In reading Tolkien’s Silmarillion, I noticed something interesting. Most people in that book, especially the Men, are fiercely proud of their heritage, and identify strongly with their fathers, especially. The sentiment is reciprocated by others as well, who will think someone worthy simply because they knew their father. At first, this concept seemed foreign to me, but as I thought about it, I realized that there hasn’t always been such a separation of identity, and I realized why we’ve moved so towards such a separation.
In today’s society, family, fathers included, are often not worth mentioning. The fact that you had one, once, is an understood, and no one cares, provided that you’re a good person. This is because of the prevalence of sin in familial relationships, from divorces to simple “bad parents.” People don’t make themselves worthy of being recognized, so they are not, and sinful fathers make themselves an embarassment to their children.
In the past, I had always taken great pride in my strong family. My siblings and I were generally well behaved and gifted, and loved our parents, who loved us as they loved each other. Both my dad and my mom were incredible influences throughout my childhood, and without them, I’ve always known I would be much less than I am. That pride was shattered when my mom left my dad, and since then, I’ve been left wondering some, on both sides.
Therefore, I would now like to say that I am proud, very proud, to be my father’s son. He is a good man, a strong man, and deserves more for his works than this life has given him. I will not feel shame at being the son of Theodore Wilkinson, and would be honored to stand by him in any battle, be it of this world or of the spirit. At the same time, I am also glad I am my mother’s son. Even though the amount of pride in her I’ve lost is likely immeasurable, and even though she has disappointed me, the woman she was and the woman she is are not wholly different, and I love her still for the things she’s done, and still does, for me, and I would fight for her to keep her safe.
And I know my father still would, too.
I can say that I am proud of my father as well. It is unfortunate that our culture has become uncomfortable lineage and pride in our fathers.
(Disclaimer: I’m not a social scientist by any means, so what follow are simply my ideas, musings, and things to consider and discuss.)
“[…]This is because of the prevalence of sin in familial relationships[…]”
It seems to me that it has more to do with the prevalence of individualism in our society at large. Life is all about “making it big,” whether in acting, sports, politics, or any other field. The goal is to be “loved” (i.e. “idolized”), not to have loving and meaningful relationships. Parents are important only insofar as they give you the money to get started and the connections to get into the right circles.
Of course, this rampant individualism could very well have come about because of sinful, flawed, “dysfunctional” families. As has been mentioned, human stupidity and sinfulness are the ultimate sources of all our woes.
Nit-picking aside, I agree with you that a strong family is indeed something to be proud of. I have been blessed with a wonderful one, and it always breaks my heart when I hear stories of “messed up” families. If we needed any more evidence that humans are not inherently good, I think those stories would qualify.
An excellent point, Martinez. Your second paragraph, really, is my answer to your first. Rampant individualism, I would suggest, is a testament to sin of all forms, not only within the context of relations, but to pride, greed, covetousness.
Another note, in answer to your statement “The goal is to be ‘loved’…”, that is likely the end result of a lack of meaningful relationship not only with other humans, but with God. John Elderidge makes an excellent case for why both men and women pursue such idolization in his book Wild at Heart. He says, in a nutshell, that God’s design of humans causes us all to want attention in various ways, and that the only way to have that desire perfectly satisfied, since humans are now imperfect, is through Him. Wanting for that perfect relationship with another, people resort to “short-cuts,” be it through sexual pleasures, “macho-ism,” or what have you. In addition, relational problems are self-propagating: if a father has relational problems with his son, his son is likely to have relational problems with his wife and children, and so on down the line, exponentially increasing the problem.