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The Elian Complex: America's Oedipus

by Archie Wortham

"Whether it’s nobler in the mind, to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of trouble
And by opposing end them."

-William Shakespeare

Does America really think American men are like Hamlet and don't know what’s going on, or how to fix it?

Whether a 6-year-old boy stayed in a foreign country and possibly lost the opportunity to see his father for the rest of his life was never the issue. Look at the players besides Elian, his in-laws, and his father: there were Immigration Services, Janet Reno, and our elected role model. And then, like me, there were fathers who sat at home and wondered, could this happen to us? Is America really capable of judging others without looking at herself and her own hidden agendas?

A child should never be made a political pawn of aspiring candidates. The Elian question was not something that our elected officials or the man on the street should be expected to answer. The answer? The answer remains a difficult one as America wrestles with its own malignant neglect of fathers. And this neglect drives stakes into the heart of every man who is, or ever hopes to be a father. Boys need a home! Boys need their father. And more than just Dr. Laura, people understand--fathers need their sons!

Granted, American standards of living are higher than a lot of places. But most men alive today, at some time in their youth, wanted to live with someone other than their dad. (Tell me you never thought about running away from home, at least once). I did. I thought the boy up the road, or the kid whose clothes were better than mine had it better than me.

America ignores fathers. In America, if a man turns his back on his children, we call him deadbeat, worthless, even a criminal. In America, if a father doesn’t live up to his responsibility, we generally ‘sic’ the law on him. American idealists suddenly embraced the law as they clamored for Elian’s father's right to have his son.

Ironically, the courts routinely deny many American fathers similar rights. Rallying behind political aspirants holding placards imploring the government to deny the law, Americans forgot the fathers she uses the law to punish. American fathers suffering similar fates weren’t even mentioned during this entire scenario. In many courts, men are portrayed as drones, good only for breeding. In today's America, fathers are rarely acknowledged as being just as vital in the healthy life of children as mothers are.

Dads, it’s important for you to understand why God chose you to be the father of your kids. This is not about spirituality. It’s not about believing in a God, but rather how you feel about taking care of something that is yours. Are you insignificant? Do you matter?

Less than a two centuries ago, in this country, slave children were taken away from their families. Today, many people say how uncaring, callous, and cruel it was. Yet today similar things happen, only under the auspices of justice. I am truly amazed at how we got to be so sanctimonious and forgetful in such a few years.

The Elian issue reminded us that fathers matter! Even if it’s just to determine custody. Yet research clearly demonstrates that fathers are important. Increasingly, the courts are awarding fathers custody. That’s what liberals and feminists want the courts to forget. Fathers do nurture and do work in the home, just as mothers do provide for families as they work outside the home. Some women think men are aliens from Mars, but we live on earth, have feelings, and expect to raise our children.

Elian’s plight was linked to the plight of many American fathers. I hope the men and women who read this understand that fact! Fathers want to be involved, now let them raise the children they helped create. America needs to look at what’s happening in the homes and how a legacy of emasculated American fathers influences a society and future generations! We as men, as fathers, have to take a stand ‘against a sea of trouble’ because if we don’t, who will?

We were important before Elian Gonzales, and we will be important long afterwards.

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