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To the fathers

Father's Day
1941: Man and boy with the so-called ideal spade (harrow). Photo: Gunnar Lundh / Nordic Museum (CC BY-NC-ND)

"Few like father, none like mother." - Old Swedish proverb

Today, on Father's Day, an extra thought is given to all fathers in the country, not least my own. Fathers are rarely perfect, but if I know other fathers as I know myself, they toil - day in and day out - primarily to secure their family's present and their children's future.

Fathers have always worked not primarily for their own survival, but for the survival of their children. Fathers have worn out their bodies in the fields, in the forests, in the mines and on the seas. They have also sacrificed their lives by the millions on the battlefields of history to secure their children's unspent life chances, exchanging "a lower value for a higher one" as Vilhelm Moberg wrote in Resisting evil.

The fact that fathers are not perfect is also something that Vilhelm Moberg touched on in My Swedish history. This is very much true of our ancestors too:

"The truth about the fathers is that they by no means obeyed the ten commandments of God and lived blamelessly before the Lord. But they possessed certain notions of honour and glory, of honesty and integrity, which were not to be touched or in any way softened, and in this respect the present day is clearly inferior to them. Their valuation of nobility, for example, was so high that in our age it seems unrealistic. Man's honour and integrity demanded that he protect the weak, that he never stab an enemy from behind, that he never strike one who had already fallen. Above all, man's honour demanded that he never break a promise. Courage was a man's most cherished quality, cowardice his most despised. Strict compliance with these requirements hardly disposes a man for a quick career in our time, when the very disregard of them seems to be a prerequisite for success. The fathers held firmly to their beliefs and opinions - then come what may because of this stubbornness. They were resilient and untouchable."

The fathers hold firmly to their beliefs and opinions - then come what may because of this stubbornness. We are resilient and untouchable.

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