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Of farmers and fathers.
Listen to the broadcast of You Tell Me on KTBB AM 600, Friday, February 8, 2013.
If you watched Super Bowl XLVII into the fourth quarter you saw a commercial for Dodge Ram trucks that was narrated by an excerpt from a speech given in 1978 by radio broadcasting icon Paul Harvey. He was speaking to the Future Farmers of America. Here’s the lead sentence.
“And on the eighth day, God looked down upon his planned paradise and said, ‘I need a caretaker.’ So God made a farmer.”
Harvey went on to list the things expected of an American family farmer, things synonymous with the breed some would say – traits such as hard work, sacrifice, charity, respect for life, devotion to family and fear of God – punctuating each such assertion with the refrain, ‘…so God made a farmer.” In his signature style, Paul Harvey painted a vivid word picture of a decent, self-reliant, confident man worthy of the love of his family and the respect of his neighbors.
It is a picture utterly devoid of cynicism.
The commercial is worth watching again on YouTube. And then, watch it a second time and this time substitute the word “father” every time Paul Harvey says “farmer.”
As it happens, the virtues of the American farmer as extolled by Harvey are the self-same virtues we look for in fathers – and for which there is no substitute when no father is around.
Much that plagues our society at the cost of billions of dollars spent to little lasting effect, would simply disappear if more homes had fulltime fathers in them.
The high dropout rates, poverty, addiction, crime, suicide, urban decay, chronic unemployment, dependency, creeping hopelessness and social unrest that bedevils so much of our society would largely recede if fathers were re-involved in the lives of the nearly half of American children that are born to unwed mothers.
The boys that seek the affirmation of malicious gangs, and wind up dead or incarcerated before their 25th birthdays, would have entirely different lives if they had fathers teaching them how best to be men.
The young girls that allow themselves to be used by irresponsible young boys solely for the purpose of sexual gratification would benefit from seeing the way a committed husband treats his wife and the children that they together create.
Children who everyday saw a father leaving the house to go to work – to earn the money necessary to provide food, clothing, shelter and luxuries both large and small – would, upon reaching adulthood, be much more likely to work themselves to earn the necessities and luxuries of life.
If we more often than we currently do saw men who respect the bonds of marriage, who respect the women with whom they share the capacity to create life in God’s own image, men who first and always see it as their duty to protect and nurture their families; much of the need for the expensive, ham-handed social programs of government would simply vanish.
What struck me about the Dodge Super Bowl commercial is that without necessarily meaning to, Paul Harvey showed that the man that brings life from the Earth on a family farm is cut from the same cloth as the man that brings life into the world from a committed relationship with his wife.
It turns out that God made farmers and fathers for the very same purpose.