Over the last week, I’ve been fascinated with the concept of hereditary rule. When I first began considering the subject, I immediately dismissed it as an archaic practice and a terrible basis for government. Being born to a king doesn’t make you a king, nor should it entitle you to a kingdom. The more I’ve thought about it, however, I’ve begun to see some interesting parallels and some redeeming qualities in the “royal blood” philosophy.
Just a few weeks ago, I spoke with a man who reminded me of myself. In fact, the similarities were alarming. We talked extensively and I found us to have many of the same interests. He was engaging, intelligent, and insightful. In spite of these similarities, our lives couldn’t have landed in more opposite locations. He never stuck with a career path and had been unable to find steady work, his marriage fell apart and he has very limited contact with his children, and he is admittedly without faith or long-term hope. As we talked and traced the trajectory of our lives, I finally realized one interesting difference between us. He came from a home without a father.
“Nature versus Nurture” is an age old question, which compares and contrasts two possible developmental catalysts. Those who would argue that nature is the primary consideration in development, would suggest that a life is a sum of genetics; That personality and traits can be traced back to DNA. Alternatively, the “nurture” crowd considers an individual’s environment and experiences to be a greater factor in the molding of an individual. Reasonable people agree that it is actually a combination of the two, but disagree on the proportions.
I have what I consider to be a unique perspective on the argument. I believe that nature is who you are, but nurture defines who you become. Humans enter this world completely self-centered and survivalist. Although innocent, we are essentially myopic narcissists. Basically evil. Through a lifetime of experiences and development, most are able to relate to others while gaining perspective and empathy; traits which lead to consideration for others. This same equation applies globally. Traits which are taught and exercised, like muscles, grow. In instances where a specific trait is not practiced, nature will prevail.
By relating this theory back to the conversation I detailed, above, it becomes obvious how the lack of a stable father could so drastically change the paths of two similar personalities. The life regrets the man in my conversation shared could have been avoided through experiencing my life. Namely the impact of my father. Alternatively, it is a sobering reminder of exactly where my nature could have led me, had I been born to someone else.
My dad set an example by working as hard as he could, in a job he didn’t enjoy. He passed this onto me, and my parents forced me to honor my commitments, usually at the expense of my own desire. He demonstrated love to my mom, treated her well, and praised her…even when she wasn’t around. He taught me how to treat a woman and has held me to these standards. My parents provided me with a safety net, in which failure wasn’t catastrophic. They encouraged me to be realistic, but allowed me the freedom to choose my own path without fear of abandonment. Lastly, they showed me faith; instilling a hope in me that God would always be the path to making my tomorrow better than my today.
Males are biologically wired to be fathers but not dads. Propelled by nature to procreate, yet to also remain strong, virulent, and independent. In my own life, I’ve struggled with giving up things I love. As a husband and father I watch far fewer sports, I rarely play video games, and I don’t often go out with friends. I remember watching a college football game one day, when Cailyn came to me with her shoes, which meant she wanted to go for a walk. My nature told me to hand her a cookie and make her wait, but I decided that it was a small but important exercise in our relationship. That day, I came up with a phrase which summarizes my dad and grandfather’s legacy. It is one I will teach to my children…
“Boys live. Men sacrifice.”
I’ve learned that we must continually practice the denial of our personal ambitions and instinct for the prosperity of our family. We must consciously seek to do that which is honorable, until it becomes our reformed instinct. We must teach in actions consistent with our words and live a life worth modeling. To do otherwise will simply continue the cycle of handicapping our children, as we fail to set an example of the man our boys should become and our daughters will someday look to marry. This is the impact of a father.
Thankfully, it’s never too late to be a dad. You may have had a poor example of a father or maybe even been one, but the opportunity still exists to reconcile and use your failures as an experience to make your children better than yourself.
Being born to royalty doesn’t necessarily make you a king…
Being trained by a king can.