As a minister, I sometimes struggle with what to say on Father’s Day. Mother’s Day abounds with positive and universally accepted metaphors and archetypes of the female. But it seems that everywhere you look today, men exhibit less than exemplary role models. Male politicians spew hateful and ignorant statements about women, the underprivileged, and loving “nontraditional” families. Celebrity men cheat on their partners, abandon their children, and exhibit a self-centeredness that would make Narcissus blush. Male athletes flaunt the law and act as if prowess in a game somehow entitles them to an elevated and obscene reverence.
So what does it mean to be a man today? Is it violence, misogyny, arrogance, and a callous disregard for those deemed “weak.” What do we actually celebrate on Father’s Day?
Biologically, the human male provides a microscopic contribution to what will eventually develop into an adult human being. Depositing a sperm technically makes one a father. But a real father protects, comforts, endures, and nurtures his seed into a mature being. Real fathers model empowerment, courage, creativity, and self-sacrifice for everyone whose lives they touch. Real fathers show no fear asking for or offering help, accepting and sharing tears of sorrow and joy. A real father embodies the greatest gifts of manhood – using power wisely, meeting others’ need before one’s own, loving with the ferocity of a lion, and committing to family like a swan.
Men, if you sense an ambivalent attitude from others about “our” day, then we must reclaim its importance. Your physical attributes do not define you, but how you use them in service to others. And like everyone else, you are entitled to what you have earned. Respect, and you will be respected. Nurture, and you will be honored. Give, and gratitude will shower you.
Hug. Say, “I love you.” Teach with stern resolve, but always with compassion and understanding. Demand little for yourself, but dispense love like seedlings in the wind where they may create blossoms of life giving beauty.