It’s a little known fact that this previous Tuesday, May 19, 2015 marked the ten year anniversary of my father’s death. This year it hit me particularly hard. I fell off the wagon with sodas and training, telling myself this Sunday I would get back on it, and since about Monday have just had a general feeling of malaise. I tried putting my finger on it, because I think about my father on a daily basis, and even both of my grandfathers on a frequent basis. What was really bothering me was not that he couldn’t be here to see what type of man my son is becoming, or the young woman my daughter is becoming, what was really bothering me was I was realizing, it’s not even close to the same world my father left 10 years ago. Most of my father’s philosophy has been abandoned, and like Captain America in Avengers Disassembled, we have failed him. He hasn’t failed us.
What do I mean by that? I think of a lot of things when I think about my father, but the thing I think about the most is my father was a great unifier, he was not a divider. This was some innate, God given ability he had. Like the Steve Rogers Captain America, he made people want to be great. My father was a teacher and his teachings were to strengthen individuals. I don’t delude myself and think my father and I, if he were here, would agree about everything politically and morally but we would agree that what use to make America great, the greatest country in the world, was the ability of individuals to come together and be strong, but still be individuals. Over the past decade that is gone in America. We are rushing at a frantic pace to be like every other country on the face of the planet. We don’t want to be the beacon of hope and freedom and the place where you can be an individual and succeed. We want to be Europe West.
How is this happening? We have reached a dark point in our history. We have reached the point where division sells, it sells good. People have allowed “leaders” to manipulate them into clusters for those same “leaders” power. It’s no loss of irony to me that post-racial America is more racist than when I was my son’s age. And yes, I am going to say it, it isn’t all white heterosexual males fault. It isn’t all white people perpetuating racism. But race isn’t the only divisional factor in this country. Everything is sold as a divisive factor. Look at how “Christians” act about Christmas. I get so so so tired of hearing “I can’t say Merry Christmas.” Of course you can, but you don’t since your “leaders” say you can’t, whom you follow them as blindly as the sheep on the other side you chastise. I now say “Merry Christmas.” I have yet to offend someone and if I have do I really care? Nope. I am wishing you good will in the belief set I believe. It’s a kind gesture. Period, end of sentence. And that is how America used to be, before the dividers and one-worlders got their hands on America. Back when my father was here and someone could be Captain America.
How do we correct this? That is the part that really bothers me, that is the part probably giving me an ulcer or future cancer or something God awful. It bothers me because I wonder if it can happen. We go back, because maybe this change hasn’t been good. I think of a time for seven months I was a Vegan. Dedicated and true, I weighed less than I did at community college. I saw a friend at his daughter’s wedding whom I hadn’t seen in years; he and I had a private talk. He said, “You are thinner than I have ever seen you. You look awful.” Now, I am not attacking Veganism, but clearly it wasn’t right for me. Why? Because in my mad rush to lose weight (mainly to be smaller on my bike for pedaling and speed), I lost more than I should. That happens. It is the nature of Man. We aren’t gods. In attempting to correct real problems, like racism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism, we destroyed too much.
My best memories of my father were spent at Barrie Day Camp. And I am sure this will give the race-baiters fodder for the destruction of this argument. I can count on one hand the number of times I knowingly saw my father lie, and was cognizant of the fact he was doing it. I saw him lie to his boss’ wife about one of my father’s personnel being late. The boss’ wife said she would fire this man the next time he was late. My father had built a relationship with this man, as he built relationships with all people based on the content of their character. But I am sure there is some community “leader” saying, “There we go he is playing the I’ve had black friends argument.” I have had black friends, and even more importantly I saw my father, my male role model treat black, Jews, homosexuals and even Arabs the exact same way as white heterosexual males. If he liked you, you were golden. And that folks is America, the content of your character, not whether you are a D or an R, or gay or straight, or black or white, or male or female. All those labels do is separate us. My father also used to play lots and lots of records, and they weren’t all good, but I remember a particular John Wayne spoken word album. The Duke says, “I’m an American…..and that says it all.”
Goodbye Cap, I hope we can stop failing you.
Ethan Grayson is a Free State Radio contributor. He can be heard on both the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy and the Free State Happy Hour(though not in May, darn commitments).