Father's Day is, in my opinion, simultaneously the silliest and most important "fake holiday" that humanity has ever created.
In one sense, marking an arbitrary day in any calendar as specially designated for "fathers" is quite ridiculous. A father's duties and responsibilities are not restricted to any one day. Being a father is a 24x7x365 job. It is the most important role that a man will ever play in his entire life, no matter how great or mean a man is to begin with.
Kings and emperors, who held the fates of entire nations in their hands, could always rule benevolently and wisely during their own lifetimes. But if they failed to raise their sons well, to understand the weight of the responsibility that would sit upon their shoulders when they in turn took up the throne, the kingdom or the empire would suffer terribly and even fall outright.
History is strewn with the wrecks of such failures. Among the most infamous are the examples of Louis XIV of France- the greatest king that his nation ever had- and his useless layabout of a son, Louis XV. To this wastrel of a king is attributed (usually incorrectly) the phrase "apres moi, le deluge", which holds a rather prophetic quality given that it was Louis XV's son, Louis XVI, who was beheaded alongside his wife during the French Revolution that devastated what was once the greatest empire in Europe.
A father cannot arbitrarily pick a particular day to do his job. It just doesn't work that way.
So in that sense, what, exactly, is the point in designating this one day as "Fathers' Day"?
Simple. It is about expressing gratitude and appreciation for the men who step up to take on the most important responsibility of their lives.
The truth about fatherhood is that it is the most profound and sacred duty that any man can take on. It is the most difficult, and often the most stressful.
I do not write that last sentence lightly, by the way. I know that there are several US ex-Special Forces operators who read my writing, and I'm perfectly willing to make the following wager.
Suppose I asked them whether they were more terrified by the sheer brutality of their training regimen, or the prospect of jumping out of a perfectly serviceable aircraft with nothing but a bit of nylon and silk cord between them and a particularly nasty death, or running headlong into enemy fire- or the thought of any harm coming to their children.
You and I know exactly what the answer would be.
Every father knows what I mean when I write that, the moment you conceive a child with your woman, you never sleep the same way ever again.
Father's Day is about celebrating the men who have taken on this most difficult and noble of burdens. It is about showing gratitude to the men in our lives who perform the hard and often thankless job of forging men out of boys. And it is about acknowledging that no civilisation can long endure without strong, masculine fathers.
Whenever I think or talk about fatherhood, I always go back to my own role model for what a father should be: my dad. As I wrote last year, "[m]y father is my hero, the man that I try to emulate, whether consciously or otherwise, in as many ways as I can". That is because my father, for all that he is a flawed and fallen man- like all of the rest of us- did his absolute best to be a good father to me and my sister, and in the process taught me just about everything I know about what it means to be both a good man, and good at being a man.
That is made all the more remarkable by the fact that my father once told me that, when he got married to my mother, he didn't want to have children. He said this with my mother sitting right next to him.
I was quite shocked when he told me this. I couldn't imagine why on Earth he would say it. He explained to me that, at the time, he didn't think that he had it in him to be a good father.
His own father, whom he loved and admired very much, was nonetheless not exactly the greatest role model for a young man to emulate. My grandfather, whom I also admired greatly when I was a child and still miss to this day, was not a strong man. My grandmother, whom I loved dearly, was an extremely strong and overbearing woman who ruled over her family with an iron fist- and was certainly not above using said fist to deliver harsh discipline to her three children.
My dad came from a background that was missing a truly strong masculine role model. And it was for that reason that he thought he wouldn't be a good father.
It was my mother who convinced him otherwise. She saw what he did not- that within the core of this young, confident, upright, ambitious, hardworking, morally unbending man that she had married was a family man who would do everything possible to give her and her future children a good life.
More than thirty years later, my father has proven her right many times over.
It was not easy going, by the way. My dad spent much of my youth traveling, flying from meeting to meeting and spending an awful lot of time in conference rooms and boring hotels. He missed huge parts of my formative years because he had no choice; the very job that kept his wife and children in such comfort also demanded great sacrifices from him in order to sustain that lifestyle.
Those long weeks and months spent traveling took a real toll on his marriage. Years after I had grown up and left home, my mother would tell me stories about the arguments that the two of them would have about his constant traveling, and the pain that those disagreements caused him. His counterargument was always the same: if it were not for his job, the lifestyle that we enjoyed would not exist.
There was no way to disagree with this point. Yet the fact remained that his travel took him away from those he cared about the most, at many of the most important points in our lives.
He carries tremendous guilt for that, to this very day. The sacrifices that he had to make in order to provide for his family took a real toll on him physically and emotionally.
Even so, I do not hold his long absences against him. I never have, because through his words and, more importantly, his actions, he showed that he did everything he could to keep my mother, my sister, and me safe and secure. My sister and I grew up wanting for nothing, traveled all over Asia during our childhoods, enjoyed the best of world-class education, and grew into our own as adults capable of thinking and fending for ourselves.
(My sister may be an illogical silly temperamental feminist- Lord, forgive us our redundancies- but she is still independent in her own right, even if I disagree completely with most of her lifestyle choices.)
My father was, and is, the best patriarch and role model that I could have asked for.
Yet for all of the great good that he has done for me, the fact remains that there were large parts of my education that my father missed out.
When I was growing up, guns and violence were strongly frowned upon; my father has never much liked or understood the American obsession with guns, because where we come from the concept of the right to keep and bear arms really doesn't exist. I never learned a martial art as a child; actually, I hated exercise when I was young and was never much interested in the idea. It was only when I grew up and left home that I discovered the joys and rewards of hard workouts and the discipline and focus that comes with them.
He certainly didn't prepare me for the extreme hostility toward men and our rights that has infected the Western world.
And even today he has a hard time understanding a Millennial's perspective on relationships and marriage. A few years back, when I raised a number of highly rational and well-founded objections to the entire concept of marriage in the West, his response was something along the lines of, "If you adopt the attitude that your marriage is likely to fail before you even get married, then it probably will".
While that is incontrovertibly true, the fact remains that it is becoming more difficult and dangerous every day to become a husband and father in the modern age. The West's utter hostility toward men, and its insistence on treating us like disposable trash, instead of as the expendable builders and guardians of civilisation, will destroy it, and soon.
Yet even in this time of darkness, there is hope for those of us who feel the call to become husbands and fathers in our own right.
Every man feels this urge at some point, no matter how many (or how few) women he has slept with, no matter how rich or poor he is, and no matter how badly he has been hurt by life and its vagaries.
Many of us ignore this call. The men that do have every right to do so and live their own lives as they see fit- and there are more and more of us doing so every day, because we see that the rewards for taking on that most sacred of duties are far outweighed by the punishments in today's feminised society.
I respect and understand their choice. I even agree with it, up to a point.
Even so, Western civilisation and all of the great good that come with it did not happen by accident. The greatness of the civilisation that we enjoy today came about because men were willing to take huge risks to their health, their finances, and their very futures in order to bring new generations of sons and daughters into the world. All of the good things that we enjoy today came about because of men who did difficult and often terrible things in order that their descendants could live in peace and prosperity.
We do great dishonour to their efforts and sacrifices if we simply turn away and refuse to pass on their values- our values.
We are in a war for our very way of life. We will not win this war by simply refusing to show up and fight.
So this Fathers' Day, thank the father figure in your life for teaching you right from wrong, for telling you to get back up when you fell, for the harsh but just discipline that he used to reinforce his values, and for bringing you up to become the man that you are now.
And when your time comes to be a father, do not fail to pass on those same lessons to your son.