A tonic to what ills society: Dad as Superhero?

America needs a superhero and the criteria shouldn’t be that the person be able to fly, shoot beams of pulsating light from their eye sockets or even wielding superhuman strength for that matter. That would be setting the bar too low I fear… How about men, who have children becoming the ultimate superhero…. Dad.

Nowadays you need to have a cast iron stomach to listen, watch or read the news. The news events seem to get progressively wackier with each passing day, one can’t help but to feel powerless to stop it. There is a limited pool of options at our disposal, but they are options nonetheless.

One involves cutting yourself off from the world and all of the media sources that transmit the sordid information to your person. The second involves becoming jaded to the things that come to pass and do nothing. The third option is rather extreme and may require a modicum of effort. Doing something small, something productive with the expectation that your good work will have a ripple effect on the community or let’s think even bigger than that; what of society as a whole.

The world has changed dramatically in the three decades plus that I have been a resident on this planet. I remember that in the 5th grade we only needed to bring a note from our parents to get authorization to go off campus for lunch in downtown Chicago, we had an hour for lunch and we would walk 2 to 3 blocks to the restaurants of our choice, eat and then come back to school without fail. The thought that we might be shoved into a car or shot never crossed our minds or that of the school administrators. Nowadays we panic if our child is a couple of feet away from us…

I often wonder how things have gone so far “south” so fast. Although we may not realize it, but we live in a disposable culture: “If its broke don’t fix it, throw it away and get another one,” seems to be the rule of thumb. Often the answer is the one staring us in the face…
It gets to a point where it can give one a heavy heart- the question that we may ask ourselves occasionally, only to push it to the recesses of the mind is: “Does it really matter?” seems to echo and rather than it fading away the sound seems to grow louder with each passing second. It makes me think of a excerpt that I heard on legendary Hip-Hop group De La Soul’s 2004 release Grind Date: “A man has five kids and hates driving a bus, but he loves five kids.” Putting your duty to family above any other selfish desires is what I took from it.

There is so much going wrong in society, especially here in the United States that it is hard to point at one particular thing that is causing this domino effect of madness, but I am of the humble opinion of chalking it up to lack of parenting. When I was growing up my Dad had this mantra that he would always repeat that he got from my late grandmother: “It starts at home and spreads abroad.” Often this was the phrase that he uttered while reaching for his belt whenever me and my siblings broke the rules. Consequently, anything that I got a “whupping” for I never did again. Whenever a harebrained scheme briefly crossed my mind… I thought of my Dad and the belt, thusly the idea left as quickly as it came. The power of the belt nowadays has been relegated to the scrapheap of legend for many parents.

Children need to have boundaries and discipline because if it isn’t fostered at home it spreads abroad and becomes fodder for newsprint and headlines such as: Student with troubled past shoots 4 in Ohio School, Sniper feels shame, guilt for murders, 41 schools on lockdown after threatening calls.

Although it is a small component of a larger complex problem, fatherhood is an essential, not a disposal or optional key. The mindset of many men that fatherhood is an optional pursuit needs to be addressed and quickly. The over sexualized images and messages that are conveyed to youth only stress conquest and leave responsibility as an afterthought. The reality of this really reverberates when I’m driving the streets of West Baltimore and I see children out on the streets when common sense would dictate that they should be inside.
The correlation between the absence of men fulfilling the role that their biological actions has placed them in is galling.

The National Fatherhood Initiative spells out the sobering consequences of the lack of the Father Factor at: http://www.fatherhood.org/media/consequences-of-father-absence-statistics

Should we put out an APB for Daddy?

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