To be a Father is not defined by the biology of “fathering” a child. It never has been. In fact, it is even more important that in this “Right Now Moment”, we engage all of our men in the act of Fatherhood. There are so many men who have biologically fathered children, with whom they have absolutely no connection, other than that the child is a result of the simple “act” of procreation. And there are men who have no biological connection to the children they have fathered in every way except for having a biological connection. It is to the latter of these two distinct groups of men that I address this Homage to Fatherhood.
How many men have heroically stepped up and taken on the role of Father, Daddy, Papi, Papa and Dad because they chose to do so? I believe it’s more than we think. Sometimes it is a matter of tragic urgency wherein a father has been taken by death or destruction and an uncle, big brother or other male within the extended family takes on the responsibility to “father” the child or children that are not their own due to the unfortunate circumstances of the moment. However, in many of the cases that I have witnessed, it is the man whose love for a woman who already has a child from a previous relationship that compels him to kindle within his heart a love for this little person that grows in his spirit and ignites an unspeakable kind of love. It is a love that truly inspires a type of responsibility to step into the role of fatherhood and the act of fathering as if called to do so.
To be a Father in the truest sense of the word is a “Calling” of sorts. Let’s be honest. There are many people who are not in any way suited to being parents whether men, women or non-gender conforming people. Putting the needs of others in front of your own needs is of the utmost importance when considering whether or not you are suited to be a father or a mother. However, whether or not you are biologically connected to the child is not the determining factor. To love, cherish, teach, nurture and raise another human being up to be a self-assured, well-rounded and independent contributing member of society is an awesome responsibility with a lifetime commitment and should not be entered into carelessly or without a thorough assessment of one’s ability to fulfill the commitment. It is one of the most important commitments you can make to the child, to the family, to the community and, ultimately, to the world.
This homage is to all of the men who have chosen to be present, active and engaged in their role as Fathers. We acknowledge you and how important you are to those of us who have been raised by you, loved by you, disciplined by you, inspired by you and whose example we are privileged and proud to follow. To all of our community Fathers who unselfishly share your time, passion, treasure and knowledge with the children who do not have a Father in residence with them at home, we pay tribute to you especially on this Father’s Day. You have stepped up to meet the urgency of the moment, filled in the gap and become the Fathers that our children desperately need. When their very lives are being threatened by everything from the school to prison pipeline to global warming and gun violence at school and in the community, the children need to know they have a Father who STANDS UP just for them.