Honor From Our Fathers

posted at 10:30 am on June 20, 2010 by Doctor Zero

My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person: he believed in me.
– Jim Valvano

Honor is essential to the maintenance of a free society.  We learn about honor from our fathers.

When the duties of fatherhood are widely dismissed, or rendered poorly, our understanding of honor is diluted… and freedom soon begins to wither.

This is not to belittle the importance of mothers.  Many single mothers do a spectacular job of providing their children with an understanding of personal honor.  We can respect and celebrate the achievements of extraordinary individuals, without blinding ourselves to the effect of broad trends upon vast populations.  Both fathers and mothers are uniquely important.  Our society is suffering from a pronounced deficit of fatherhood.

There are many ways to define honor.  I suggest viewing it as an expression of faith, in both yourself and others.  An honorable man or woman displays honesty and integrity because they believe others deserve such treatment.  It is a sign of faith in other people that we deal honorably with them, and presume they will do the same, unless they prove otherwise.  Honor is also a gesture of respect we offer to ourselves, because we have faith that we can succeed without deceit and savagery.  If you truly respect yourself, you believe you can win without cheating.

A good father reveals the nature of honor to his sons and daughters through his conduct.  He is loyal to his wife and children, despite the easy temptations offered by the modern world.  He works to build a better future for them, rather than waiting for it to be dropped in his lap, or demanding others provide it for him.  He rejoices in this task, and his joy is so obvious that his family forgives his occasional moments of weariness or frustration.  Through marriage, he has chosen duty over indulgence.  He sees the intricate beauty of permanence, when the flickering neon light of passing fancy is more obvious.  Honor is one of the many frequencies of love.

The absence of a father is a terrible burden for children, and their mother, to bear.  I know, because I’m one of the many children who grew up without my father in the house.  It’s a pain that is not always easy to understand.  What’s missing is too big to be seen clearly.  Generations have grown up listening to the seductive lie that fathers are less than critical.  They are portrayed as a dangerous accessory, prone to explosion and meltdown, easily replaced by a wad of cash or a government check.  Some men have disgraced themselves by allowing this lie to spread, because it suits their convenience.  Some women spread it because they have lost faith in the human race, and believe they armor themselves against an inevitable tragedy.

The opponents of freedom spread this lie because they understand honor sustains liberty, and it flows from the loyal union between fathers and mothers.  Honorable people carry their freedom with dignity.  They understand the difference between charity and dependence.  They are energized with faith in themselves, which makes them courageous enough to take risks.  Honor builds trust between individuals, enhancing the value of voluntary cooperation.

The honor we inherit from our fathers makes us adventurers, explorers, architects, and paladins.  Without it, too many people become predatory, or sessile.  Either way, those people are clay to be molded by the will of others.  When we act in the name of our fathers, we bear the strength of history.  Deprived of this strength, many are trapped forever in the present moment, with past and future beyond their reach.  A good father teaches us that the past and future come as a set.

Some fathers are absent without ever leaving the house.  To them, I would say that fatherhood is your greatest opportunity to testify, before all Creation, that you are not a beast.  Follow its difficult path, in the company of your wife and children, and you may come to understand the true meaning offorever… and then I will envy you, until I am fortunate enough to join you.  If you grew up without a father, then I hope you answer the challenge to give your children what you and I did not have.  An honorable man understands the world is not fated to lose its battle against entropy.  He knows he can help his children make it better.  Look upon them, and understand: you areindispensable.

Happy Father’s Day!

Cross-posted at www.doczero.org.

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Excellent, Doc.

publiuspen on June 20, 2010 at 10:35 AM

Fathers do something for boys that their mothers just can’t. Like a bishop ordaining a priest, our fathers lay their hands on our head (metaphorically) and ordain us into manhood. Like no other measure of it, when your father considers you a man, you’re a man.

RBMN on June 20, 2010 at 10:36 AM

Excellent, Doc.

publiuspen

As always.

beachgirlusa on June 20, 2010 at 10:37 AM

I grew up with a father who was there, but wasn’t. He worked nights my whole life and I learned from him the value of hard work.

My fondest memories are those fleeting moments that he was around on Sundays where we cut wood or grilled chicken. I still use that recipe and it is hard to break out the chainsaw without a thought of him.

He is pushing 80 now and we hardly talk. We are still not close. But I will call him today and tell him I love him.

Happy Fathers Day Dad.

BierManVA on June 20, 2010 at 10:37 AM

Soon father’s day will be dropped from the calendar. In its place, will be State-Assistance day which its namesake has already gladly replaced fathers. Too many women, educated and not educated, have decided, that while they want kids, they don’t necessarily want a husband. An F-buddy perhaps, but a father? – that’s old school.

keep the change on June 20, 2010 at 10:39 AM

Only an honorable man could’ve written this. Hats off to you Doc and especially to whoever raised and instilled these values in you, they did a great job.

beachgirlusa on June 20, 2010 at 10:42 AM

Our society is suffering from a pronounced deficit of fatherhood.

Indeed.
I’ll never forget the time a friend & I took ten boys from our church out to play basketball at a health club. After the outing & after we dropped all the boys off at their homes, as my friend & I were alone in the van, we noticed something profound. We agreed that five of the boys were well behaved, & five gave us problems. We realized that, without exception, all of the former had dads at home, & all of the latter only had moms.
This is not to say that all kids fit this pattern, but dads do make a difference.

itsnotaboutme on June 20, 2010 at 10:43 AM

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there.

Zorro on June 20, 2010 at 10:44 AM

Well said, Doc.

Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers at HA.

ladyingray on June 20, 2010 at 10:57 AM

Another eloquent — and very moving — piece by Doc Zero. Thank you very much — and Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there.

inviolet on June 20, 2010 at 11:04 AM

“Like”

yubley on June 20, 2010 at 11:04 AM

my husband left me with 3 kids to raise by myself.

I know this is a serious disadvantage for them, and I wish I could change it. I rely on my dad to support my boys in their growth and identity. I figure 1 good grandfather is better than nothing.

CambellBrown on June 20, 2010 at 11:07 AM

CambellBrown on June 20, 2010 at 11:07 AM

I pray that your kids will never be without good male influences. May your father enjoy many years of good health.

jgapinoy on June 20, 2010 at 11:14 AM

Honor is also a gesture of respect we offer to ourselves, because we have faith that we can succeed without deceit and savagery. If you truly respect yourself, you believe you can win without cheating.

Eloquent and pertinent, as always. I love Doc Zero’s prose.

Disturb the Universe on June 20, 2010 at 11:17 AM

Soon father’s day will be dropped from the calendar.

Didn’t you know that the day the welfare checks show up each month is already considered “Fathers’ Day”?

[Note the placement of the apostrophe in “Fathers'”, indicating that the day belongs to multiple fathers, not a single father. This is deliberate, in that many of the women collecting these checks have more than one “baby daddy”.]

As usual, Doc, you nailed it. Look at the “community” I’ve just described to see the effect of the marginalization of fatherhood.

The Monster on June 20, 2010 at 11:20 AM

Campbell, I was left with 3, also. The verdict is not in yet, but I know they are all good and kind children. Now I am working to make sure they can stand on their own. My daughter seems to be the one most scarred at this point, but I hope she finds peace. Their father is an alcoholic who inflicted unimaginable wounds, I hope he too finds peace and finds his way back to these wonderful children.

tessa on June 20, 2010 at 11:22 AM

PS Dr. Zero, again a home run.

tessa on June 20, 2010 at 11:25 AM

Today is a tough day: I lost my father to cancer one year ago. I was allowed 3 minutes to give a eulogy. I hope Doc Zero won’t mind if I post it here.

It’s fitting that Father Andy has asked me to limit my eulogy to 3 minutes. The man that we are here to celebrate would have demanded brevity, particularly if he was the subject matter. In fact, I can imagine my father questioning whether we’d be able to fill 3 minutes with stories about him. “Bobby, “he would tell me, “stick to the facts and be done with it, and let the folks get back to their lives. They’ve got better things to do than listen to you prattle on about me.”
If only it were that easy, Dad. If only I could quickly capture the essence of a man I believe, like so many people here, was among the most noble and dignified creatures to walk the earth. But I’ll try. I think I’m down to about 2 minutes and 45 seconds now.
Although he never admitted it, my father had an uninspired childhood. While he only talked about it rarely, I’ll share these two highlights: his parents once forgot to pick him up at camp, and the only dog he ever had ran away. Unfortunately, there were no good stories to balance these out, the stories of familial love and togetherness that most of us take for granted. Add to this that my father battled a stuttering problem and that, judging from available photos, he started to lose his hair at about the age of 8. When his mom and dad divorced when he was about 17, each told him to forget about the other, or else.
So, knowing all this, what sort of chances would you give this young man to make something of himself? I’ve put myself in my father’s shoes many times, and when I play it out, I invariably wind up in a fetal position somewhere. You see, I know how to feel sorry for myself. My father, for better or worse, did not.
Faced with the knowledge that no one really cared whether he succeeded or failed, my father developed faith. Faith in God, faith in his country, faith in hard work. My father developed an understanding of the way the world worked, and he expected nothing from it, but set about extracting all he wanted from it. All that had been denied to him so far.
So it was as an assistant manager in an Elizabeth bank that he decided to take a chance at selling insurance after being approached by some friends. I’ve often wondered why, way back in 1962, these men sought out Robert Allen Pankuck to sell insurance. And then I think: perhaps they saw what we now know.
He met my mother. During their courtship, he rented a room in Union, a result of his desire not to play favorites with his now divorced but still feuding parents. The room had no lock, and each night he would put a chair up against the door to guard against intruders.
They got married, and Lisa followed 9 months later. They moved into an apartment in Elizabeth as he learned the insurance business. He went through basic training at Fort Dix, and watched the drawings each week to see if he was going to Vietnam. The friends he made during that time are still friends now.
I arrived, and shortly thereafter, they bought a house in Union NJ. Both of his parents grew ill and died within months of each other, and he went back and forth between their hospitals, in all likelihood not telling each that he was visiting the other. I remember him sitting on the couch in our living room in Union and telling me that Pop had died, and it was the first time I saw my father cry.
The family grew. Laurie, then Tara. My father declared war on his stutter, and we all remember the sound of him repeating difficult phrases into a tape recorder as we fell asleep at night. He would pitch me balls and allow me to hit them over the trees into Rahway Avenue, where we lived. And I remember more than anything him turning after each hit, feigning shock at how far I’d hit the ball. He would go, unlock the gate, look both ways, cross the street, retrieve the ball, and return. Repeat.
We moved to Berkeley Heights, to a house that cost the staggering sum of 165,000. My father said he had diarrhea for a week prior to signing the papers. The house was humongous. It had a two car garage. The young man from Union NJ had arrived.
But Dad never lived like he had arrived. He really didn’t know how to let go, to spend frivolously. Like so many of his generation, he grew wealthy but lived modestly. When things don’t come easy, they don’t go easy either.
And that’s the father I knew until I was about 21: a hard-working, driven man who only wanted to provide for his family. His relationship with his children was good, but I don’t think anyone would have called it warm. I think, when you consider the upbringing my father had, there was quite a bit of on-the-job training with us.
And then, almost just like that, he changed.
I can’t pinpoint it. I don’t know if there was some event in my father’s life that changed him. But I do know that he began to change. The stoic man that we all knew grew soft and reflective. He would tear up during sporting events or movies, and we would all uncomfortably shift and look away. What’s gotten into Dad?
And he began to develop deeper relationships with his wife and his children. He went from being my father to being my best friend. And when it was that I needed help, needed him to understand a weakness that I had, he rose to the occasion. You see, my father always remained teachable. He never took for granted that his perception of any given situation was correct. He was willing to listen, and would change his opinion based on the facts. Case in point: Dad voted for Ralph Nader in the last election.
When we told our daughters that Poppy had died, Grace said rather quietly, “It feels different.” Indeed. My father’s absence is profound and deafening, and if you patiently waited in line at the wake yesterday, you understand why.
There are people who find something within themselves and rise above their circumstances. They do not blame, they do not point fingers, they don’t make excuses. They just do. They wake up and set about the business of living fully accountable lives, they work hard, they try to do right by those around them, and they sleep peacefully. This was my father.

Potfry on June 20, 2010 at 11:27 AM

Great piece doc. I honor my father today who is a person of great character and generosity. I love you, Dad.

AltTuning on June 20, 2010 at 11:28 AM

Best Father’s Day song ever:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l71KAY0FBcI

Del Dolemonte on June 20, 2010 at 11:31 AM

Not a hero?
He started working at age 11 to help the family.
Left home to become a lumberjack at 16 sent 80% of the money home.
Joined the Army at 17.
OCS,North Africa,Italy,Germany.
ASA after the war, Retired Lt Col.
Never whined or complained about anything.
Went to work everyday, provided for his family instilled a sense of worth to his children.
Passed 4 years ago and I still miss him.
Hero? YES, to me.
THANKS DAD!

faol on June 20, 2010 at 11:38 AM

On Father’s Day, Obama praises ‘two-father’ families…

Drudge

artist on June 20, 2010 at 11:51 AM

I have one of the good ones. Worked harder than anyone I’ve ever known. Honest in business, charitable to everyone in need. Freely gave as hard as he worked, and spent hours upon hours talking to me as an adult even when I was just a kid. That is what I’ll forever be grateful for: my father taking me seriously, never relegating me to “being a child”. He’s now my best friend as well as my coworker. Happy father’s day, pop. And great post as always, Doc.

Weight of Glory on June 20, 2010 at 11:53 AM

Thanks, Doc. You reminded me that maybe I did do something right along the way, despite a 40-year onslaught of media depictions to the contrary. You identified the common thread that sews all our life’s decisions into the garment we’ve chosen to wear at the end.

I hope all of us Dads here can look today with pride upon the children we’ve raised to take our place in this world. You Dads with progeny who’ve chosen the military way of life, I’m especially grateful to, because you’ve already instilled in them the honor that grants us all the liberty we still enjoy, as the great Doc Zero points out. Thankfully, my self-reliant and self-sufficient sons (now 20 and 23) are far, far better men than I ever was was at that age, and I rest easy at night knowing that their contributions to our world will be much greater than mine.

But I suffer a bit of exquisite irony though, and I suspect a few other Dads here do too. Although I selfishly miss being a “Dad”, now that my young sons are away, busily making their own lives and providing very well for themselves now. They’ve gone out way too soon for me and I miss them terribly, but their independence from me is my greatest success as a Dad. Happy Father’s Day, guys!

Fishoutofwater on June 20, 2010 at 11:59 AM

On Father’s Day, Obama praises ‘two-father’ families…

Drudge

artist on June 20, 2010 at 11:51 AM

Good, glad to see that noted here. Leave it to the Community Organizer Agitator in Chief, this Alinsky clone to twist Father’s Day into some kind tribute to his radical leftist agenda.

petefrt on June 20, 2010 at 12:05 PM

Happy Father’s Day to all you HotAir daddies!

Sekhmet on June 20, 2010 at 12:13 PM

I’ve done many things in life.

Nothing was more important to me, or more dear to me, than trying to be a good father. It was my best role, and none other will ever touch it.

Ragspierre on June 20, 2010 at 12:26 PM

Here’s to all the dads who can’t be with their kids today because they’re wearing their uniform instead of their childrens’ hugs.

Abelard on June 20, 2010 at 12:29 PM

Nurturing families come in many forms, and children may be raised by a father and mother, a single father, two fathers, a step father, a grandfather, or caring guardian,” -Obooba’s Father’s Day shoutout.

Three father families are said to be preparing a nasty letter to the WH.

Akzed on June 20, 2010 at 12:38 PM

Akzed on June 20, 2010 at 12:38 PM

I’m feeling unusually charitable today (maybe Potfry’s eulogy softened me up a bit) so I’d like to point out that Obama himself had two fathers, his biological father and his adoptive father. It’s possible that he was referring to kids in his situation rather than sufferers of chronic vaginophobia.

Darth Executor on June 20, 2010 at 12:52 PM

A good father reveals the nature of honor to his sons and daughters through his conduct.

That whole paragraph is golden, Doc.

I am blessed beyond belief to have married a man like this. I will read this to him today…your words have power and poignancy. No writer could ask for more, methinks.

God bless you this Father’s Day, Doc.

Grace_is_sufficient on June 20, 2010 at 12:55 PM

I’m feeling unusually charitable today (maybe Potfry’s eulogy softened me up a bit) so I’d like to point out that Obama himself had two fathers, his biological father and his adoptive father. It’s possible that he was referring to kids in his situation rather than sufferers of chronic vaginophobia. Darth Executor on June 20, 2010 at 12:52 PM

No, he mentioned step-fathers. This was a sop to two sodomists raising children, a situation that should be illegal, not honored.

Akzed on June 20, 2010 at 1:06 PM

This should be read from every pulpit in the land today. +100000000 Doc, I cry with joy. You are the master wordsmith – you just beat Robert A Heinlein in my book.

Who is John Galt on June 20, 2010 at 1:27 PM

Potfry on June 20, 2010 at 11:27 AM

Thank you for this! I am honored that you share your father with us today. This is as good and well written as Doc’s piece. It stirred my emotions.

Thank you Doc for a wonderful piece that brought out so much from this great group of posters.

Thank you all Fathers, not just today but every day!

sweet pea on June 20, 2010 at 1:35 PM

Honor your father and mother.

It’s not just a good idea.

Mojave Mark on June 20, 2010 at 1:47 PM

Many years ago I found this old yellow piece of newspaper in my Great Grandmother’s trunk. I had to make copies to preserve it. This is the day I share it.

To all the great dads out there.
Happy Father’s Day!

UNTITLED

I used to wonder why my Dad, Should lack the things that others had.
Why he could never get away, and take an honest holiday.
Why he seldom found the movies fun, And once fell sound asleep in one.
Why our old car he held so dear, When neighbors swappped theirs in each year. I wondered why his shoulders drooped, And why it made him puff to stoop. Why he could never have things new, And why his hands more toilworn grew. But most of all I wondered why, The merry twinkle in his eye,
Whene’er his glance would fall on me, Should gayer, merrier seem to be.
Why with so much to make him sad, A merry smile he always had.

But now I know why my Dad was bent, Why all his money freely spent
On others. Why his clothes were old, Why faithful in the storm or cold,
He labored. Why his hands were tough, And why his cheek was often rough.
Why his work and daily life, Contained so much of ill and strife.
I know he did these things for me. That I might better fare than he.
His hands were toilworn for my sake, That I might of his love partake.
He feared no toil nor circumstance, That gave his boy a better chance.
And my own life has helped to place, Each wrinkle in his kindly face.
And all I am or may become, Is fruit of things that Dad has done.

Ah, yes, I now know why my Dad, Dispensed with things that others had.
He might have better fared had he, More selfish been cared less for me.
He might have shirked without restraint, Or of his lot made loud complaint.
Or in a quest for sympathy, Extolled the things he did for me.
Yet as a boy I never knew, The things for me my Dad went through.
Today his graying locks become, A silver badge of duty done.
And now I do not wonder why, The merry twinkle in his eye,
Should deeper, merrier, seem to be, When e’re his glance encounters me.
For since I have a little lad, I better understand my Dad.
C. C

sweet pea on June 20, 2010 at 1:52 PM

Del, thanks for the Chet Atkins song – it’s beautiful! Happy Father’s Day to all Dads, especially my own excellent Dad. You are necessary in ways that a corrupt culture will never understand!

MochaLite on June 20, 2010 at 2:28 PM

Lovely meditation, Doc. Dads rule!

J.E. Dyer on June 20, 2010 at 3:11 PM

Thank you, Doc and thank you to the fathers who are honorable men. You have my respect and admiration.

redslippers on June 20, 2010 at 4:02 PM

What a wonderful post. Thank you!

INC on June 20, 2010 at 4:42 PM

Potfry on June 20, 2010 at 11:27 AM

No words but…thank you!

baldilocks on June 20, 2010 at 4:55 PM

My father was a towering figure in my life, as many sons can attest about their own fathers. He was a Navy veteran of Korea and beyond, and was shot down with his Aircrew over Korea. He carried the wounded pilot and led the Navigator to American lines, fighting with side arms the whole way.

He carved out a life with my mother over 55 years, raising seven children along the way. He is now a grandfather to 16 and a great-grandfather to 13. His grandchildren and greatgrandchildren see him as this really funny, kind, considerate man who makes them laugh.

I remember the guy who taught me how to be a man: that words like duty, honor, family, community and country were hallowed. That your word was your absolute bond. That adversity brought out the character in people; it was not an excuse to gain pity. That the route to manhood was through the heart and the head, and not the arm.

I have tried to live a life that would make my father proud. Not because I want him to be proud of me, or that I’m afraid he doesn’t love me enough. It’s because I respect his values and want to see them continue, and to make them my own.

Here’s to you Dad.

Bigurn on June 20, 2010 at 5:13 PM

Happy Fathers Day to all H/A and reading visitors.

Doctor Zero,another verbal masterpiece,I have yet to meet
my father,however,I was raised by my grandfather,and then
my Mom married a great guy,and after I felt secure and
happy,he passed with a brain tumor,my Mom fell apart,and
I was back at my grandfathers home,well,years past and I
married my girlfriend from High school,who endured a bitter
divorce of her parents,well we married back in 1980,have 2
boys and 1 girl,and to this day,we are together,happily!

Strange how life goes,again thank-you Doctor Zero!:)

canopfor on June 20, 2010 at 5:30 PM

Hand salute Doc, and

To All the honorable Fathers,
past and present, thanks for
our country, and the values
that Old Glory still represents.

“Let’s Roll”

On Watch on June 20, 2010 at 6:35 PM

Honor is also a gesture of respect we offer to ourselves, because we have faith that we can succeed without deceit and savagery. If you truly respect yourself, you believe you can win without cheating.

Eloquent and pertinent, as always. I love Doc Zero’s prose.

Disturb the Universe on June 20, 2010 at 11:17 AM

Agreed. And I love Doctor Zero’s wisdom.

My own dad, one of the Greatest Generation who himself lost his own father when Dad was only eight years old, died four years ago in early June. His heart attack took all of us in the family by surprise. The special Father’s Day card that I had selected for him that year had to be tucked into his coffin. I miss him dearly.

At NRO’s “The Corner” the staff posted Marco Rubio’s Father’s Day sentiments, which are a most worthy tribute to his dad and the vital role that all dads play in their family’s lives.

Men of honor, I salute you.

onlineanalyst on June 20, 2010 at 7:31 PM

Potfry on June 20, 2010 at 11:27 AM

I am glad that I took the time to read your eulogy to your dad. What a wonderful tribute to a wonderful father.

onlineanalyst on June 20, 2010 at 7:41 PM

The church we’re attending is doing a series called Manmade, about the real nature of manhood and its rightful place and role. Never demeaning or belittling women, the last two sermons have been totally inspiring and right in line with what the good Doctor Zero has written.

http://liquidchurch.com/uploads/ManMade.html

I salute all good fathers and all the men who act as fathers. We need more of you. Please stand firm and raise the banner of true manhood high.

Mommynator on June 20, 2010 at 7:43 PM

Well said, Doc.

Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers at HA.

ladyingray on June 20, 2010 at 10:57 AM

Ditto!!

Khun Joe on June 20, 2010 at 8:08 PM

Scott Johnson over at powerlineblog offers a positive message on this day of honoring our fathers.
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2010/06/026571.php

onlineanalyst on June 20, 2010 at 8:25 PM

Doc, thanks for a wonderful read on Father’s Day. Much food for thought.

Splashman on June 20, 2010 at 9:00 PM

If only more men acted as men in this country of ours. If there were more men, we wouldn’t have girls out fighting our wars. If there were more men, we wouldn’t have the leadership void we currently have among the political parties. If there were more men, we wouldn’t have the education problems we have, because they would take ownership of the education of their children away from the state. If there were more men, we would not have the problems we do in the church, for they would be their own family’s shepherd first and foremost. If there were more men, we wouldn’t have such a screwed up culture, for they are the guardians of it. If there were more men, we wouldn’t have as many broken homes and marriages, for they take responsibility for them. If there were more men, we wouldn’t have so many derelict children, for they would truly be fathers. So yes, happy father’s day, to those men who are true fathers.

Send_Me on June 20, 2010 at 9:40 PM

Send_Me on June 20, 2010 at 9:40 PM

Beautifully said.

DrMagnolias on June 21, 2010 at 7:13 AM

Our President’s father took off on him and look how He turned out!

IlikedAUH2O on June 21, 2010 at 8:53 AM