It’s Father’s Day and I’m still alive this morning…and…I’m still a father. What are the odds? The photo to the left shows a father trying to save his sons from drowning off the coast of the island of Lesbos. He is seeking a better life for his family far away from guns and bombs and general destruction. He is protecting his children. Greece has usurped the lines of our poem, “Give me your tired your poor…” Greece has become the “Golden Door.” We, on the other hand, are arguing, inordinately fearful of these souls yearning to breathe free. Thanks to the Republican nominee, our perceived exceptionalism has taken a hit in the face. Fear is the new inordinate exceptionalism. Sad as it may be. We are drowning in fear. And you know and I know that making decisions based on fear becomes irrational and the decisions made are usually wrong headed.
Recently, on my way back from California I was listening to the Michael Savage (nee Weiner) program of hate, and he made no bones about what he would like the population of this country to be, white of “European descent.” I was shocked for a moment then realized that yeah, that makes sense. He is fearful of becoming a minority of losing power of being “second class.” The rise of the real estate loud mouth with his myopic and fearful views on immigration makes perfect sense in this scenario of fear. It’s obvious that what motivates a lot of people against President Obama is his ethnicity and his “muslim-ness” and throw in that his popularity is growing and you have a perfect example of one of “them” who is not “us”. It must drive some people nuts that Obama doesn’t seem to be selfish or self-serving like our fellow citizen from New York. He was elected twice by the people but still is diminished by Congress (and others) for the nearly 8 years. He is still standing and is a leader.
In a sense we need to be like the father in the picture trying to save this country from drowning in hate and fear. The desperate refugees are knocking on our Golden Door trying to find safety for themselves and their children. They are not from Europe and are therefore suspect. The door is still closed. They profess a religion that doesn’t look like the religion that most of us were brought up in. Another door closer. They are different, they speak a different language and are therefore suspect. English only please! (It’s the language of freedom). No vetting process is perfect and some bad guys are going to be let in as well as the good guys. That is the price we pay for trying to be an open and welcoming society. To simply say “NO” to everyone is unAmerican and antithetical to what we believe in as patriotic Americans.
On this Father’s Day 2016, we need to do some soul searching as we arrive at the crossroads of fear and hope. In the Gospel for today, Jesus asks his disciples “Who do you say that I am?” How do we respond? Who (or what) do people say that we are? You know, and I know that the real estate guy won’t win in November (although stranger things have happened e.g. George W Bush’s reelection). So when the first woman president takes the oath of office in January 2017, will we still be in the pit of fear (when decision making is at its most irrational), or will we, in this new world of ours post 9/11, be stronger because we are able to think. Will we hold on to our citizen children for dear life?
and so it goes…