Posts Tagged shame

Utah Fathers’ Climate Denial Leaves Chilling Family Legacy

As the climate denial hysterics begin to fade into history and take their place beside witch burning, Jim Crow, McCarthyism and other embarrassments in American history, I pause to ponder the emotional scars wrought upon the children of climate denier fathers.

Throughout history, children have been victims, by accident of birth to men who stood proudly and loudly on the wrong side of history. Consider the shame and humiliation of the children of white supremacists and racists, Neocons and Talibans, Nazis and Red-baiters, polygamists, homophobes and child-molesters.

Do the climate deniers ever consider the effect of their intellectual and moral short-comings on their children?

Never mind for a moment the life-long scars of the adult children of these backwater ignoramuses. What about the innocent school age children, forced in their own homes to witnesses in silent humiliation, the hysterics of a parent blogging about sun spots and global cooling and publicly airing deluded fantasies about world-wide conspiracies and global collusion between evil environmentalist, greedy scientists, media and governments and their polar bear accomplices?

What about these beautiful children who go to school each day to learn science and things like sustainability, energy conservation and correct principles of stewardship of the Earth with other children from sane homes with intellectually honest, responsible and moral parents?

What could be worse than being ashamed of your own parents, of harboring such an embarrassing secret, of growing into adulthood while shoving the family skeleton further into the closet with each passing year as global warming devastates the planet and entire populations of people and species disappear?

I cringe at the thought of older children, returning home to say Sanpete, Clinton and St. George Utah, for the holidays, year after year, to endure yet again the troubled, painful silence at the family dinner table, like a slowly metastasizing cancer, eased only by the promise of it’s abrupt end just in time for father’s quotidian intellectual nourishment and sole, sustaining validation at the hands of false prophets; Glenn Beck or Bill O’Reilly on the boob tube.  “Fox time is family time” becomes the unutterable truth and the family shame.

It cannot be easy to grow up resenting a father who loved you with everything he had. It cannot be fun to rue the thought of holidays at home, to invent excuses not to go and to consider using them. What is the cost of the sin of a lie that would spare you the predictably painful, surreal, albeit blessedly temporary visit to your parents and your ancestral home of shame?

What is the psychological cost to a child of not being able to share and celebrate with your parents the joy of your new life, a full happy, exciting one on your own terms, one surrounded by intellectually curious friends and the freedom to appreciate abstract art or a career in science, or the freedom to actually care about species extinction and your carbon foot print, and the freedom to love people you would never bring home for fear of embarrassment?

What must it be like to build a new life as an adult only to realize that the father who was to be your role model, whom you WANTED to be your role model, has become instead a manifestation of everything wrong in the world, an archetype that informs what you will explicitly reject as you build a new life and family without children because the earth has become a cruel place that can no longer guarantee a full life or natural death.

And what of the inescapable realization of the price your mother has paid, the suffering SHE has endured for the mistake of marrying a man whose ignorance and insecurity is exceeded only by his stubbornness?

And what, what of a life, a life condemned to be remembered with hurt, big hurt for a father, proud and loving man whose entire life was betrayed by a false righteousness, born, bought, paid for and at the ongoing mercy of a few cruel charlatans in the persons of Beck, Hannity, Limbaugh, O’Reilly, Murdoch and people like them?

And what of the injustice of when happy childhood memories which in adulthood become sad and soul crushing reminders of a family poisoned by a father’s life squandered in righteous ignorance?

How does one integrate once fond memories of sitting on the front porch, perched on a father’s lap, bathing in his warmth and the security of his strong arms listening to him reminisce for the one-hundredth time, as if it were the first time, about how he and his siblings used to skate on the frozen pond at the edge of the field by the river before it stopped flooding and freezing or they would dance in the moonlight to the chorus of chirping bullfrogs on hot summer nights, before they disappeared along with the insects they used to feed on?

What of a son or daughter remembering as a child, how everyone would laugh when Dad would get so enraged by the deep-throated guy on the radio, that he would get up and shake his fist at a Volvo driving by, or how proud he was of you when you screamed “damned environmentalists” with such innocent indignation in front of all the neighbors at meeting about Scofield Reservoir? How sickening it must be to realize your childhood was a string of empty misconceived bonding moments with your Father?

I mourn for the injustice of the children and grandchildren of such selfish fathers, like the one in this video.

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