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My Unconditional Love For The Fatherless (My Brother & Me) On Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day to the most flawed of fathers, my dad Jose Franco Sr.

A month before Father’s Day, I noticed that one of my friends (Trump supporter on Facebook) didn’t invite me to his daughter’s wedding. I must admit, not being invited bothered me. In my friends defense, we live 2,000 miles from each other and outside of social media pleasantries, we rarely communicate. Yet, I couldn’t help thinking I wasn’t invited because he didn’t like a book I wrote, dedicated with love to Donald Trump titled, “How To Get Better At Things You Don’t Think You’re Bad At By 2020”. It is common knowledge Donald Trump, unlike my brother Rafael and I (single mom Bronx NY) grew up with a stern, yet supportive dad.

What need is there to weep over parts of life when the whole of it calls for tears. We get weepy and furious not simply because our plans have failed, our plans failed and we expected them not too. Fortunately, through constructive self talk, I’ve learned to disappoint myself gently before life has a chance to do so, violently. I often find strength in a consoling pessimism. I look at life under the aspect of eternity, as thou I’m looking down at the earth from far away. From this perspective, growing up without a father doesn’t seem so shocking and so large. We always use passion to exaggerate our here and now, but our reasoned intelligence gives us access to a unique intelligent perspective in which we participate in, that we can use instead of railing against the status quo, we can opt for clear eyed serenity instead.

Fortunately, all habits (good or bad) follow a simple three step process. This cycle, known as The Habit Loop, says that each habit consists of: The Trigger: the event that starts the habit. The Routine: the behavior that you perform, the habit itself. The Reward: the benefit that is associated with the behavior. There are five primary ways that a new habit can be triggered. If you understand each of them, then you can select the right to help improve your self talk. The 5 triggers are: time, location, preceding event, emotional state and other people.

The key to choosing a successful trigger is to pick a trigger that is very specific and immediately actionable. Envision a gathering of two siblings who disagree on whether to call their flawed dad on Father’s Day, but are willing to mutually acknowledge that the other may see some real threats more clearly than the other one does. Letting go (unconditional love) is the simplest way to get closer to others since happiness is a choice we have to continuously work at daily. The only permanent solution to your problems is to go inside and let go of the part of you that seems to have so many problems with reality. Once you do that, you’ll be clear enough to deal with what’s left. Actions based on true beliefs aren’t guaranteed to go better than actions based on false ones; but they’re much more likely too. Actions based on false beliefs go well only by luck.

Normally, we hate being made to feel small. We can’t stand to be reminded of our insignificance, we get affronted and resentful. By embracing our insignificance, the individual can be less personal about disagreements once one realizes that one is only saying that one’s point of view is more probable than one’s opponent’s, not that one is certainly right and he or she certainly wrong. Relativism discourages people to embrace their insignificance, because the beliefs are not false from the point of view of the believer. In other words, fallibilism gives us pause by reminding us we may be wrong. It emphasizes the risk that we are acting on false beliefs. When Donald Trump discouraged respect for rational standards, the confusion he creates is a smokescreen other politicians have also used to hide behind in order to avoid proper scrutiny, even though I’m sure they don’t all intend it that way. If I accuse a politician of falsehood and he replies that ‘false’ is a dangerous word, people should laugh. We’d be in trouble if instead their reaction was to nod with respect. For words by themselves are harmless, the danger lies in the choices we make in response to words.

Unfortunately, unconditional love isn’t innate, an individual must first choose to see this for him/herself. I’m hoping most folks who didn’t grow up with their dads haven’t become jaded and their minds aren’t impenetrable or opaque. I believe we all possess a superpower, a capacity to give people something we can be sure they fundamentally require, founded on a primordial and basic insight into human nature: that all of us are in deep need of reassurance. This is why fear is the easy default setting for so many of us – so many of us are afraid of the leap of faith required to practice unconditional love. If this sounds like you, you are not alone. Despite not growing up with my father and avoiding contact with him for most of my life, I called my dad for Father’s Day (2014). I could hear the joy in the frail voice of this most imperfect man. For the first time in my life, I spoke to my dad regularly. He died six weeks after the only Father’s Day we shared. I’m glad I was able to say goodbye. In a world that often seems binary, it seems we only have two options – we’re either cowards (closed hearted) or fools. For unconditional love are just two words until somebody (a fool) comes along and gives them meaning.

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Jose Franco

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