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November 6, 2008

To continue with my recent election/Obama theme, I cite a NY Times article published yesterday.

The article is about a group of sixth grade boys in a Brooklyn public school which largely consists of low income, black or Hispanic, single parent homes.

The article discusses the hope these boys have with a high profile leader they can relate to.  The president of the foundation funding the school said seeing examples like Obama “raises a level of hope for young men of color who I think have been besieged by a culture of low expectations.” He continues, “Boys will be what they see, and it’s hard for kids to dream about things they’ve never seen.”  Interviews from the students convey a similar feeling.

I can’t help but wonder how much good seeing a distant Obama on a television screen will do.  Is it even a fraction of the good that would be done if these kids could see a father?  This father need not have celebrity status.  A high profile job isn’t necessary.  The ability to deliver eloquent speeches is not required.  Just an average, hard-working, loving father who does what he can to support his wife and children.  Imagine what a difference that would make to these boys and so many like them.

I wish our culture could place the same emphasis on the importance of non-bolting fathers as it does on distant celebrities in sports, entertainment, and now politics.  That may mean positive reinforcement for the good guys.  It may mean shunning to the losers who increasingly leave wife and kids in pursuit of “fun,” “excitement,” and “freedom.”  But I’m increasingly aware of how backwards our priorities as a society are, and how increasingly that’s reflected in the average home.  It’s very saddening.

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