an honourable and viable political act.” Words fail me!
Fourthly, our own passiveness cripples us as men. We all need a ‘man cave’, but we can retreat there far too often. It is always easy for men to blame someone else. In the Garden of Eden story Adam, after he had eaten the forbidden fruit, said to God, “The woman you gave me made me do it.” We must accept responsibility for our own mistakes. I have met the enemy, and the enemy is us.
Fifthly, we all as men contain a heroic stoicism, which can be a good thing as expressed in ‘women and children first in time of catastrophe’. A woman aboard the Titanic was three times more likely to live, while a man on the Titanic had only 1:4 chance of surviving. This self-sacrificial trait in men is given to us by God, but it can get twisted to the point that fathers refuse to respond to the injustice perpetrated against them, not realising that their children are the ones who will suffer in the end. Sometimes we have to make a stand.
What must we do as men to avoid this vortex of destruction against fatherhood and the male of the species which threatens not only us but our families and children as well? How can we as men openly celebrate Father’s Day for all the right reasons?
- Take a stand against the moral anarchy that so easily pervades our lives. We must regain our moral fibre. If we don’t stand for something we will fall for anything. As men we must heed the words of Albert Einstein, “Gentlemen, try not to become men of success. Rather. Become men of value.”
- Discern between healthy shame that tells us when we are doing wrong and unhealthy shame that will drive us to despondency and despair. We must accept the good and reject the bad. We need help from our Father in heaven on this one because true forgiveness comes from heaven and we all need forgiveness even if we don’t like to admit it.
- Be aware of the innate bias in academic, government and media circles and call out the lies for what they are. If we don’t, our children will be crushed by the oppression we refuse to expose.
- Be aware as men of our proclivity for passivity. As Robert Lewis said, “Reject passivity, accept responsibility, lead courageously and expect God’s reward”.
- Be aware that at times our heroic stoicism can destroy us. We have to be firm and strong as men and fathers and only make the sacrifices that are proper and true as opposed to those that are improper and false.
Our children will become not what we say but who we are. Mahatma Gandhi said,
“You must become the change you seek.”
Rudyard Kipling, in his famous poem ‘If’, says it well.
IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
‘ Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And — which is more — you’ll be a Man, my son!
As Rudyard Kipling points out in manhood everything is in tension. To celebrate fatherhood, we must embrace the tension of the task at hand and the responsibility that goes with it. We as men must be strong yet gentle, loving yet firm, confident but humble, courageous yet caring. The title of Stu Webber’s book, The Tender Warrior, says it all. Make sure you celebrate Father’s Day, this coming Sunday, but for all the right reasons.
Yours for celebrating manhood and fatherhood this Father’s Day,