This Father’s Day, hug your children a little closer

IMG_4625Since having kids more than seven years ago, Father’s Day has taken on new meaning for me. I always appreciated the holiday and enjoyed spending time with my parents and being able to show my own father how I appreciated everything he did for me, all the sacrifices he made for me and my brother. But the Father’s Day holiday has now become one of my favorite days of the year.

Not because I get to kick up my feet, wear old man shirts and flip flops, drink beer in the afternoon while talking to my son about music and get presents — although those are all definitely nice perks. It’s because I know I’ll get to spend some unstructured time with my kids, who will be nice to me, hug me without me asking them and hopefully not say anything nasty to me all day.

There’s something about gaining perspective, taking stock of what truly matters in life and marking something of the cycle of life.

This year, Father’s Day has been tempered by some horrific news.

First was the fatal shooting of nine people, all black, during Bible study in an historic church in Charleston, S.C. by an avowed white supremacist. The assailant reportedly told one of the gunshot victims who survived that he aimed to start a race war. The right’s subsequent attempts to hijack victimhood and assign it to any of their various pet causes is nearly as offensive as the original act, but that’s another story.

Then Detroit, not to be outdone, steps up to the stage with its own guns blazing.

A large summer block party estimated at 300 people Saturday was interrupted with gunfire, killing one and injuring 11. In total, 47 gunshots rang out. People were outside, cooking food, listening to music, children playing, laughing. The police chief called the two men believed responsible “urban terrorists.”

We’re getting to the point in the U.S. where these kinds of things are no longer shocking; gun violence is certainly a regular occurrence in Detroit. With our elected leaders clearly unwilling to lift a finger to restrict the trade of guns in this country, the lesson becomes clear: Life is cheap. Violence is random and can happen anywhere and at any time. Guns (“freedom”) are more important than any mamby-pamby quality of life issues like safety, community or trust.

We cannot live in fear, of course. We must live in love instead, and we must spread it far and wide.

Start with your kids. Hug them tight and appreciate every precious minute you get with them. And please, teach them better.

Happy Father’s Day.

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