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The above is part of the title of a great hymn from the old church by William Pierson Merrill. We have chosen it as a rousing call to action for us men to shoulder our responsibilities as husbands, fathers, companions and contributing members of society. It is the need of the hour. 

Too many of our men are absentee fathers, abusive husbands and deadbeat providers. We have shirked the solemn charge to be shining examples and pillars in our homes and communities. As a result, so many of our young men grow up without a strong father figure to provide guidance and a nurturing and supportive environment. And not forgetting to mention the violence that young boys see being meted out to their mothers at the hands of abusive husbands. It is a sad mileau, especially since many boys grow up to be wife-beaters and abusers themselves, following in the sick footsteps of their dads. Studies have also shown that young girls who have been abused by their dads, often end up in dysfunctional relationships with abusive boyfriends and husbands. So sad! Let us break that vicious cycle.

Rise up, oh men! We have heard of cases where some men refuse to take no for an answer, and resort to forcible intercourse. Let us ever remember that no means no. We have also recently heard of cases where men resort to violence in cases where the woman wants to move on. Again, we urge our men not to venture down that deadly path with violence and murder in their hearts.

Rise up, oh men!  Our children are looking up to us. They expect us to be there to teach them to tie their laces and to ride a bike; to tell them a bedtime story; to read a bible story and tuck them in at night; to kiss them before turning out the lights. They expect us to give them rides on our backs; to push them in a swing; to play hop-scotch with them; to take them to the movies; to ask them how was their day; to comfort them when they’re having a tummy ache, or worse, a nightmare about a jumbie under the bed. They want to see us laugh, they want us to laugh with them.

Rise up, oh men! Our children want us to high-five them and give words of praise and commendation. They expect us to help them with their homework, to show an interest. They expect us to be at their school concerts with the video camera, proudly video-taping their performance in the school play. They expect us to be at the Parent/Teacher conferences. They expect us to be their biggest fan. Is that too much to ask of us fathers? We think not. Au contraire, nothing beats the joy of watching a child grow from a curious toddler to a young adult, eyes wide with wonder, followed by increasing self-confidence. It is the stuff of a fulfilled life.

Rise up, oh men! That was the call by Minister Louis Farrakhan at the first Million Man March on the National Mall in Washington DC, some 25 years ago. At that time, Martin Luther King III, gave a rousing speech reminiscent of his revered father, civil rights activist, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. In looking back, King III told CNN, “That was probably one of the largest demonstrations of Black men . . .  and it brought them together with a focus on bringing families together, [and men] assuming appropriate responsibilities.” On that historic day, many of the speakers decried the absenteeism among our fathers, and they urged the assembled throng to step up and be the difference that they would like to see in their families and communities.

Of course, absenteeism among Black fathers in places like the United States can be attributed to a host of factors including, our history of enslavement, poverty, systemic racism – the lack of opportunities for Black men, and excessive incarceration and killing of Black brothers, etcetera.  But that is another discussion for another time.

The theme for this year’s International Men’s Day, (celebrated yesterday) is BETTER HEALTH FOR MEN AND BOYS. It is a fitting one, especially for these times, because we see a developing crisis in some of our young men who are drifting aimlessly, descending into lives of unproductive pursuits and emotional immaturity. Rather than enhancing their families and communities, they drag them down. 

Interestingly, notwithstanding the fact that yesterday was dedicated to the contributions and achievements of men and boys, with a focus on how we can be even better, it is important not to forget our women. We subscribe to the maxim that beside every great man, is an equally great woman. George Washington had Martha, Napoleon had Josephine, Anthony had Cleopatra, Joseph had Mary, Obama had Michelle, and so on and so forth. You get the point. Seems, we men need the wonderful women in our lives, not as subservient or junior partners, but as equals in their own right. We need our women for our emotional and physical well-being; our sense of completeness and fulfillment.

Consider, if you will, James Brown’s, IT’S A MAN’S WORLD: This is a man’s world /
But it wouldn’t be nothing, nothing, not one little thing, without a woman or a girl / He’s lost in the wilderness / He’s lost in bitterness, he’s lost, lost
.” Hmmm! On International Men’s Day 2020, we think it apropos to also celebrate our women. Big-up to the women! They stand beside us, not behind us!

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