What Fathers Give Us
A father’s first present to his son has traditionally been his name. My name is Jerold Levoritz – same last name as my father. Eight days after my birth, at my circumcision, I received my second name, Yosef ben Shlomo (Joseph son of Solomon). My father’s Jewish name was Shlomo (Solomon) ben Shimon (Simon)-Asher (my paternal grandfather). I cannot go back any farther than the late 1800s, because that is when my ancestors arrived in America, but my teacher can track his family ancestry to the early 1800s. His wife can trace her lineage even earlier to the 1200s.
While traceable ancestry has always been quietly touted by the privileged classes as a sign of family stability and worth, even dirt‑poor but proud folks have been able to produce lengthy family histories. Yemenite Jews used to keep scrolls of their relatives dating back many hundreds of years, frequently more than a thousand years, but they no longer observe that custom.
Almost all cultures have a history of using patronyms. Patronymic formats for family names have been quite common, appearing in Europe and Asia, including Persia, China, and Japan, and stretching back in time to ancient Egypt, as in Rameses, meaning son of the sun‑god Ra. Larson, a Swedish name, would be “son of Lars.” This Lars fellow died many generations ago but was memorialized by his son when centralized governments forced individuals to have both first and family names to aid in identifying them. Such a system of multiple names for each person helped local authorities identify to whom to send the tax bill or which child they needed to induct into the army. The government, it seems, has always needed to know as much as possible about each individual no matter how far-flung or ancient the culture.
But, as with all such customs, we may be reaching the time when a change will have to be made. Perhaps matronyms will replace patronyms, given the decreased valuation accorded to fathers. But matronyms also presume the continued importance of mothers. That may not be the way this 21st-century American cookie is going to crumble.
Perhaps, in the future, a person’s identity will be sourced from his Social Security number. Then our children will all be called “Something Something Gison” followed by his Social Security number. “Gison” and “Gisa” are, of course, short for Government Issue Son and Government Issue Daughter. Teachers would be able to call children by their given names, and in the case of a tie (2 Mary Janes or 2 Peter Pauls), the last four digits of the Social Security number would clear up the identity confusion. So elegant! And that is both fair and correct if government is in loco parentis.
Such a naming system would have the additional effect of saving from embarrassment those who cannot pridefully recount their lineage. In this regard, I recall shopping late one night at a local supermarket. Stopping at the canned vegetables, I heard a snippet of a conversation between two shelf stockers: “I was so angry at my son’s mother for missing the parent‑teacher meeting. She could ’ov called me!” He had carnally known this woman but missed out by choice, chance, or forced exile at being an important influence in his offspring’s life. How many other women had he made single mothers? I wondered. But if everyone were a Gison or Gisa, then lineage would not matter much to either nominal parent or to their nominal child. If no emotional attachments between children and parents are expected, there do not have to be any disappointments.
However, this grasping for control by a faceless government whose goals are limited almost exclusively to self-preservation can have unforeseen consequences. The larger the group that falls prey to such control, the more dire are the potential pitfalls. Indeed, the results of all-encompassing central control may be so debilitating that officials might in the very long run be left in custody of only a box of dead babies, perhaps literally. The summary of some recent research reflects the problem in its title: “Population benefits of sexual selection explain the existence of males.” This article, appearing May 18, 2015 on phys.org/news, extends some well‑developed biological fitness themes of evolutionary science. The essence of the argument is that male competition for females who, in turn, are supposed to choose the mate most likely to succeed at protecting them and their mutual offspring is healthy for the species as a whole. This insight can explain at least in part why the act of rape is so heinous; it violently removes the woman’s choice.
If we accept the conclusions of the research, the social and economic expenses incurred by bisexual reproduction are a necessary cost for future improvement of the species. However, when improvement is no longer a goal of individuals or their governments, female choices meander about the landscape. If there are no survival needs, taste in men becomes a personal proclivity. If a female earns more than her mate or is better-educated, money and intellectual accomplishment no longer are measures of success and so may be discounted when she makes her choices. Worse, if a male in a fully degraded welfare state does not have to earn money at all, he can take on the aura of a pet. When offspring are not the goal of a couple, but an afterthought, the quality of the unintended child is irrelevant. It becomes the government’s responsibility to deal with each child, and it becomes the teacher’s fault if education does not proceed apace.
Of course, there are always prisons to lock up biological and cultural mistakes. Fathers and mothers no longer have to teach their children a long list of skills and social behaviors to survive and even prosper. Rather, parents have to hover about their children to keep them safe, lest the parents become the objects of government legal bodies whose job descriptions somehow include searching out parents who are behaving irresponsibly with the children, who are, after all, government issue.
It is “established science” that government must be amoral if it is to preserve itself. Therefore, in spite of their protestations, it is not a surprise that the government is without deep interest in the welfare of those it controls. The white middle-class parents of a ten- and six‑year old in Maryland have recently been persecuted to the point of prosecution for seeking consciously to raise free-range children, while black parents have been ignored for generations when they do the same. The decision to prosecute or ignore the same behavior among different cultural groups lays open the government to charges of racism, but at base such decisions are only self-preservation machinations for bureaucrats. It just smells like racism.
As a sop to the idea that things should improve as time marches on, the modern socialist government instead hinders each child’s development by ignoring their individual needs. They do this by fabricating systems to which every child must be exposed equally. To their minds, each child must be exposed to the same material, allowing his thinking to differ only marginally from his classmates, so that in the end he will vote for the proper political party. No longer are children to be raised as cannon fodder for the wars of the nobility and capitalists; rather, they can be political cannon fodder for the needs of the leftists who inhabit the halls of power.
Fatherhood can be salvaged from our cultural wreckage. Given the foregoing observations, the modern father can take on an exquisitely important role should he choose to accept the assignment. Just as fathers of the past taught wilderness survival skills, if he is still at home today, a father can now teach his children how to handle, ignore, or otherwise survive the incessant nudgings and proddings of the government to conform to its needs. The significance of such a struggle between home and government may be reflected in the support of government for single‑parent households. In such homes, there is barely time to breathe, let alone think. Under such pressures, mothers will take help from whatever resources are available, and the government drones can then do a jig of happiness at the moms’ dependence. These are the real Hunger Games out there waiting for our children. And properly supportive fathers, given their hormonal heritage, may yet bend the curve toward individuation.
Children’s beginnings are still in the hands of engaged mothers, even at this late date in our cultural decline. But to be worthy of the crown of “engaged mother,” she should first have chosen the best father available. We can now define that relatively rare male as the one who can rationally resist submission to governmental authority. Having found such a person, our engaged mother should insist upon endowing her children with their father’s family name, thus giving him the dignity of having “skin” in the game. Such gracious presents given by each parent to the other will restart the civilization we have disdainfully fouled.
Let us begin our rededication to the principle of graciousness between members of couples by wishing a happy Fathers’ Day to all those who still observe it. May their numbers grow!