Content from Fathers Helping Fathers
“What you are now is because of where you were when,” is something I use when I talk about various audience demographics to my speech students. Dr. Morris Massey talks about this as he talked about significant emotional events in our lives.
We’ve all had them. Someone in the family dies. Someone is born. Someone is the first to go into the military, the ministry or college. It happens all the time; we just don’t know what to call it.
Another perspective is to remember, “If you don’t pick up what you drop, you’ll never get it back.” But unfortunately, along the way, we sometimes forget how we got where we are. We forget what made us who we are. We just simply forget that sometimes, the crosses we are given to bear, are really just blessings to share.
Rules have something to do with that. Simple rules make our lives orderly, healthy, and complete. If we don’t have rules, we wind up with chaos. People could wear whatever they wanted to wear to school. Have you noticed that lately? People could puncture parts of their body many of us consider sacred. Have you noticed that too? People can disrespect themselves and the people who look up to them by disagreeing with the people who try to set standards. And are standards important? Ask the people in New Orleans if the levees had been up to standards would their lives have been different? Ask the young men who became “juvies” if their parents or teachers had been stricter would their lives have been different? Of course, when you deal with ifs, you must realize you are also dealing with choices. Who’s responsible for the bad choice? The teacher who ignored the rule and let the student slide or the student who cheated, when he knew he was wrong. That’s right, they were both wrong, but the proof comes when the consequences are given.
Some of you may be aware of the recent comments by San Antonio Spurs'Tim Duncan, about wearing a coat and tie. He doesn’t like what the commissioner Stern wants as a rule. The problem here!? Mr. Duncan is from a different time and place from the rule maker. Yet for a number of seasons one of the places Mr. Duncan has been is within a game that is structured on rules. Why do you have to stand behind the free throw line to shoot a free throw? Why even have free throws? Why have fouls?
We have rules for a reason. Once they are in place, unless they have a cataclysmic effect on the people forced to abide them, they should be followed. Particularly by people who are revered, look upon like icons, or models. I don’t know ‘what’s up’ with Mr. Duncan’s reluctance to ‘dress’ up. Nevertheless, I do know what his reluctance to following rules will do for many of us fighting a daily battle to get our kids to pull up their pants, limit the piercing and tattooing, or simply—listening to the rules they have at school. It will make it harder.
It will make it harder for parents. It will make it harder for teachers. And in the end, it will make it hard for basketball coaches, managers, and other people in authority as we try to limit drug use, improve sportsmanship on the court, and of course, the general attitude of fans as they see their heroes.
The issue today is about heroes, and heroes following rules. Who are the heroes our kids have? Who do we have that they can look to for courage, respect, and emulation? We don’t have John Wayne, Arthur Ashe or Eleanor Roosevelt anymore. We don’t have Disney doing the movies that help us celebrate life as often as they did. Sure we get an occasional ‘Angels in the Outfield’ story, but too rarely. And TV and music! It’s hard to find a ‘Bridge Over Troubled Waters’ when the lyrics are so inflammatory and crude, talk radio practically becomes your only respite, short of turning off the radio.
So Tim, you have to wear a suit. That’s another way to invest your millions of dollars, but in the process realize what you are doing for your child. You are setting an example, and that’s something every adult should realize they should be doing whether they feel they bargained for it or not. Once you become an icon, you become a celebrity, and you take on the same mantle Hollywood and sport stars of the past did. You give up some of your freedom and pay Uncle Sam a bit more money to use your God-given talent to also be a real giant among us lowly individuals who as parents want true heroes for our children.
And for those of you who think I look at parents as any less a hero or heroine, then think again. The battles we fight with the schools, the government, and even with our children are the battles that truly make this country great. That’s the important war. Freedom may be a gift, but freedom of choice is also a responsibility, and I challenge those with the greater potential to influence our young people to be more cautious, respectful, and yeah…responsible.
So wear the suit if you have to, and when you are chosen to make the rules, then change them accordingly. Just help me, help my son, and other men become better fathers by respecting the rules, whether it’s on or off the court.