Archive for December, 2010

A Cloudy Winter Solstice

December 22, 2010

Why is no one complaining? As I understand it, we just missed the first lunar eclipse in over 300 years to pass over Hawaii that would have landed on the same day as the Winter Solstice. Somebody ought to be shouting, “Who stole our magical moment?”. Yet, all I heard was the lamenting moan of a melancholic teenager. Everyone else was oblivious or deliberately indifferent. When I saw the skies breaking blue today, she groaned, “It’s too late.”

And it all kinda reminds me of a child abduction that happened over ten years ago. No one speaks about it. Cover it with the cloud of ignorance and justify it. But the act cannot be changed. The hurt cannot be undone. For my children, the cloud was manufactured and still hangs over them covering the blue skies and the truth. Someone has stolen the love of a father and replaced it with a lie. And like a cloud, it too shall pass. When they know the truth, will our children be too angry or too sad? Will my children, too, say “It’s too late”?

That mantra could burn in their hearts for a lifetime. Is it better for them to know of the love that I have for them? When the alternative is to damn them to the oblivious and eternally indifferent, the logical and moral choice is to permit the love.

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Happy Birthday!

December 17, 2010

Hope you got the gift and the card. It’s over five years since we talked, laughed and had a good time. You’re young but growing into an adult pretty fast. One day, I hope you realize that you can just pick up the phone and call. With Love, Dad.

Milestones

December 10, 2010

I’ve followed trails as narrow as a rabbit’s path. I’ve coursed multi-lane highways at too far over the speed limit. At each and every moment, the road behind fades and the way ahead beckons. It is a natural thing for us to push our limits and record our accomplishments. The journey is life, but the milestones are markers of self-recognition. Sometimes, the little challenges help us keep perspective on the big.

Are you doing the Marathon? I did the Century Ride, six times now. A hundred miles in the saddle is no small feat. Can’t run, though. My knees are weak. I can’t free-style half the length of a pool and I can’t imagine a triathalon. But a consistent push has helped me pass my personal goal of 4,000 miles this year. And I still have three weeks left. Everybody’s different.

Patricia is well over 6,000 and there are many more bicycle riders who don’t even keep track of their miles here in Hawaii.

We all have our milestones; the accomplishments that really matter. They’re all different and they are the one’s that we have to tell you about; that we want to celebrate and that we want you to join us in this celebration, too.

In our youth, strangely, we celebrate our first pimple. In our old age, we celebrate our ability to get up from the chair. Today, I just want to recognize and celebrate everybody who has achieved a milestone this year.

Hurt the Children

December 9, 2010

By some estimates, the divorce rate in the U.S. is a steady 50%. In some ethnic populations, the incidence of single-parent familes is upwards of 70%. Social factors beyond our control are separating our children from their parents on a national scale. And a large constituency of angry parents are preventing their children from knowing their biological other parent.

As a society, our knowledge is not lacking. Great numbers of people recognize that there is a problem when families break up. Yet, so few people are focused on fixing the problems. Conflict and Escalation are the names of the evil twins who always work together to destroy families from the inside. Anger and Revenge plot to wreck the family as soon as parents are separated. And, Fear controls the conversation from the outside with it’s companion; Ignorance.

As a society, our collective response to family breakup is a non-stop mantra, “Hurt the Children! Hurt the Children! Hurt the Children!” And few stand up to say, “STOP!”

CONFLICT AND ESCALATION
From within the family, conflict is as simple as “I want ketchup, you want mustard.” If there are both, the conflict is resolved. Yet, conflict is often much more complex, as in “I want three children, you want four.” Still, even the most complex conflicts can be resolved. The danger is in escalation.

Though the example is contrived, if you don’t have the money to buy both ketchup and mustard, escalation is the fan on the flame. When we look back at most separated families, there are few conflicts so trivial that haven’t caused major domestic violence. Escalation is always to blame.

Recognizing conflict and creating resolutions is a skill that must be taught and practiced from a very early age and throughout our lives. De-escalation is necessary for survival.

ANGER AND REVENGE
Anger is a reaction to hurt that we feel inside. When we are angry, it’s not impossible to predict what will happen to our children. Anger is a message on a loop inside our mind. It grows as the message loops, like kindling grows a fire. There is one antidote for anger; forgiveness. It’s not enough to forgive the person who hurt. Forgiveness requires that we forgive ourselves for the hurt that we feel. Forgiveness is the only thing that will extinguish the flame of anger.

But, the desire for revenge feeds anger and anger feeds the desire. Revenge transfers hurt from the person who is angry, back to the person who hurt and, like a nuclear blast, onto everyone within the fallout zone. Our children are always in the fallout zone of revenge. Some even confuse justice and revenge. These people often bring their anger into family court looking for “justice.” Most family court settlements are crafted to serve justice and help extinguish revenge, but the vengeful are rarely satisfied. Justice requires forgiveness and there is no judge that can grant or order that.

FEAR AND IGNORANCE
Fear is the next step. Fear knows Ignorance and together they create a disease that eats away at our trust of every person we contact every day and every person we have never yet met. Our collective social conscience is filled with fear and our ignorance makes us believe that there is no remedy for the hurt done to us. We have filled our children with fear and have taught them ignorance without showing them how to undo the hurt.

Fear has stifled the national conversation on domestic violence. Ignorance is the void in which the fires of revenge grow. Those who perpetrate fear are continually pressing for legislation that will punish the persons who have hurt them. We hear about real victims everyday and justice must be served, but too many are simply much better at exploiting ignorance and peddling fear. They call themselves victims and advocates for victims. But, they end up destroying families and hurting our children.

FORGIVENESS
Forgiveness is healing. There is only one antidote to fear, ignorance, revenge, anger and escalation. Alas, should only conflict remain, life would be interesting. Forgiveness is the salve for the hurt we feel. Yesterday, I got hurt. Today, I am healing. My body has forgiven. Could our minds do the same?

Everyday, families are broken by factors beyond our control. Whether by divorce or by the choice of single parenting, angry parents can forgive themselves and the society that has alienated half of our children’s biological and cultural heritage. It is time to start healing.

If we don’t, the insidious cry of society, “Hurt the Children,” will get it’s revenge.

We know better.

Kindling for Candlings

December 1, 2010

Kindling is easily combustible material that lights fires. Candlings are commonly known as the dis-proven method of earwax removal. Yet, in an artistic manner, it could also refer to the dressing of candles upon a birthday cake.

My idea is that behind the mistaken notion that non-custodial parents are not really parents lies an easily extinguishable falsehood and an easily ignitable truth. A child is made of the same stuff as each of her parents and deserves 100% participation in her life of both parents. When one such parent is willing to give 100% and is denied, nothing can stand in the way of the parent-child relationship. Not even the child. The kindling is set. The fire will burn.

To impede the fire is to court a greater conflagration. What can build the child now in controlled expression could raze the person she will become. No reasonable person would risk their child’s sanity to prevent a child from receiving love from their other parent. Love is a fire that a parent can give to his child, here and now. The passion of a father for his daughter and son cannot be extinguished.

As each birthday approaches and passes, my children must know that they have a Dad who has always and will forever love them.