My Father’s Day Wish: Save the Children. : ThyBlackMan

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

My Father’s Day Wish: Save the Children.

June 16, 2019 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Relationships, Weekly Columns

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( I had a great Dad.  I think anyone who knew Joe Sewell would heartily agree, he was a wonderful family man.  He taught me so much about being a man – maturity, responsibility, pride and humility – mostly by watching.  When one of us, me or my siblings, would try to tell him something that didn’t square with our actions he would sometimes smile and say, “I can’t hear you, you’re livin’ too loud.”

Being a father has been the great joy of my life and if I could be granted one Father’s Day wish, it would be to end the continuing carnage gun violence is causing in our community.  While mass shootings like the most recent one in Virginia Beach garner more attention, every weekend we recount a grisly toll: fifty shot in Chicago; twenty in Baltimore; fifteen-year-old gunned down in DC; little girl killed by stray bullet while buying ice cream.

All that promise gone.  Perhaps that fifteen-year-old would have gone on to medical school and discovered a cure for some incurable disease, or that little girl would have grown up to be the first female President of the United States or a groundbreaking corporate CEO.  In any case, their unique genius and gifts they could have offered the world are lost.

Several years ago I was to give the welcome address at a ceremony for a new apartment building in Southeast DC.  The night before, a young man had been shot and killed a few blocks away from where I was scheduled to speak.  I was troubled by another young life lost to senseless violence.  So I discarded my prepared remarks and opened with the following:

“Let us teach our sons that manhood, or the quality of manliness, is not determined by the caliber of gun that they carry, but by the caliber of their character and how they carry themselves.  And let us teach our daughters that the path to womanhood is not motherhood, but rather the path to motherhood is womanhood, and any thoughts of having a child while she is yet a child herself are unthinkable.”

A lot of it comes down to parenting.  While single mothers can, and have, done a great job raising children, I believe a boy, especially, needs a man, a father, to help him navigate youth and adolescence into adulthood.  It definitely helped me.  Again, telling is one thing – be honest, be fair, be responsible – but showing is another.  A Confucian proverb says, “I hear and I forget.  I see and I remember.  I do and I understand.”

People rightly call out “toxic masculinity” and it takes us men to show our boys that restraint is not weakness and humility is not fear.  That every perceived affront doesn’t have to be met with the equivalent of World War III: fists flying and guns blazing.  To show them that that’s not manhood at all, but madness borne of insecurity.  By how we treat their mothers, we show our daughters what they should expect in a relationship.  That they are not merely another possession, but a partner in running the household and raising the family.

So much of what is right, and wrong, in our community begins in the home.  Respect, love for learning, sharing and work ethic are among the lessons to be taught there.  These are the things that build strong families who, in turn, build strong communities.  But first, we have to stop the violence.  It’s robbing us of our future by taking away our most precious resource: our children.

There’s no single thing, simple solution, “magic bullet” that will solve this.  It’s about all of us, doing anything we can, whenever we can.  And it ain’t just where you live, it’s how you live too.  We have to do better, be better.  Will we?

Staff Writer; Harry Sewell 

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