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Ed Smith: Backbones of the community


Nobody likes to see a man being kicked when he’s already down. Or a woman either, for that matter. Most of us relate to the person on the bottom of the pile when someone is being bullied or “ganged up” on. It’s the God-given quality in each of us to want to protect the weak and the vulnerable and the easy targets.

Ed Smith column head

Like husbands.

I am well aware that you now expect your beloved scribe to descend immediately into the realm of the facetious and downright silly. Given my writing history and the subject at hand, that’s not an unreasonable expectation. I could, for example, point out that I know of families who have raised 12 or 16 children — a fantastic achievement for all concerned.

But do you see any husbands getting any credit for seeing that all those little craft have been successfully launched on the ocean of life ready to navigate the storms and shoals thereof? Not quite. That’s usually left for the tributes to mothers on Mother’s Day. Very often husbands don’t even get credit for the laying of the keel. Truth is, they often don’t deserve it.

Husbands are among the great victimized of the Earth. No question about it. Usually they are regarded as the people taking advantage of the family situation rather than being victimized by it. Listen to the comments.

“George? George had nothing to do with raising those youngsters. He was working in Alberta almost half the year. Home for a couple of weeks every two months. Gertie had to do it all!”

“Billy? Billy spent his days helping his buddies repair their snowmobiles and small engines. He spent his nights drinking with them.”

“Walter? Walter loves his family but he loves his town, his church, his service organization and professional group even more. Their meetings take up practically all his time.”

You will notice that for the most part these are not “deadbeat dads.” These are husbands and fathers doing their bit for their friends and communities. Before I begin looking at your emails, let me say up front that whatever your perspective on all of this, you are probably right.

Perspective A: while husbands are away from home taking the “big job” money, do they miss something important — like watching their children grow up, their partners victims of their family situations?

Perspective B: if no takes up the challenge of keeping the church, the community, the service clubs going, what happens to those communities? If everyone stays home to respond to family responsibilities, who runs the councils, the churches, the school boards, hospital boards?

Perspective C: this is the ultimate dilemma. The real victims of course, are not my tongue-in-cheek characterizations of “victimized” husbands, but the challenge facing most small towns in our province. Where do we find the bodies to fuel the operations necessary to keep rural Newfoundland and Labrador functioning for the next several decades?

We will find them where we have always found them.

Among those with a great love for our past.

And an even greater faith in our future.

 

Ed Smith is an author who lives in Springdale. His email address is edsmith@nf.sympatico.ca.

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