Saturday, June 20, 2009

Fatherhood and Apple Pie

People who proclaim we are in the midst of some pivotal moment in history live in an eternal present, heedlessly and recklessly discounting the many previous pivotal moments that have come and gone throughout time. Then there are the mystics who will tell you our every action has infinite repercussions; the beating of a butterfly's wing will set off ripples that will echo throughout eternity. Let's say for argument's sake that reality works somewhere in the middle range between these two extremes: there are some moments that are more important than others, but by and large they are impossible to identify without the benefit of hindsight. However, this Father's Day I am going out on a limb and proclaiming that something Big is Happening Out There. I'm not exactly sure of what it is, but I think we can agree that the spectacle of Obama proclaiming the importance of mentoring and fatherhood from the lawn of the White House is an image that redefines how we see ourselves as a nation. I've always wondered if America is a fatherland in the way of Germany and say Iran, or a motherland in the way of Russia, and say Ireland. We are really neither and that has advantages and disadvantages, but one of the disadvantages is that the disadvantaged have no place to go when the going gets tough except by dint of their own or others exceptionality. That is the crisis of fatherlessness in the black community in a nutshell, that we are both motherless and fatherless in an explicitly cultural way and rely on purely legalistic loyalties (to the Constitution) or popular affiliations (to the Red Sox or the Black Hawks) to hold us together through those moments that are less pivotal, in other words most of the time. That we needed a day of national attentiveness to the perils of an epidemic of fatherlessness speaks to the lack of community, the lack of solidarity throughout the land.
The mullahs in Iran must be gagging in their beards at this extremely unflattering irony, that this half black President of a deracinated people in a Godless outpost of Hell should be pedalling fatherhood while their fatherhood is being rudely called into question by the compliant children of Persia.
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