Commentary | Father’s Day and America’s top domestic problem

Column

Larry ElderBy Larry Elder

THE SAGE FROM SOUTH CENTRAL

Larry Elder shares what his dad taught him about success and hard work

A powerful new documentary called “The Streets Were My Father” features three Chicago men, two Hispanics and one black, who grew up without fathers. All three did hard time for serious offenses, including murder.

The film, with no narrator, just lets the men talk. None blames “systemic racism.” All concede they made bad choices, but choices nonetheless. All talked about the pain they felt growing up without a father figure to instruct, scold, guide, motivate and instill confidence and direction. I highly recommend it.

In Barack Obama’s first book, “Dreams From My Father,” he talked about the hole in his soul, having last seen his father, briefly, when Obama was 10: “There was only one problem: my father was missing. He had left paradise (Hawaii), and nothing that my mother or grandparents told me could obviate that single, unassailable fact. Their stories didn’t tell me why he had left. They couldn’t describe what it might have been like had he stayed.”

A powerful new documentary called “The Streets Were My Father” features three Chicago men, two Hispanics and one black, who grew up without fathers. All three did hard time for serious offenses, including murder.

The film, with no narrator, just lets the men talk. None blames “systemic racism.” All concede they made bad choices, but choices nonetheless. All talked about the pain they felt growing up without a father figure to instruct, scold, guide, motivate and instill confidence and direction. I highly recommend it.

In Barack Obama’s first book, “Dreams From My Father,” he talked about the hole in his soul, having last seen his father, briefly, when Obama was 10: “There was only one problem: my father was missing. He had left paradise (Hawaii), and nothing that my mother or grandparents told me could obviate that single, unassailable fact. Their stories didn’t tell me why he had left. They couldn’t describe what it might have been like had he stayed.”

My dad tolerated no excuses and always gave my brothers and me the following advice: “Hard work wins. You get out of life what you put into it. You cannot control the outcome, but you are 100% in control of the effort. Before you complain about what somebody said or did to you, go to the nearest mirror and ask yourself, ‘What could I have done to change the outcome?’ And, no matter how hard you work, how good you are, bad things will happen. How you respond to those bad things will tell your mother and me if we raised a man.”

I wrote a book about the eight-hour conversation I had with this crusty old Marine, whose old-school discipline my brothers and I did not appreciate at the time. The hardback is called “Dear Father, Dear Son,” and the paperback is called “A Lot Like Me.”

Several readers who, like my dad, grew up without a father wrote to me and said that the book “changed their lives.” Many readers who, like my brothers and me, grew up with tough Depression-era World War II dads said the book changed how they saw their fathers.

Fathers matter.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal.


Larry Elder is a bestselling author and nationally syndicated radio talk show host. His latest book, “The New Trump Standard,” is available in paperback from Amazon.com and for Nook, Kindle, iBooks and GooglePlay. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an “Elderado,” visit www.LarryElder.com. Follow Larry on Twitter @LarryElder. T

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