Fatherhood, Nation, and Emancipation
The nexus of fatherhood, nation, and emancipation is not obvious, we all agree.
If we looked harder and closer, however, we realize these things: that the Philippine nation has been fathered—and mothered too! —by the imagination to evolve a homeland that is free and emancipated from the clutches of oppression.
Even as we are reminded of June as the month of Philippine independence and the month reserved to celebrate the deeds of fathers around the world, we are bound to remember as well how the conception of emancipation involves nations and fathers.
For while nations are results of a political imagination to build a homeland of the brave and the free, nations carry with them as well the seed of contradictions, with that political imagination itself containing its own seed of destruction when the homeland is not for everyone but for a few.
Many nations—many nation-states—all over the world are still guilty of this thing.
While there is that public announcement that a homeland has been conceived as a ‘good place’—a ‘utopia’—not every conception has been coupled with practices that are intended to pursue the ends of the good place, which, in fine, also means the ‘good life’.
The solons of old talk of this as the common good.
The reality today is that this common good is not common as it is a common good for the few, indeed, an irony of ironies.
Many of the authors of all these forms of social injustices—the very reason for this absence of emancipatory practices—are themselves ‘fathers’ in the most literal meaning of the word.
Many of them are ‘fathers’ of nations, too.
Such contradictions are never more real when we look at nation-states with tyrannical leaders who claim that they are the most kind, most caring, and most sympathetic of the lot of fathers.
Such contradictions are never more real when we continue to be assaulted by domestic deaths because (a) men kill other men or (b) men kill their wives or lovers or intimate partners.
In this Day of Fathers, we can only hope for the best, our hopeful prayer our energy to go on believing that fathers ought not to forget their caring and nurturing side to build up families, people, communities, and homelands.
In this Day of Philippine Independence, we can only hope for the best for the Philippine homeland even as we continue to witness the rambunctious ambitions of fathers to turn the homeland into an Eden for the already cynical.
Observer editorial, June 2009