Well, it’s that traditional time of the year again when the president goes on vacation and the conservative world ridicules him for taking time off with his family because of the disarray of our country or the enormousness of expenditures in his doing so. But is there really nothing redeemable or commendable in a father and husband’s spending extended time with his family away from home and office, even when it’s the Oval Office?
Don’t misunderstand me. I have very little in common with our current president, and I think it’s ludicrous how much is spent for the first family to go on a single week’s vacation. There must be an easier and better way — if not many of them. But all of that doesn’t discount the incredible value of a father and husband’s pulling away from the rat race — especially in Washington — for a breather and some family time.
When we conservatives are decrying deadbeat dads and our culture’s demise because of absentee fathers, maybe it’s time we commend even our most ardent opponent when he gets it right with his kids. When people all around us are stressed out and suffering burnout from over-commitment and overtime on the job, maybe it’s time we commend those who fight to balance their personal lives and win a single battle over the tyranny of the urgent. When even Sunday mornings have been dominated by children’s sports — squelching American religious commitments and church attendance — maybe it’s time to renew our value in a Sabbath rest.
One of my favorite chapters in my New York Times best-seller and cultural manifesto Black Belt Patriotism is the chapter titled “Honor and Care for the Family.” In it, I not only vindicate many of America’s Founding Fathers’ views on marriage and family — without condoning their wrongdoing — but also discuss what I believe we can do to restore and strengthen the traditional family unit today.
Our founders were not faultless politicians, patriots, fathers or husbands. How often is it echoed that they had mistresses or infidelity misgivings rather than pointed out that they had commitments to preserve the role of family in America, including their own? (But if I can find value in our president’s private time with his family, the least that my liberal friends can do is rediscover the value that our founders had in their families, too.)
The fact is that most of America’s founders were passionately concerned with honoring the role of the traditional family in our culture. Though they weathered their own particular familial storms, the founders treasured marriage and family as institutions created by God that were indelible contributors to common decency and community civility.
For example, William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, wrote: “(A) Husband and Wife that love and value one another, (show) their Children and Servants, That they should do so too. Others visibly lose their Authority in their Families by their Contempt of one another; and teach their Children to be unnatural by their own Example.”
In 1799, two years before his two terms as president, Thomas Jefferson wrote to his wife, Mary, and compared the political climate to his home by saying, “Environed here in scenes of constant torment, malice, and obloquy, worn down in a station where no effort to render service can avail anything, I feel not that existence is a blessing, but when something recalls my mind to my family or farm.”
Jefferson also wrote to the renowned explorer William Clark, “By a law of our nature, we cannot be happy without the endearing connections of a family.”
Benjamin Rush — a physician, educator and signer of the Declaration of Independence — wrote to his wife Julia, saying, “I shall be better satisfied if the same can be said of me as was said of the prophet of old, ‘That I walked in the fear of the Lord, and begat sons and daughters’ (Genesis 5:22), than if it were inscribed upon my tombstone that I governed the councils or commanded the arms of the whole continent of America.”
You know the statistics today. You see the problems. Too many families are in complete disarray.
To achieve a better country will require a cultural and spiritual reformation. But we don’t need to wait for some mass movement to start. We can initiate one with ourselves and our families. God has given every one of us the capacity to make a difference in this world for the better, and it starts at home, today.
There’s no debate over what we need to do. The story is as old as the Bible, as basic as love and respect, and as pragmatic as Benjamin Franklin’s advice when he said, “Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards.” (I hope he eventually took his own advice!)
Let’s get on with it! We can’t wait for Washington to rebuild our country. It starts and ends with us — we the people.
It’s August — still summer — and maybe time (again) to get our focus off the president’s time with his family and back on our time with ours.
For far more thoughts and encouragement, I highly recommend reading the chapter titled “Honor and Care for the Family” in my book Black Belt Patriotism. You can get it at any bookstore or on my official website, at http://www.chucknorris.com.