Fathers and Sons
There was a joke I read in Reader's Digest back when I was growing up. It was about Abraham Lincoln and involved a man lecturing his son.
Father: When Abe Lincoln was your age he was working his way
toward becoming a lawyer.
Son: Well, when he was your age, he was President.
I waited years for my father to say something remotely related to Abraham Lincoln so I could tell him the punchline. A few years later he did, and I muffed it by saying, "Yeah, but so what? He walked barefoot in the snow to get to school. Big deal. I walk to school everyday myself. Maybe I don't have a cold biscuit in my pocket, but the lunches there are pretty damn yucky, if you ask me."
It's bothered me for years that the universe conspired to get me the opportunity to look very witty, and instead, I looked both stupid and petty. Looking back on those years I've noticed that around that same time there was a decided shift in how people, no not people in general, in how the fools who were busy brainwashing us at the time, regarded the institution of fatherhood.
Fathers like Ward Cleaver, Jim Anderson, and Andy Griffith who once populated our culture disappeared and were replaced with the likes of Al Bundy, Homer Simpson, Hal Wilkerson and Peter Griffith. And it was also noticeable, that the positive image of men in general had suffered with the growing cries of "Death to the Patriarchy!" It's very plain to see now, and actually has been for years, that the people who run this world are trying to pass the blame for every injustice and every wrong turn we've made as a species unto the shoulders of the male members. They strenuously object to painting whole peoples with the same brush, except when it comes to men, then they expose their agenda by putting forth the idea that men like Charles Manson, Hitler, and Harvey Weinstein are representative of our entire sex.
I've written a lot about how me and my buddies hung out at Pop's Candy Store during our formative years. It was where we tested out new ideas and theories and came to a lot of our conclusions about what life really means. There were no pictures of our fathers hanging on the bare unpainted walls, but if you knew where and how to look, you could see the always present ghostly images of our dad's hovering in thought bubbles above our heads. Our fathers were our first take on how the Old Testament Jehovah played out on a material level, men who told us which wires not to touch, which lies to never utter, and which things to never do. Hardened men of experience who defined the parameters of our existence.
And far be it from me to say that they were perfect people. They never were. They had their flaws, sometimes a whole shitload of them. But it was always more than a little instructive to see how they took on the traumas of their past and juggled them with the obstructions of the present and tried to guide both forces into a better future for their families.
Sometimes they were absent too, and we were supposed to learn lessons about how to function on our own while making crossroad decisions using only the lessons they taught us and the often monosyllabic instructions they left behind.
My friends and I have our own flaws too, some of them caused, no doubt, by our unwillingness to ask our fathers the questions we really needed answers for. But all of our efforts to repair the damages that life inflicts upon adolescent boys were usually based mainly on the knowledge that we could trust our dads, not only to give us straight answers when we needed them, but also to never to turn their back on us when we really fucked shit up.
In literature the absent father motif is often used as a symbol for the absence of God. It was used mainly as a thematic question asking how mankind is supposed to act when God is not around. The modern media though uses it instead to push the belief that there is no God and therefore humanity must learn to rely on the blathering nonsense spewed out the mouths of morons, self-serving narcissistic politicians, and the beneficence of the people who call the shots.
And none of them are the least bit concerned with the lack of parameters in the world that they are pushing us toward, or the long-term effects of the lies they tell us everyday. And we know that we can't trust any of them to give us straight answers when we need them, and we especially understand that they'll be among the first to shame us if and when we make mistakes.
What they don't realize though, is that our dads are always around somewhere advising us to be suspicious of preachers with pearly teeth and slick backed hair, not to get involved with women who think credit cards and bon-bons are the crown of creation, or placing our trust in people who constantly bad mouth our fathers.