As the sun sets on the verdict in Steubenville where 2 young men were convicted of raping a young woman so intoxicated that she could not care for herself, causing the lenses of the national media to be focused on this small Ohio town, it seems like one of those flashpoints in time.
It’s a moment when we as a society can recalibrate, assess the misuse of social media, reflect on a culture that oftentimes accepts or seeks to cover up this type of sexually assaulting behavior, and also ask why none of the young men present failed to step up and stop the horrid conduct.
I watched a short interview of the father of one of the defendants during which he acknowledged his lack of presence in his son’s life. He explained to the interviewer and ostensibly the public that one should be a parent and not a friend to his or her children. The inherent message seemed to be that his absence in some way shape or form helped to sculpt this young man’s destiny and current circumstance.
Of course his absence had something to do with his son’s circumstance.
A lifetime of watching his father each day treating his mother with dignity and respect would have hopefully served as a large and looming corrective voice inside the son’s head on that night, when he decided to take advantage of a helpless female unable to care for herself. A daily dose of watching his father nurture and care for a younger or older sister could likely have been the deterrent that saved this young woman from a night of humiliation, recognizing that he never would want, or tolerate, his own sister being treated in that way.
Our children will make mistakes, sometimes bad ones, even when we are there every day to try to guide them through the example of our own conduct. We increase the odds exponentially of such a calamity occurring when we opt out of their lives and expect them to figure it out on their own, or hope for the surrogate to do a good job in our absence.
The cancer of fatherlessness continues to metastasize into chronic or terminal illness in our society and collective lives on a daily basis. Sadly, it is one of the more treatable forms of allegorical cancer, because there is a cure for the vast majority of those who suffer from it. The cure is for all fathers to be there, no matter how the system, the mother, or your own personal experience with your own father, might tend to discourage you.
Imagine how a father’s love and presence might have sent the lenses of the national media’s cameras in another direction, eliminated a rape victim from the roles, kept two more young men from the stigma and consequence of a rape conviction, or inspired a son to actually pick her up and carry her out of the basement to safety.
We must all strive to be better and not bitter. We must offer prayers and support for those of us who are trying to do it as best we can because there are no guarantees. Furthermore, we must also encourage, support, and pray for those men who seek, or want to seek, direction, inspiration and guidance to try to be better fathers.
Read, learn, and share…Have a Family Meeting!