Originally published April 23rd, 2006 at americanchronicle.com
Years ago I had an out of body experience, sort of. Not to worry dear, concerned readers, I was no where near death or even close to getting hurt. Needless to say, I hope I still have quite a number of good years left in me. No, nothing quite so dramatic happened to me.
It happened because I was yelling at my kids. I don’t remember what they had done to incur my wrath, or even whether it was one or both of them I was yelling at. It was probably something silly like having the TV up too loud or making too much noise while I was trying to concentrate. You know, they were probably just being kids in the wrong place at the wrong time and that upset me. So, there I was yelling at my kids and I suddenly decide to have this out of body experience. There I am, kind of in two places at once, watching my body yelling at my kids and wondering what they had done that was so wrong and why I was so angry.
Then I had an epiphany. I realized I was becoming my father. I suddenly knew why, at times, he would become so angry with us when we were little. It can be difficult and daunting bringing up children. Sometimes emotions just get the best of you. I also realized that I was doing something that at one point in time I had sworn I would never do. I had sworn I would never lose my temper with my children when I became a father. Granted, I may have sworn it in the naïveté of my childhood, but it was still a promise I had made to myself and I was breaking it. I calmed myself down, apologized to my kids for yelling at them and went back to my business. Later, I called my dad and told him what had happened. I told him I was becoming him and we had a good laugh. I also found out, through conversations with many of my good buddies who are also my age, this is a phenomenon many men experience.
So, here it is years later and I’m still like my father, only maybe a bit more even tempered. Thinking back on this incident, it occurs to me that maybe our country is experiencing something similar. Maybe we are becoming something we never planned on being. Indeed, maybe we are becoming the very thing we swore we never would become. We were born of an imperial monarchy and we swore to ourselves we would never allow that to happen to us. We promised ourselves we’d never allow one branch of government to become more powerful than the others. We wrote a constitution full of checks and balances to ensure future generations would be certain of having the same freedoms and benefits our forefathers had. We gave our citizens rights so that they would be certain to be heard and properly represented in the halls of congress.
Perhaps events have occurred in this country which have caused our emotions to get the best of us. Perhaps we have become a bit too angry. Maybe we should just calm down and allow ourselves to become a little more rational. We should give it some thought before making new laws that restrict our freedoms or go to war with another country that may have had nothing to do with our problems. After all, do we really want to become like the repressive fathers we were conceived from? Do we really want to become like the countries our forefathers fled?