I was reminded that today is Father's Day, and being a father myself, may be I should not be writing about it as I have vested interest. But then again, I am also a son, and hence I have the right to be writing about as much as the next person.
Well, unlike mothers' day, I could not be wishing anyone a Happy Father's Day, since bapak is no longer around. Of course I could wish friends and relatives, but somehow I thought Father's Day pale in comparison to Mother' Day in terms of significance, so I thought I should not.
So with no neckties to buy, no card to send, and no phone call to make, today is like any other day of the year.
But I was reminded by an article in International Herald Tribune (Friday issue) that there are things we should be doing instead of the above commercial things. Nicholas D Kristol reckons that in his article published last Friday, Dad Will Really Like This.
He said, "For Father's Day, let's forgo the neckties and give instead to father friendly organizations." For Father' Day, he reckons, tends to be less a celebration of fatherhood than a triumph of commercialization.
He suggested that donation be made to giant rats - you read me right! - which Apopo, a Dautch pharmaceutical company had trained to detect mines (they are light enough not to ignite it) and also, of all things, detect tuberculosis. For USD36, you can buy a year's supply of banana for them. Americans, according to Mr Kristof, spend USD9.8 billion a year for Father's Day alone, which is enough to to assure education for every single child on planet Earth currently not receiving education.
For more ideas, please visit National Fatherhood Institute (www.fatherhood.org), an organization which works to support dads and keep them engaged in their children's lives. There are evidence that absent fathers create vicious cycle: boys grows up without positive male role models, get into trouble and then become absentee father themselves.
In our own context, we can still celebrate Father's Day by doing something meaningful in our dad's name. We could give alms and sadaqah for orphanage or mosque instead of celebrating it the western way. For one, we could be the fathers for many children without father or fatherly figure in their lives. It is better to be doing good deeds in his name, rather than buying stuff for father which he does not need.
It would stop Father's Day (or Mather's Day) from being commercialized for the benefit of corporations.
I am not sure of there are similar organizations here in Malaysia - I am sure and I hope that we do have them here. A paradigm shift as advocated by the columnist of the International Herald Tribune is warranted even here in Malaysia.
Let's give to them and help others, instead of buying more ties or pelikat or baju melayu for our dads, for which they will feign ecstasy and we will pretend to believe our protestations of pleasure.
This is especially true if our dads are no longer around. I am sure they would smile in pleasure at our deeds on their behalf, no matter where they are.