Community Comment

SUNDAY, JUNE 21, 2009, 1:25 P.M.

Losing on Father’s Day…

Good afternoon, Netizens...

Rather than write effusively about the rite of my father, since that relationship in my life was dismal, heartbreaking and full of personal anguish, I'll briefly mention that I am utterly proud of my son, who lives far away from here, but is in my heart and mind nearly every week through the miracles of modern communications. I could write pages about how my son and I were separated nearly from his birth, and how we were reunited when he found me on the Internet, and our strange reunion in the Amana Colonies in Iowa on a miserably hot day. My God, we're clones, looking so much alike that even my wife was overwhelmed by our similarities in appearance, education and personalities.

Instead, I have decided to write about the losers of Fathers Day, those men who for perhaps similar reasons to my own, find Father's Day to be a day tinged with sadness, emptiness and even grief. We never hear about these men, rejected by their sons and daughters for a number of reasons, or how it must feel to go through life without knowing your children.

Having met and known a few men who perversely have violated their own sons and daughters, and having come to grips with the knowledge of sexual psychopathy and depravity this implies, my first candidates for losers of Fathers Day would be these men. It has been said that once a man goes down this road, he can never return to normalcy, and I tend to agree. While your daughters and sons, once having been deprived of their innocence by their fathers, may over time, extend the silken hand of forgiveness to their assailant, they never again will be able to curl up and snuggle close in daddy's arms without the horrific memories of the past returning. On the other hand, what do such fathers have on Father's Day? With court orders hanging over their heads, orders which restrict how and when they can even be in the presence of their sons/daughters, in most instances Fathers Day is a non-holiday for such men, and perhaps rightfully so, for they are fathers in name only in most instances.

Perhaps someday criminal penology will change its course; suddenly men of good reason will suddenly stop the course of criminal justice realizing there are better methods to cure aberrational or abhorrent behavior on the parts of men and women than putting them in cages. Until that day comes, unfortunately, we have massive stone-grey buildings full of iron cages where men and women are incarcerated for having broken the law. While caging criminals for what is ostensibly called “rehabilitation”, they are for the most part separated from their families and children. How much damned good does it do for a man's soul if the only view his children have of him is from behind bars? We need to change the broken justice system before administering justice. Building bigger edifices to bureaucratic criminology is not the answer.

Perhaps the category of losers of Father's Day that most-easily steal my heart are those men who are mentally ill, especially those men who have served honorably for their country. Disenfranchised from their families through divorce or simply eking out lives in alcoholism or drug abuse, the rites of fatherhood in some cases merely adds to the burdens of pain they already bear. It truly does break my heart when I read of the men on Skid Row who are honored veterans, the cast-off leftovers from our petty wars in foreign countries, who simply put cannot live with their burdens. Bereft of their familial bonds in many cases, cut off from the assistance the VA says they want to give them (but seldom are capable of rendering to toads), and in many cases stuck in the County Jail for being drunk, these men truly lose out on Fathers Day. It is just more pain and anguish to be added to the burdens they already bear, and thus back to the bottle they go, where, for a time, they cannot feel anything at all.

Being a loser on Fathers Day means we all lose something, even if it is the self-respect we would otherwise earn from taking full responsibility for the weakest in our midst. Today I received a picture in a hand-made frame of my two granddaughters surrounded by hearts, my Fathers Day present. Their co-conspirator (my wife) believes that we should all honor traditions, and that she desperately wants them to understand giving of one's self is far more important than the me-first philosophy that is so predominant today.

We can say we are making the world safe for democracy, but when we make the world safe for those who have already fallen off the mainstream track of life, we may have something.

Happy Fathers Day to everyone, whether or not you are a loser on Fathers Day.


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Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.