Tuesday, November 8, 2011

James Allen – An American Hero

For many if not most Americans, an unemployed electrician cannot possible rise to that special honor of not merely being called a hero, but an American hero. As if that rings loader than any ceremonial bell heard since the days old Greece or Rome’s age of Caesar. There were men of the American Revolution, Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson; later came Andrew Jackson who “killed the bank;” the uncivil conflict between North and South brought forth Old Ironsides, Robert E. Lee and Ulysses Grant; Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders were followed by Sargent Alvin C. York in the First World War. Seventy years ago, the “greatest generation went to war in Europe and the Pacific arena, where many heroes emerged from ashes and death.
We in America tend to honor “war heroes.” This is what makes an unknown electrician from North Carolina an American hero today. The war we are engaged in presently exceeds military actions in Iraq, Afghanistan and other, unpublicized conflicts around the globe. James Allen’s war gets nearly no press coverage, and is not acknowledged by the powers that be to exist. Yet his war is quite real, and it has spread around the world. It is a global war. It is the war against fathers and fatherhood.
Like many readers, the tern fatherhood causes one’s mind to wander. Concepts like time honored tradition come to mind. Yet reflecting on that term causes caution to creep; time honored tradition is taboo in mainstream America for contemporary generations. Many associate this concept with secret societies or cults, or with “outdated religious beliefs and practices.” For some it means another offence: patriarchy. Too many leap quickly to assume all the above are equivalent to “organized religion, the cause of all wars in history.”
All these erroneous associations partly explain how and why the war against fatherhood came to be.
The fact that time honored traditions, fatherhood, patriarchy, and organized religions have held civilized culture together for thousands of years, despite its divisions and wars, allowing progress to occur . . . has no meaning for a growing majority of people who read no books, hold no consistent beliefs, are mis-educated mostly by mass media, and consequently despair of a hopeful future.
Nevertheless, fatherhood is a complex of many things …  like a forest; it is more than the sum of all its component trees.
Enemies of fatherhood would have us believe that there is no good forest; that all trees ought to be considered individually, and each is only as good as wood they produce, or fuel, or heat when they burn. Only in their destruction do they have value, and the value of a tree is a metric. Likewise, men are only as good as what they provide in tangible terms: a gun in a war, a source of money or entertainment, an occasional ride. Too, the value of an unemployed electrician is a rather low metric, not worth paying attention to. This is quite wrong.
There is no metric to measure what James Allen has done.
Unlike “traditional” heroes of military wars whose feats can be measured, such as those of Sergeant York, reputed to have killed 28 German soldiers and capturing 132 others, James Allen walked alone for twenty-one days across wilderness in Columbia, risking his life to reach the American Embassy in Bogotá. He was turned away at the embassy gate, refused water or food by his fellow countrymen, who instead gave him directions to travel across the hostile city to find a cheap hotel. Allen was a lone soldier in an undeclared, hidden war on a mission to retrieve his kidnapped infant son in a strange land.
The war of alleged terrorists against civilization is a false war. It is a one-sided fiction too complex to explain here, so it is saved for later posts.
Yet, there is an ongoing actual global war against fatherhood. It has its own heroes even though the battlefields of this war are taking many forms, too many to define in one post. James Allen is one hero of this war, and I’m sure there are many. A small number become celebrities; it is too early to say, but perhaps seduction into the world of celebrity negates their effectiveness. It appears to be so. Still, each man involved in this war that involves all men has his role to play. Whether or not one is effective, or survives the conflict upright is to be determined. This war will define the value of men in relation to women, children, and collective society. For most males alive today the direction this war takes will determine the value men place on their own lives. Many are losing both their self worth and their lives in this struggle every day, unknown to nearly everyone, silently, in darkness of despair.