Father’s Day (Reposted)

There is no perfect father, there are only imperfect fathers trying to be their best. What makes a person a good father is open to people’s interpretation and social norms of the time. I was born in 1986 and both my parents worked, my dad worked two jobs, his civilian job and as Captain in the Army Reserve. I remember my dad working evenings and my younger brother and I, along with our mother, bringing ice cream to him. As young kids we didn’t know the difference between active and reserve Army, and when dad went away for annual training it felt like forever. I vaguely remember bits and pieces of conversations dad had during the 1991 Gulf War. He never got deployed but having that possibility, that feeling of him going away for whose know how long, felt heavy.

My relationship with my father since then has been amicable but strained, we do not see eye to eye on politics (myself being a moderate to progressive, him being conservative). I believe because of his past in the military and the way his step-father is, he was taught to be in control and follow a patriarchal-dominated viewpoint. Years after my parents divorced and I was living on my own, I was digging through my notebooks and stumbled across a journal of his. In the writings I saw how he struggled to come to terms with the divorce but also attempted to manipulate religion to try and not get divorced.

Why am I sharing this? Part of it is because it helps bring additional context to what I’ve written. I grew up in a generation between Star Wars, the Episode 4, 5 and 6 had already been released but Episode 1, 2 and 3 didn’t start coming in 1999 when I was 13 years old. I was always intrigued by the father-son dynamic of Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker and the mystery around it. I would have preferred the backstory of Anakin becoming Vader to be shrouded in mystery because the prequel trilogy sucks and is filled with plot holes and contradictions.

In my teenage years I started what would become Within the Grasp of Ordinary, which really did not explore a father-son dynamic. However, as an adult when I returned to the story’s universe, much had changed and I felt comfortable incorporating and exploring the father-son dynamic and presenting some what ifs in my own life. I’ve always wondered what if my father went active Army instead of Army Reserves – would my parents still have divorced – most probably given the current divorce rate in the military is higher than the civilian population.

There are different father-son relationships than Philip (mostly based off me) and his father Thomas, there is the relationship of Tristan and his recently deceased father. Lastly there is Nathan and his father David who is running to become the next President. By including father-son dynamics, the story morphed away from “pure” science fiction to a coming of age, political thriller set in a science fiction environment.

Though my father and my relationship is strained, he did play an active part in the story (he is more than a character and influencer), he lent me the Babylon 5 DVDs I bought him years prior. He discussed other elements of science fiction and his thoughts on futuristic political environments, planetary colonization, etc. I ended up sharing a copy with him and after he read a few chapters, he asked if he was the “bad guy”.

I answered along the lines that it depends on whose perspective the question is asked from as every character interprets their actions and the actions of others differently.

 

The Youthful Inexperienced Fallacy

              There is nothing wrong with a person’s age. Whenever a younger person as an opinion, or takes a stance, there is criticism about the person’s age. Yes, young people make mistakes, they can be naïve, ambitious, foolhardy, and full of themselves, but so can everybody else. The consensus is the older one gets, the wiser one acts, this isn’t always the case as witnessed the numerous politicians, their elderly supporters, and those who constantly bash millennials and post-millennials as being lazy, entitled, naïve, full of themselves, and lacking experience in the real world.

                Some of the three youngest heroes of the American Revolutionary War are John Laurens, son of Henry Laurens, who was in the Continental Congress and later its President. Next is Alexander Hamilton, and then Layfette, all of them in their late teens until mid-twenties from the start to end of the war. Though the life expectancy of people was a lot lower then, and norms way different than today, it does not change the fact that three young people were very fundamental in serving General Washington as aides, advisers, and field commanders in winning the war. They were surrogate sons who made up the military family of the commander and chief, and their opinions were valued.

               Shortly after the Parkland school shooting, a common criticism lobed against those who spoke up is they were young teenagers who knew nothing about the world. Yes, it is a common complaint about younger generations, they are ignorant, they don’t have much experience in the world and how it works, and so forth. In their defense, we were all teenagers once, and our dreams reached for the stars. We do grow up and see our dreams tempered by setbacks, by whose who wish for us to fail, and because the economy and great game of life has been stacked in favor of the rich and those who are already in power.

               The young people of today have the most to lose from inaction taken by politicians and business leaders who currently control the halls of power. Climate change is the biggest challenge, one which a lot of older people seem to ignore. The world is certainly changing, and yes it has always gone through periods of change, but the rate of change is something we have never experienced before. Younger people are pushing businesses to be more aware of their environmental impacts, and businesses have responded by launching recycling initiatives, redesigns of products to use less plastic, and making products from alternative energy sources like wind and solar. The green revolution is still young, but AOC’s Green New Deal is promising because it will not only help Americans in trying to stave off the direst effects of climate change, it will create a lot of new jobs. Green energy employs more people than coal, which even without the expansion of alternative energy was losing jobs.

               The millennial and post-millennial generations are not only trying to save America (and humanity) from climate change, but from the massive income inequality. There will always be income inequality, the top echelon of management will always make more than the lowest worker, however it doesn’t need to be a massive 300 times more. The young people of today overwhelmingly support legislation which will help restore the top rates to closer to the times when the government invested money into policies which made life better for people. Higher tax rates in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s allowed for expansion of Medicaid and Medicare, the Interstate Highway System, the Space Program, and research and development of other technologies, leading to arguably one of the most important: The Internet.

               The youth of the nation is important and there is a dire need to make sure the current and future generations are well served by a government that cares for their wellbeing. Everybody deserves the chance to go to school and succeed, to progress to technical schools or universities free of cost. Everybody deserves affordable healthcare for themselves and their children, and should not have to worry about missing a day of work and pay for calling in to care for a child, and elderly parent, or themselves.

               I don’t think youth and the perceived lack of experience from youth is as bad as people make it out to be. I believe by being young, you aren’t exactly set in stone about how things operate, how things have always been done, you are willing to try new things. In America, the youngest president we have ever elected was JFK at 42, and before him, Teddy Roosevelt was 43 – though he wasn’t elected president until he was older (he became President on McKinley’s death). Currently Mayor Paul Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana is running for President in the 2020 cycle, he is 37. Sure, there have been other young contenders like William Jennings Bryan aged 36 in 1896, and Al Gore aged 39 in 1988. Age isn’t everything and the way the baby boomers have run America since acquiring power, really makes me believe we need the millennials in power to help save the country and the world.