And speak naught against evil and hate;
If to live in peace means to close my eyes,
to the bigotry and trees that prevail;
if to live in peace means to plug my ears
When the woe-begone weep at my door;
Then I’m not content to live in peace,
But would rather I live at WAR!
For to live in peace means to open my mouth,
And to speak out for righteous and true;
For to live in peace means to uncover my eyes,
To act – to kill wrong in its youth;
For to live in peace means to unplug my ears
When the call of the oppressed is heard;
It will only be when these rights I possess,
That I can live completely unstirred.
Geraldyne F. Lee
My aunt wrote this many, many years ago. I used to glance at it while it hung on the wall of my parent’s home as I grew up. A few years ago while I was moving into my new apartment after my divorce, I asked them if I could take the copy they had back to New York.
Shortly after I hung it up in my place and re-read it, I realized that I actually began to live these exact words.
When I read it now, it speaks volumes.
I have a new passion. Music will always be my first love, but my recent life experience has led me down a new path-one that I never expected. Divorce can have a major impact on a family. It can affect you emotionally, psychologically and especially financially. I was affected in every possible way, including spiritually. I had a complete change of consciousness after I saw the injustices that occur in the family court system first hand. I couldn’t believe what was happening to me.
As I walked out of the courthouse after my settlement on July 9, 2008, I realized that I had battled not only my ex-wife, but I won a war with an extremely biased court system. Nothing was going to stop me from keeping ALL of my money but more importantly, access to my children that I knew was best for both myself and my ex. I was not going to be a ‘Disney Dad’ and see my kids every other weekend. I sure wasn’t paying anyone child support.
After several therapy sessions, months of reflection and research, I began to figure things out. It dawned on me that we have many unrealistic expectations with regard to marriage and divorce. Most people seem to think that if, for instance, things don’t work out with you and your partner/spouse, you get divorced the father leaves and the mother gets paid child support and/or spousal support and the kids see their dad every other weekend. Everything will be ok after that.
It’s not ok.
This should be the case only if that is what happened before the divorce took place. I feel that what the children had during the marriage should be what the children have after the divorce. Why should it be any different? Children need their mother just as much as they need their father.
It is true that life is drastically different when families have more than one home, but we all need to remember that every divorce is different. Each scenario has its own challenges. I feel there needs to be a higher standard for divorce cases where equality in parenting is the end goal.
After my settlement and as time went on, I came to understand many of the laws in the state of New York and how things really work. I started hearing from several friends who unfortunately, had no knowledge of what to do during their divorce proceedings. I began asking people questions about their divorces and found they kept receiving poor advice from their lawyers, friends and family. It appears they knew no other alternative than the scenario I described. Most regret the choices they made. I later studied the history of divorce, became more interested in how relationships can be improved, marriage customs and laws around the world, custody issues and began to connect the dots. I discovered that we have a real cultural problems that need immediate attention.
We have a culture of divorce.
I see a direct link between our divorce culture and widespread fatherlessness. Poverty, crime, sexual promiscuousness, gang culture, drug dependency, domestic violence and a host of other social ills are symptoms of the larger problem that stems from generations of children growing up without fathers in the home. We seem to have lowered our expectations of what is acceptable. The realization that our society is comfortable with normalizing fatherlessness has been a wake up call for me.
We need to make significant cultural changes in and effort to strengthen the family bond that I see being systematically dismantled. The contributions mother and father make with rearing of children are equally important. The time has come to rethink the way we handle divorce, especially when children are involved. I certainly did. I am living proof that there are alternatives to conventional wisdom.
I can’t live in peace until there is a radical shift in consciousness with regard to the importance of men and fathers in our society. People insist on writing men out of the picture, but I insist on debunking this myth and proving why we are needed.
I cannot live in peace until I see changes in our courts so that bias towards mothers has been eradicated and fathers are treated with equal respect. I cannot live in peace until our city, state and federal domestic relation laws are modified to reflect modern life in America. There will no peace if fathers continuously are pushed to the margins of family life. The absence of fathers has already taken a massive toll of the black family and is now affecting our larger society.
I can only live completely unstirred….when the notion that fathers are irrelevant is once again….unacceptable.