On Father’s Day, Pray for Peace and Work for Justice

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father's day

“Of all the rocks upon which we build our lives, we are reminded today that family is the most important. And we are called to recognize and honor how critical every father is to that foundation. They are teachers and coaches. They are mentors and role models. They are examples of success and the men who constantly push us toward it.” – President Barack Obama

To become a parent, it is often said, is to allow your heart to go walking around outside your body.

In many ways, the essence of fatherhood is protection. As fathers, our most basic instinct is to protect our children. As children, our fathers are the ones we seek when we ourselves need protection.  That responsibility weighs especially heavily for Black fathers in a time when divisive rhetoric seems out of control and the threat of violence looms heavily over our communities.

These fears are not unique to our generation, however.  And because we cannot change the world to oblige our children, we must raise our children to navigate this world.

There are as many theories about raising strong, capable and well-adjusted children as there are parents. “Tough love,” “helicoptering,” “free range” … but one thing matters above all else – that children know they are loved.  As the theme of a popular adoption campaign goes: You don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent.

I was fortunate to have a father who is a hero and role model, not only for my brother and sisters and myself, but for the city he served as mayor, judge, and civil rights trailblazer. It is his example I strive to follow a civil rights leader and – more importantly – as a father. But make no mistake, as fathers, do as much to shape the future by reading a bedtime story or helping with homework as we do testifying before Congress or presiding over a courtroom.

For the second year in a row, we celebrate Father’s Day in the wake of senseless tragedy as we mourn the 50 souls who were lost in the hateful mass shooting in Orlando on Sunday. Last year, Father’s Day was marred by the racially-inspired murders at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.

It is our responsibility as fathers, as sons, and as brothers to rise up against the intolerance that fuels this violence, to quell the angry rhetoric that spurs it on, and to cut off the easy access to high-powered weaponry that enables it.  As Pope Paul VI – Il Papa, the Holy Father, said, “If you want peace, work for justice.”

I wish a blessed and happy Father’s Day to all families. Let us cherish our parents, our grandparents, our children and grandchildren, and give thanks the love we are so fortunate to share.