By John W. Fountain
It takes a father. We must reclaim, revive, rebuild, and restore the village: One child, one father, one family at a time. For the village is broken, deeply broken.
Shattered, it lies in ruins—spiritually, morally, socially. Our communities breathe on life support. Children murder children. And a generation sits complicit and largely silent, our heads buried in sinking sand.
We routinely bury our young, slain in an increasingly vicious “village” filled with gunfire that rises as surely as the morning sun and the wail of grieving mothers. A village whose streets flow with too much blood, with too many tears. And yet, not with enough outrage, conviction, resolve.
Not with enough faithful, functioning, full-proof fathers.
A village where broken schools, broken churches, and broken systems are a reflection of the deep brokenness of that which makes any village strong: Family.
Missing from the familial nucleus are fathers. Far too many are imprisoned, or else have become abandoners, emotionally disconnected, MIA. Too many are invisible, deadbeat, incapacitated and impotent. Too many by choice have unplugged. Too many lay prematurely in their graves. And yet, it takes a father.
An estimated 24.7 million children (one-third) in America, according to the U.S. Census, live in homes absent their biological father. It is clear from studies that children without positive paternal influences are more likely to be poor, to use drugs, to experience educational and behavioral problems…
Good fathers—whether stepfathers, coaches, pastors or mentors—can have a powerful positive impact on a child’s life. National and also local initiatives reflect at their core their belief in the vital influence of male role models on a kid¹s life, on the lifeblood of a community.
We need more fathers. It takes a father.
I thought about this amid news days ago of a 14-year-old girl accused of shooting to death another Endia Martin, 14. The alleged shooter’s paralyzed uncle, police say, furnished the .38 revolver used in the slaying.
I can’t imagine a good and loving uncle—mentor or father—ever doing that.
For real fathers are producers, protectors, providers. Fathers are affirmers, dream builders, sound counselors.
Fathers are a daughter¹s first love. A son’s model of manhood. Fathers show up. Keep their promises.
Fathers understand that as men we have no calling greater than fathering our own children. None more encompassing. None more challenging.
That calling is not contingent upon whether our relationships with the mother of our children endure, neither on what new love, opportunity, challenge, or hardship arises in our lives as the world turns.
I am convinced that “fatherhood” must be at the heart of any discussion about healing our communities. That we must now embrace the critical role of fathers. That we must encourage those men who have fallen down on the job, or else have completely failed, to seek to redeem, restore and renew their calling as fathers.
That we must forgive them, and begin to rebuild the village from within, forging ahead with men who are committed to being better fathers.
I am also aware that in these times the role of men as fathers is sometimes belittled and devalued. That too many men are demeaned or emasculated by some who are quick to shout, “It takes a village!”
But where, I ask, will the village be without fathers?