Being a father is a profound experience, one of the most meaningful and challenging occurrences in my life. I was not close to my father, nor did I understand his difficult life. I have not always been close to my daughter. On this father's day, I pray for my daughter's independence and well-being, and for her to know she is loved and supported, and I pray for my father's life and soul. He did his best, as do most of us.
I also offer this prayer for me on Father's Day, on what I hope it means to be a man for me.
I pray that we take responsibility for the violence and bloodshed we have caused in the world, for the wars and brutality, the aggression and rape and bullying, economic and environmental depredations and insensitivity that has come to characterize the very idea of being male.
I pray that I can continue to learn to encourage and support women as they make their way through their great transition from dominated servants to precious and proud and free – and equal and independent beings.
I pray that I can learn to be a better husband every day. To remember the small things, to work hard to understand love. I pray that I will always ask myself every single day how I can be a better husband, be more understanding and supportive, so that at the end of my life, my wife will say of me that I was a good man.
And what is a good man? What does it mean to be a man? For me, it means being gentle. Understanding. Creative. Generous. Loving. Strong when the people around me need strength and loving when they need love. I pray that no person is ever afraid of me, or feels dominated by me. I pray that I always remember that I have no right to tell other people – most especially women – how to live their lives.
I pray that every daughter and son look back on their fathers one day and say that they were encouraged and supported and learned from them how to love and be generous to those in need.
I hope to live long enough to see that being a man becomes something different. That we teach our sons and ask of our brothers that they help to save our Mother Earth and become warriors for love and fulfillment, not death and domination.
That is my prayer for me on Father's Day.