Today’s installment of Wednesday Wisdom comes from President Obama’s inaugural speech. There were several key passages to draw from, but I decided to focus on the following quote:
…it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.
I like the way that President Obama juxtaposed a firefighter’s courage to run into a burning building with a parent’s willingness to nurture a child. You’d have to possess a fair amount of courage and unselfishness in order to risk your life to save a total stranger. Raising and nurturing a child takes the same amount of courage and unselfishness. Unfortunately, too many fathers lack these qualities and millions of children suffer because of their cowardice and selfishness. Ultimately, the nation suffers.
Fathers, we have to do better. We must make giving our children the proper nurturing our top priority. I don’t do as well in this area as I would like to, but I’m striving to improve. Despite my shortcomings, I’m confident that my kids know they can rely on me to meet their needs and that my love for them is unconditional.
It is that same love that has helped America to prosper through the ages. There are countless stories of loving, courageous fathers who gave their all for their children. Our country’s fate was shaped by the tiny contributions these people made in their homes and communities.
My father was not around, but I’m grateful for uncles, teachers, pastors, and neighbors who looked after me and gave me lessons in courage. People like to talk about how they pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, but they forget that it was a benevolent stranger who gave them their first pair of boots.
We must teach our children the value of helping others. If we fail to do this important task, our children will grow up with a worldview that only extends to the end of their noses. We cannot afford to raise a generation of self-centered Americans who believe the country owes them something. America is relying on us to be more than that.
Fathers, we have work to do and it starts in our own homes and in our own neighborhoods. Start by nurturing your kids. Fill their hearts with love, their minds with wisdom, and their spirits with courage. And when you’ve filled them up with everything you have, send them out to nurture and care for others.