By David Anderson
Batman saving our planet notwithstanding, “a generation without fathers is a generation without moorings.” And thus without superheroes.
What’s in a name? How about the title, role, and name of Batman? Or, though never to be as household a name as 41-year-old Ben Affleck who is slated to be cast as the 8th Dark Knight in the 2015 Warner Bros. release of the “Man of Steel” superhero blockbuster sequel, what about the name of James Johnson of the Chris Lane story?
How about just ‘dear old dad’? Or father? Or husband?
Costumed or not, caped crusaders or not, superpowers or not, dads and fathers and husbands just simply are . . . not.
And because they are not, Chris Lane died.
At least that’s the opinion of Jennifer Oliver O’Connell in her Aug.23 column for “The Washington Times.”
“Twenty-two-year-old Christopher Lane, (was) an Australian attending East Central University on a baseball scholarship. Lane was shot in cold blood by three teenagers because they were ‘bored,’” O’Connell writes.
Another Christopher – 17-year-old Christopher Johnson – might have been a participant in the senseless murder that occurred that day in the parking lot of Immanuel Baptist Church, except for his father James Johnson.
“They threatened to kill my son because they are in a gang, the Crips, and were trying to get my son in it,” Johnson said. “I wouldn’t let him do it. I told him he couldn’t run with those boys.”
Put a superhero cape on James Johnson.
“America has too long ignored the destruction borne from the lack of a strong male influence in the home,” declares O’Connell.
“The slaughter of an innocent young man was perpetrated by fatherless and rudderless youths.”
So where have the dads and fathers gone?
More importantly, why did they leave?
Is the day-to-day responsibility of “tenderly caring for my wife” less glamorous than being a billionaire playboy? Is there more acclaim for laughing at impossibilities while standing atop some gargoyle overlooking Gotham than for going to work each morning in order to save for my kids’ college that would otherwise very likely be impossible? Are “keeping my shoes shined, staying at a task until it is finished, speaking up rather than mumbling” – about which Chuck Swindol writes in his book “Man to Man” – just so much tedium and so many other countless examples of thanklessness I do every day – examples of standard, accepted behavior taught by us and caught by our children often simply by being present – when out there, somewhere, anywhere but here, there is arogues gallery of culprits with which to contend, upon whom justice depends on me to be served?
“A generation without fathers is a generation without moorings,” O’Connell wrote.
And without superheroes.
One of the three teens charged with Chris Lane’s murder appeared for arraignment with his pregnant girlfriend in tow. If the young man is convicted “he may not see his child until it is an adult. This would mean the evil of another fatherless child perpetuates to the next generation,” said O’Connell.
If children are to learn “how to stand alone (if necessary) in support of their personal convictions rather than giving in to more popular opinions” – a sure-fire gang participation prevention strategy – then, as Swindol suggests, such indebtedness will belong “to the man who raised me.”
“If absent fathers are the root of the tree, gangs are some of its bitter fruit. If fathers were actively, lovingly involved in their sons’ and daughters’ lives, gangs would find no one to recruit. Gangs fill the vacuum left by the withered families and ruined communities that are a hallmark of American life.”
Pat Reavy agrees too. Just this past Aug.24 in the “Deseret News,” Reavy wrote an article about the importance of the parents’ role in protecting their children from online sexual predators. Quoting Rod Layton, director of the Weber-Morgan Children’s Justice Center, Reavy writes “If parents do not sit down with their kids and be very, very blunt and straightforward with their kids,” Layton said, then pausing. “Law enforcement doesn’t fix anything. We don’t prevent a single thing. We clean it up.”
So, men – despite the fact that, like Affleck who’s expected to be thrashed by Superman; like Affleck who shouldn’t play Batman because he doesn’t look like Batman; like Affleck who’s taking a lot of flak, even to the extent that “petitions with thousands of signatures were launched to urge Warner Bros. to rethink their decision” given “he’s painfully boring” – you still have a ‘Holy casting role!’ to play: dad and father and husband.
Thrashed by life or not; you, or maybe others, liking you in the part or not; painfully boring though the role be or not, there remain foes to face, floods to stem, villains to conquer, a home – and those within it – to protect.
As with the French who have the proverb, ‘Bonne renommée vaut mieux que ceinture dorée’ – “a good name is the best of all treasures,” so the best of all treasures are the good names: dad, father, and husband.
All synonymous for superhero.
Postscript: This last month of July, according to an investment website, the fact that “investors have been purchasing silver eagles at ratio of 95 to 1 compared to gold eagles” has led venture capitalists to conclude “even though gold is the king monetary metal, the real gains in the future will be made in silver.”
Ummm, silver not so much. Nor gold.
A good name is the best of all treasures – dad, father, and husband the three best of all.
To be honored with hero status; to realize real gains in the future upon which America depends; to be other than a cartoon character – there’s no greater privilege and responsibility that being a dad, father and husband.