“There are no adequate substitutes for father, mother, and children bound together in a loving commitment to nurture and protect. No government, no matter how well-intentioned, can take the place of the family in the scheme of things.”
—Gerald Ford, thirty-eighth president of the United States
Two men, Robert and Dan, were considering buying an old apartment building. It was inexpensive but needed some work. If done correctly, work done on the building would make it much more productive and valuable. The building needed plumbing work and the interior needed some redecorating. The outside needed painting and landscaping. But what worried Robert the most were the cracks he saw in the walls which suggested a foundation problem. When he mentioned this too Dan, Dan suggested “those cracks have been there a long time. We’ll just patch them up.” Robert was not so sure and thought they should have the foundation looked at, but Dan was afraid that would be too expensive, especially if something was found to be in need of repair that really wasn't necessary. Robert just pursed his lips to one side.
Robert and Dan got a loan and proceeded to fix the plumbing. They patched the walls, replaced some windows and painted inside and out. The landscaping put the final touches on what looked like a very handsome place to live. The neighbors were happy that Robert and Dan had invested in their neighborhood and improved an eyesore.
Things looked like they were going to work out for Robert, Dan, and the building. Interest was high and Robert and Dan were praised for their efforts. Then the unexpected occurred. The earth shook! Not very hard did it shake, maybe a 4.5 on the Richter scale. The surrounding area had a mess to clean up. Some bricks fell, and some tree limbs fell on cars. Some shelves in the local grocery store collapsed and cans filled the aisles. The power company checked on wires and poles.
The neighborhood could recover, except for one building, Robert and Dan’s building! The weak foundation allowed the building to rock excessively. Walls cracked, pipes broke and water flooded much of the building. The panes in the new and old windows broke and glass was everywhere. The building was in much worse shape than when they had bought it.
The Eyes of Predisposition
When Robert and Dad bought the building, the plumbing did need repair and the money was provided to fix it. Redecorating and landscaping made everything look much better and the neighbors were impressed. But the main issue with the building had been ignored, that being the foundation.
Before the small tremor, Robert and Dan had visions of profit. Dan knew that if they discovered extensive foundation problems, the repairs would take away from that profit. Robert thought the same thing but was fearful of the consequences if the foundation issue was not addressed.
Of course the plumbers thought fixing the plumbing was what the building needed. The painters thought they would provide the most bang for Robert and Dan’s buck. The landscapers knew the magic of how things look to others and made the curb appeal stand out. The structural engineers, however, were ignored.
What Does this all Mean?
Poverty, crime, civil disobedience, etc. are the broken windows, bad plumbing, and chipped paint of a society in disrepair. But in my mind, because I am a fatherhood advocate (similar to a structural engineer), the main issue of a society in disrepair is the breakdown of the family--and more specifically, the lack of a strong father figure in too any homes where society struggles.
So much money has been spent on housing people who don’t have the means to take care of the property. Food is provided for people who need food, but more food is necessary every day. Pregnant teens desire and get help after they are pregnant. No help is desired to keep them from becoming pregnant. If good fathers were around and involved, they could provide for their families, be good role models for their sons, and teach their daughters how they should be treated by men.
Therefore, the structural correction I would attack most fervently is efforts to keep families whole. Some social programs with good intent have ended up making it disadvantageous for a man to be in the home. Many judicial policies make it tough for men to stay involved with their children. Society, in general, doesn’t give men much credit as parents. Lastly, missing fathers create many more missing fathers. The common cure that would positively impact all of these issues is good ol' parenting with an involved mom and dad cooperating.
We try to fix the easiest problems, or those that are in our best interest, first. We try to ignore what may be the most difficult thing to do, or that which would reflect badly on us. We all do this in some degree or another because we are humans. I think the problem is the breakdown of the core family. Others think it is a lack of education, a lack of jobs, a lack of money, etc. But we have spent a lot of money on all those areas without significant overall success. Those are all real issues, but to address them before we address the foundation of the problem is wasting our time, money, and lives!
We need the Roberts’ of the world to speak up more loudly and do the right thing!