Growing up, I always knew three things:
- Wearing a gray shirt washed me out (I would proclaim this as a “fashion conscious” and unapologetically precocious 7 year old)
- We had to go to church on Sunday.
- My father was a good man.
Those were mainstays in my life. How those things morphed into a life threatening case of anorexia is beyond me, but that’s not what this post is about.
Growing up in the suburbs of Ohio in the nineties, things were pretty…normal. (Well, aside from a professional acting career.) But I played in the woods, listened to Hanson, had sleepovers, and never had anything to worry or be afraid of.
Every night, when my dad would come home from work, we would always play this game: I would always hide underneath the kitchen table, and he’d pretend to not know where I was. And then I’d pop out and he’d be so excited and happy to see me. Looking back, I just remember feeling so delighted in. So loved. Cherished, in every sense of the word.
He was (and is) a good man.
This election has brought about a lot of ugliness on both sides. A lot of name calling. Gross generalizations. I’ve written about it. You’ve commented on it. Okay. No need to rehash.
But if there’s one thing that really saddens me, is the rhetoric about white males – we don’t have to go into detail, but it rhymes with shmeshoginistic, shmomaphobic, and shmite shupremecist.
And I’m going to be really honest, last night, I cried myself to sleep thinking about how my father must feel, having all these horrendous names and gross generalizations being tossed around about, in particular, white, Christian males from the Midwest. And how, he just has to take it.
So instead of making this political or defensive or anything like that, I wanted to honor my father, and share a few lessons that he’s taught me.
Growing up, my family never discussed finances. But we did discuss charity. And the importance of it.
It was never seen as something to be dreaded or an obligation, but rather, a joy. A opportunity to share God’s love through the resources we’ve been entrusted with. I remember growing up he funded a “tin roof” village in Nicaragua, he built a well that supplied fresh and clean water to a community in Guatemala, he *secretly* paid the salary of a worker at our church, financially supported missionaries, gave of his time for free on the executive boards of charities and pregnancy centers. Giving was in his blood. Never a burden. Always a joy.
And he instilled that in his family. My brother spent a year after college volunteering with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. My other brother’s life work is providing and creating dignified and individualized home healthcare centers for the elderly. My mom built houses in Nicaragua and gave english lessons to a refugee woman from Afghanistan.
Dear Media: this man is not greedy or a xenophobic bigot.
2) Respect all people, and behave inclusively.
My dad, being the business man that he was, was ahead of his time in how he conducted his company. Back in the early nineties, long before it was “cool,” he would go out of his way to empower women in the workplace and remove any and all “glass ceilings” in the company.
He instilled in my brothers and I that all people, no matter of gender, color of skin, religion, sexual orientation, nationality – every person deserves respect and has an undeniable dignity as a person. There is zero tolerance for anything less than that. Zero.
Dear Media, this man is neither mysognistic or racist.
3) Family first, always.
There was no sporting event, dance recital, play, parent-teacher conference, or family dinner that my dad missed. We joke that he’d literally change clothes in the bushes to make it to my brothers’ football practice after work at the office. (He was their little league assistant coach). He turned down job promotions that would have moved our family to the Philippines, Germany, China. Don’t get me started on the dedication he had to helping me heal from my anorexia and ulcerative colitis.
The man sacrificed his time, his energy, his life, really, for his family.
Dear Media: this man is not a ruthless capitalist.
4) Let your actions do the evangelizing.
Which, hah, I’m realizing that with this blog I’m literally doing the opposite…
My dad never forced his (very strong) religious beliefs upon anyone. He taught us that we should show our love for the Lord in how we treat people. In the words we speak. In the way we respect the poor and disenfranchised. In the way we stand up for the kid in the lunchroom who is being bullied.
So, I guess, consider this post my standing up for my father. Because he, like many other silent but strong men, he hears the jeers, the jabs, the jarring generalizations and stereotypes being perpetuated about white, Christian males, by the mainstream media and uttered by people who are hurt and angry about the outcome of the election.
I understand, emotions are heightened, and there are perceived concerns/fears, but as my father taught me, before one speaks, one should consider a) is it true, b) is it necessary c) is it kind?
Because there are a lot of men having to just take it, because heaven forbid a white male stand up for himself.
He is not any of the ___”ist” words being hurled like grenades. He has spent a lifetime earning his credibility and I’m going to defend the upstanding man who raised me.
Ok, for fear of going “too far” I’m going to sign off here.
I hope this comes across as it was meant.
Here’s to all men of every race, color and creed who exemplify the values that we millennials need to look up to. Thank you for being everyday heroes.
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