The American Family, Beyond the Home
The nation, like the family, can have its disagreements, and be estranged and divided; but we must not burn bridges.
January 14, 2019
There is a story about a man, estranged from his father; their relationship was practically nonexistent. While growing up, the son and father did not communicate much, and when they did there was little if any agreement, but rather usually resentment and hurt feelings. And now years had passed since they had spoken at all. It was his beloved mother who had died years ago who was always able to calm things and quell the turmoil at home. In her absence, things only got worse.
One day the man decided to take his young son to visit his grandfather, now a troubled soul who lived a reclusive life. When they arrived, the man’s father was sitting on the steps of his home; he had a serious and menacing demeanor and looked like a beaten man in what can best be described a disheveled state.
The man with his young son approached his father and said: "Hello dad, it’s been a while, and I’d like you to meet your grandson." He introduced the boy and said "His name is Michael. I thought it was about time you met him." The father stared at his son, and then at his grandson, and said: "Leave me alone, I’m not interested." He then got up, walked to the front door, opened it and disappeared inside.
The man was saddened and deeply hurt, hoping perhaps things might have changed; he also felt embarrassed, having his son witness this rebuke. As they walked toward their car, the young son was confused, and looking up at his father asked, "Dad, why did we come here?" The father was still upset with what happened, but said to his son, "I knew this might happen, Michael, but I felt it was time you met your grandfather, and hopefully have him in your life. But don’t fret and be angry; know that every person, even the most miserable, deserve a chance and can be redeemed."
The father continued, "I also needed you to know this is where I came from, and that your grandfather was an often angry and disillusioned man, and that life growing up was difficult; but no matter what your circumstances, you alone have the power to determine your own destiny - it is entirely up to you. And as you grow older, you will look back and ask the same questions that most of us have. Did I make the right decisions and choices in life, and did they have a positive effect? Did I make a difference, and what have I accomplished."
Although somewhat stretched, perhaps we can use this life’s lesson, as an analogy. In November of 2016, the American people voted into office one Donald Trump, a political novice, and presented him to the nation as their new president. His supporters, of course, accepted this rather larger-than-life bombastic character, but many others, like the grandfather in our story, grimaced and cried out and walked away angry and disgusted wanting nothing to do with what they considered this charlatan and usurper who bested their candidate.
But like the father in our story, who explains to his son his reasoning for the visit, the people who elected Mr. Trump spoke to the nation with their vote. We came from a time when the political establishment in unison with the last administration made life in America difficult, divided, and uncertain. They tried to tear down and undermine traditional institutions, the values and principles, and the sanctity of life and marriage that have been the foundation of the family and the nation, and they further secularized an already devolving culture.
Some can take away that the grandfather in our story represents the Left in America and that would be accurate. But as the father explains to his young son, hopefully, one day your grandfather will seek and find redemption, and come to see the light and accept that although we have differences, there’s no reason we can’t come together for the good of the family, and a nation.
As they drove away, the father looked in the rearview mirror, and watched as the home he grew up in vanished from sight. He sighed and thought to himself "If only things could have been different." Then he looked at his son and smiled, and said, "Don’t be disheartened, perhaps your grandfather will come to forgive and realize there was a time he and I had harsh words, we argued and we fought, but all that’s water under the bridge, we’ve been angry too long, life’s too short."
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