Thursday, May 20, 2010

Unpolished Thoughts on Fatherhood

As I have often heard it said, every man needs a damsel to protect and a battle to win.  It is hardwired into them, a part of what it means to be a man. Men are supposed to be protectors, supporters, and providers.  For every man, the idea of sacrificing his life for the sake of his bride should be attractive.  There is a reason men like movies about war, knights, and epic conquests.  This is the reason boys read comics about Batman, Spiderman, and Superman.  This is the reason why the song, Impossible Dream, is meaningful.  This is why men admire strength, courage, integrity, nobility, and sacrifice.  This is why men are moved by the stories of William Tell, St. Thomas More, St. Sebastian, and Hector.

Just as these things are true of men, so too is it true that men are supposed to want to be fathers.  In fatherhood, they practice the virtues they admire in the great heroes of western culture.  However, the ugly reality of original sin has so corrupted men that in place of the virtues they so often admire in others, they find in themselves greed, selfishness, fear, and cowardice.  These are the vices from which they claim, "I don't want to be a father," and drive them to preoccupy themselves with various schemes that will provide them with frequent sexual congress without the consequent wife and offspring.  In doing so, instead of saving, they destroy.  Rather than strength, they demonstrate incredible weakness.  Rather than noble, they show themselves to be the most base of men.  Instead of heroes, they become villains.

That is the ugliness of sin; men know what they really want - virtue, heroism, sacrifice - but they content themselves with something inferior because it is easier, less costly, and more immediately satisfying.  Peter Parker's Aunt May seems to grasp this reality in all it's depth:

Henry knows a hero when he sees one. Too few characters out there, flying around like that saving old girls like me. And Lord knows, kids like Henry need a hero—courageous, self-sacrificing people setting examples for all of us. Everybody loves a hero. People line up for them…cheer them...scream their names. And years later, they’ll tell how they stood in the rain for hours just to get a glimpse of the one who taught them to hold on a second longer. I believe there’s a hero in all of us…that keeps us honest…gives us strength…makes us noble…and finally allows us to die with pride, even though sometimes we have to be steady and give up the thing we want the most – even our dreams. Spider-Man did that for Henry and he wonders where he’s gone. He needs him.
Step up men.  It is time to be a hero.


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