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03 September, 2014

VOICES OF OUR FATHERS


          Of the 7.2 billion souls who occupy this space and place we know as Planet Earth, at least approximately 1 billion souls are Fathers.  They are Our Fathers -- old men, young men, poor men, rich men, homeless men, incarcerated men, wise men, married men, divorced men, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Quakers, Buddhists, and agnostics.   If each of these approximately 1 billion voices – Voices of Our Fathers – were to speak as one voice, what would they tell us?  Would they speak of the dreams they have for Our Children --  the “heart and soul” of the village – and “Emerging Keepers of the Planet”?  And when asked to speak about their dreams – the dreams they had before they became Fathers – dreams they cast aside so that Our Children can have the freedom to dream dreams and transform those dreams into realities that the world can see, feel, hear, and touch, would these approximately 1 billion voices become pensively silent?  Would they urge us to fight against injustice, search for truth, step out on faith, and find the courage to stand in our own truth even if it means we must stand alone?   


             The Voices of Our Fathers remind us of our connectedness to one another and that we are more than mere extensions of them.  Listen as at least 1 billion voices speak as one voice  – urging us to never discount history – our own and the history of others who may not look like us, dress like us, speak the same language that we do, and who may worship differently.  Yes, we may be different.  But it is our differences that make each of us unique.  Differences are to be embraced.  And yet, despite our differences, there is an invisible thread that connects each of the 7.2 billion souls throughout our global village.  We all dream the same dreams; have the same hopes and fears; and experience moments of deep despair and intoxicating jubilation.  .  Our Fathers – at least 1 billion men who are old, young, poor, rich, homeless, incarcerated, wise, married, divorced,   Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Quakers, Hindus, Buddhists and agnostics – with one voice are telling Our Children:  “Transcend the boundaries of religion, ethnicity, politics, language, culture, class, and economics. It is my fervent prayer that you inherit a world that is peaceful . . . compassionate . . .  and economically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually vibrant.  My greatest wish is that you will learn to create your own happiness.  Happiness is something we can only create for ourselves. We cannot and should not rely on others to make us happy.  Find your purpose in life.  Everyone has a purpose --  a reason for being on this space and place we know as Planet Earth.   Make each day better than the day before.”


        For centuries, Our Fathers have quietly and unceremoniously gone about the business of positively shaping the minds and souls of Our Children – our bridge to the future. They elected to remain silent about what they needed and wanted to raise Our Children – a task which has always been daunting.  As we approached the 21st Century something changed.  Married Fathers, Divorced Fathers, Incarcerated Fathers, Custodial Fathers, and Single Fathers took a long look at their reflection in the proverbial mirror and embarked upon a journey to redefine their parental roles and responsibilities.  They spoke aloud about what they needed and wanted to raise the Next Generation of Leaders, Husbands, Fathers, Wives, and Mothers.   But it did not end there. Our Fathers are transforming public policy which is creating equal parenting legislation that gives Fathers equal standing in legal custody battles to obtain full and/or equal physical and joint custody of Our Children.  While this is not the case in the United States, a number of nations provide paid paternity leave to Fathers.   Our Fathers are not just talking about what they need and want, they are going about the business of getting what they need and want to sustain fully functioning family units and empowered communities.  Where programs do not exist which meet their needs, they are creating them. They are staging boycotts against sponsors of television shows that portray them in negative stereotypical roles.  The Voices of Our Fathers – at least 1 billion voices – speak as one about their humanity:  “I am a human being!  I am not an emotionless automaton.  I laugh.  I love.  I hurt.  I cry.  Yes, I shed tears.  But my shedding of tears by no means is a reason to call my masculinity into question.  I am a man.  Respect me.  Respect my humanity.  I will walk through fire if that is what it takes to protect my family.  My children are my reason for being.  I am capable of loving, mentoring, and nurturing my children – even if it means that I must do it alone.”

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