Father's Day

Father's Day:

Today is Father's Day. I want to tell you about a man I know, a friend of mine who is a very good father. He is also a Commander in the US Navy Reserves, an officer and a gentleman.

He and his wife have two children who are both special-needs. The bills associated with them, even with the kind of insurance and help that you get as a member of the military, have run to over a million dollars. Though an officer in the US Navy is reasonably well-paid, he is not nearly so well-paid as to have a million dollars in savings. So he signed whatever he had to sign to take care of his kids, and took the debt -- as well as the responsibility for their future care -- onto his shoulders.

He already knows how he will be spending the rest of his life: working hard to try to earn enough to pay off what he owes, so that when he dies the banks can seize and sell off the rest. No matter how hard he works, he will likely never accumulate enough to pay off the debt for his children.

We talk about people walking away from their mortgages -- or their families, or their kids -- in pursuit of personal pleasure or advantage. It's worth remembering just what the cost is for the man who does it right. It is a life of hard work, responsibility, and self-sacrifice, in return for nothing except the smiles of your children and the sense of having done what was right.

I am proud to call this man my friend, but there is a reason we don't see more of him. Our world, with its abundant pleasures, has accepted pleasure as the rule: the unlimited sexualization of our public space has driven all objections to its continual march aside; marriage is to be valued chiefly as a contract between two parties seeking pleasure from it, to be dissolved as soon as it is no longer pleasurable; children are to be welcomed only when they are wanted and without special needs, otherwise tidily aborted. All of this makes it possible to live a very easy life, filled with pleasures, each responsibility shrugged off as soon as it becomes noisome.

The good father does otherwise. His life is harder and filled with far less of this pleasure that rules other lives. What he gets in return is hard to say; but it is clearly true that rational man, economic man, would not make the choice. It is honor -- for honor is sacrifice -- that commands it.

Thus we owe good fathers a very great deal of honor. I doubt most of them get it. A nation that has forgotten how to pay every other kind of debt is likely to forget this one too. Nevertheless, gentlemen, I salute you.

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