I’ve Been Here Before:: Father’s Day Reflections on Fighting for a Better World

I've Been Here Before:: Father's Day Reflections on Fighting for a Better World

First, thanks for this Father’s Day forum.  I wish I could contribute the loving, lighthearted commentary I originally planned, but it’s the middle of 2020.  We need more than ever to be loving, but lighthearted can wait.  We have work to do.

I know this because I have been here before.   I was 16 years old in 1968, a year that can be described as 2020 without smart phones.  Every TV news program featured a Vietnam War death toll chart, racial injustice exploded into violence, attempts at peacemaking were mocked, and peacemakers Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy were assassinated.  The year ended, however, with a remarkable symbol of hope, the beautiful blue ball image of earth captured by the Apollo 8 astronauts orbiting the moon.  We exited 1968 knowing that we had turned the corner; that the act of lifting our eyes to the heavens and a generation inspired {my generation} would make all that bad stuff go away. 

It did not.  My Father’s Day attire this year is a mask, mockery and tear gas are again the leadership tools of choice, and your generation is confronting the economic reality that you will not do as well as your parents. Apparently all that gazing to the heavens caused us to take our eyes off the beautiful blue ball.  

So the work remains to be done.  Here are some thoughts, offered for your parenting consideration, because what we model for our children today will inevitably come back tomorrow.  We can’t afford another 1968/2020.

  • Encourage your children to dream their own dreams, not yours. My parents were born into the Great Depression. So my generation buys low and sells high.  Our dream for you was that you would become elite.  So now most of the world lives on the wrong side of extreme inequality.  They say that generals are always fighting the last war.  So are most of us.
  • Bright and hopeful are not solutions. Revealing the geek streak my children know so well, I live- streamed the press conference that followed the May 30 Space-X launch of two of our latest astronauts.  The very first question asked of the NASA Administrator was if he had anything to say to the many Americans who are now protesting.  His answer: “This accomplishment is bright and hopeful, and it reminds us that tomorrow is another day”.  That’s the problem. Bright and hopeful are always about another day.
  • Practice advocacy, not obstruction. Debates among people of good will are won by those who present the best case.  As a fan of the musical Les Miserables, I can tell you that defending barricades never ends well. 
  • The only absolute rule is respect. I am currently reading an oral history of 9-11.  One of the remembrances is by a Coast Guard officer who participated in the massive boat lift that evacuated hundreds of thousands of people from the southern tip of Manhattan.  “I broke more rules that day than probably I’ve enforced in my whole Coast Guard career”.  I hope he earned a medal. 

Finally, about Father’s Day.  I’m going to push my privilege as a guest blogger to brag about the Father’s Day gifts I’ve received from my own five children. 

  • Elizabeth just finished contributing to a Houston Mom’s panel on teaching children about racial justice. She has published numerous articles on inclusiveness.
  • David’s book on racism in religion published in January.
  • Peter, now living in Brisbane Australia, has joined the Australian demonstrations calling out racism against indigenous peoples.
  • Matthew, director of the student orchestra at UC San Diego, responded to anti-immigrant rhetoric by leading the orchestra in performing Huapango de Moncayo, sometimes called the unofficial second national anthem of Mexico.
  • Rebecca, a wedding photographer in Dallas, is now using her social media platforms to feature the work of black colleagues, suspending competition for solidarity.

That’s doing the work. That’s hope.  That’s real inspiration to a proud father.


I've Been Here Before:: Father's Day Reflections on Fighting for a Better WorldAbout Bill K.

Bill K. is the proud father of 5 and grandfather of 8. He raised his family in Houston, and after retiring from his long career as a chemical engineer, now spends time both in the city and his home in East Texas. 

 

 


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