My dad is superman. The flurry of fathers’ days posts this weekend drove this point home to me more forcefully than ever before. Not superman in the sense of being a man of steel, but in terms of being what every man should be (not all of which is steel, by the way). More than what he has taught me, I am grateful for what he did not teach me. Here are some things he did not teach me for which I will remain eternally grateful.
All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others
Dad chose to skip this lesson, and allowed me to grow up respecting all people equally, regardless of their erudition, ethnicity or economics. I was taught to treat those less fortunate than me with the respect that is due to all sentient beings, and the question of discriminating never occurred to me till I began to see it in others as I grew up.
The only function that women have is to serve men
Growing up and as a grown up, I saw the women (all of them, yes) in my father’s life being accorded the highest importance and regard possible. He showed me with his own behavior that women were not only equals, but stronger and more important in many ways. He helped me to understand why nature and the earth were referred to as female.
Morality is an absolute
Dad showed me and continues to show me, through his own behavior, that morality is something that evolves, and that at no point of that evolution can it be looked down upon by someone who is at another point. He also showed me that morality is relative to circumstances, not an easy lesson to transmit, and he has done so through his own actions.
There is one god, and all other gods are false
I gave up trying to discuss god and religion with my father very, very early in life. He professes to be an atheist, yet lives the most spiritual life one can lead. He very pointedly asked me to figure out the god business on my own. Yet, he also instilled in me the deepest respect for all religion and spiritual beliefs. He is one of the few men that I know about whom I can say he follows a universal religion.
|Dad in front of the memorial for Madan Tamang|
If you cannot beat them, join them
Dad is a writer, and though he is highly acclaimed as a scholar, he has struggled all his life to create what he believes is truly enduring commentary on the human condition. In this struggle, he has faced all odds. He has been the man who sits and writes while his wife works a job to support the family. He has refused to write what he does not believe in, sometimes at the cost of material and financial comfort. Through it all, he has never wavered, never lost hope, and I have never heard him regret his choices. He has consistently worked at creating a body of work that speaks loudly of his conviction and opinion.
On fathers’ day, I thank him for not teaching me to define the word "father" in a limited way. For not teaching me to view myself through the lens of subjective ego. For not teaching me to fall prey to the vicissitudes of life. For not teaching me to judge and condemn those that do not see things the way I do. For not teaching me to give up.
On fathers’ day, I thank him for helping me see that the function of a father is to connect you with the wisdom that lies within you. For helping me deal with the eight winds of prosperity, decline, disgrace, honor, praise, censure, suffering and pleasure with equanimity, humility and gratitude. For helping me understand connecting with one’s mission and remaining true to it is the greatest glory of all. My dad really is superman.