Sadly, it happened about a week before my family and I were set to visit him. I do miss him, as well as my step-father who passed eight years before him. But the greatest gift my father ever gave me was blindness.
Not in the physical sense. He could see, as can I. And I’m not cheapening the challenges faced by those afflicted with blindness in their eyes. Some of the nicest, kindest, most helpful people I know are blind. The blindness my dad gave me is one in my inside eyes.
When George Takei tweeted about the universe not joking around with Rep. Steve Scalise’s wounding by a political terrorist and saved by a “black lesbian,” many people responded by pointing out that Scalise was shot by a liberal. I, however, simply replied that the universe doesn’t care about life, death, sexual orientation, skin color, or hair style.
That was my first reaction, before reading anyone else’s. It made me realize that I don’t care about most of those things either. Skin color, sexual orientation, religion, parentage, economic status mean very little to me in the larger scheme of things. I am pretty much blind to them, so I didn’t get Takei’s main point in his tweet because I didn’t see it at all.
My dad was that way. He never saw people by their skin color or their race or background. He was a curmudgeon to everyone, and he certainly had his faults, but being caught up with externals wasn’t one of them.
I was never taught to hate anyone because of who they are. I’m absolutely convinced–and the Bible backs me up–that we’re born greedy, sinful, self-worshipping little humans. If you’ve been a parent to a toddler or a teenager, you know this. I’ve heard a comic say that God made kids cute for a reason, because we’d get rid of them by the time they’re five if they weren’t.
But for all the sinfulness wrapped up in our flesh, we have to be taught tribalism. We have to be taught that people who look, act, or speak differently are to be hated. Kids fear what’s different, and they look to their parents for reassurance. When they see the parent making racial comments or treating people differently based on skin color, they pick it up. Once picked up, it’s very hard to let it go.
My dad gave me blindness instead. Everyone is the same. Except politicians–he called them all crooks and said politics was “a racket.” He was right about that in many ways, but even politicians can be good people, regardless of their political tribe.
I’m also blind to concepts like getting “woke” or pursuing social justice. Those inherently depend on making people into classes and categories. It’s weird how postmodern liberals today take physical properties and biological realities and call them “social constructs,” then take actual social constructs like racial identities and turn them into physical realities.
Getting truly “woke” means getting blindness. Help your neighbor because he or she is in need, not because you look alike. I would love to see the whole world be blind like my father, and see every father pass that on to his children. And for the fatherless, the Father in heaven is blind also. Know Him and receive the gift.
For Father’s day, if there’s any gift I want to pass on to my own two boys, with the exception of loving God and believing God loves all of us, it’s the blindness I got from my dad.
Thank you, Richard, for that gift.