Fourteen years ago today, my father passed on.
Seems like yesterday. And centuries ago.
I don’t really know what I would say to him today. But I do know I have a lot of questions, and so, on his anniversary, I would like to have a conversation with him. If I could, here’s what I would ask…
Hey Pop, would you explain this world to me, so I can explain it to my sons? How do I look them in the eye and tell them there is still an American Dream to believe in?
You instilled in me a deep belief in American values: hard work, faith in leadership, and a belief in the potential of this country.
Two out of three ain’t bad.
I still believe in hard work, Pop, and I still deeply believe in the potential of this amazing country, but the leadership, they’ve gone from disappointing us to to downright preying on our jobs, our retirement, our Social Security, our ability to sleep at night. How do I tell my sons it is still worth believing in a country whose leadership aggressively wants to take away the opportunities of its own people? How do I get them to invest their faith in a society so rigged towards the one percent? What would you say to me about such a fixed game?
I think you would tell me that, to more or less of a degree, it has always been this way. Maybe, but it sure feels like it’s gotten worse, and I have sons to answer to for the choices my generation has made.
What I wouldn’t give for the ability to sit across from you, look into your sharp eyes, and see the truth you had for me, or better still, to sit back and watch you have a discussion with my sons. The perspective you would be able to give them would be so valuable, and I believe it’s one of the biggest things that is missing from our society.
Your generation’s beliefs are not represented anymore. You were a Republican Conservative, but I do not think you would recognize your own party, just like old liberals wouldn’t recognize the Democratic Party.
I understand that things have to change, but it was supposed to be an evolution; we were supposed to get better, to grow. That doesn’t seem to be the case. Things just seem to be getting more absurd.
In the face of overwhelming scientific proof of looming catastrophe we really don’t take climate change seriously, and some of us flat out deny its existence after each natural disaster.
We fail to talk together and come up with solutions for the ills of our society, even after each mass shooting.
We actively vote for politicians who clearly do not have our best interests at heart, and fail to tar and feather them when they actively betray us.
And now, here comes the Presidential race. Donald Trump. Ted Cruz. Hillary Clinton. Bernie Sanders. Each of these mostly fictional characters has a spin on the nation’s future that is largely unachievable, and yet we will eventually vote one of them into office during a time when the leadership of this nation really concerns so many of us. I wonder, what would you say about these four, Pop? Would you shake your head and chuckle at me? More and more that’s what I do. But it’s a mirthless chuckle, a dark laugh, because I’m pretty close to handing this world over to my sons; they are 20, in a few months 21, and this world’s gonna be theirs. And it’s gonna belong to my students. What do I tell them, Pop? How do I give them faith?
Maybe that’s something that they have to discover on their own. Maybe that’s why you chuckled at me so often when I was their age, knowing that I had to find my own truth. One of the most generous things you ever did for me was giving me room to figure out some this on my own. You were a trustworthy sounding board and advisor, but you never forced me to think like you did. I get that now. And I am so grateful for that gift.
And even as I write this, a young couple walks past, arm-in-arm, sneaking a kiss, laughing with each other. Maybe that’s where they find their faith. Maybe that’s the best we can hope for; that they each get lucky enough to find someone to go through the journey with, no matter how crazy it gets.
Worked for me.
Sure would be a lot easier with you around.
Still miss you, Pop, every single day.