Former president Jimmy Carter spoke recently at Community Renewal's 20th anniversary event.
Men, you matter.
Love his politics, hate them or fall somewhere in the middle – wherever you find yourself on the political spectrum, it’s hard to deny that Jimmy Carter, our 39th president, has done many wonderful things for needy people since leaving office.
I recently had the chance to hear Carter speak at Community Renewal International’s 20th Anniversary Celebration. In his speech, Carter joked that he “enjoys being a former president” before getting down to more serious business and talking about community renewal. Much of his speech was devoted to poverty-alleviation work he has spearheaded in his home state through The Atlanta Project, but one statement in particular caught my attention and wouldn’t let go.
The former president said that one of the two leading indicators of poverty is “families that have no man living in the house.”
Allow me to translate that for you: Husbands, fathers, men – you matter.
Despite the media images we are constantly bombarded with that marginalize men and their roles in the family, portraying us alternately as humorous bumbling sidekicks in the family or completely unnecessary, you matter. Despite the fact that we are working toward – and absolutely should be working toward – gender equality in the workplace, you matter. Despite the fact that many women should be commended for doing an extraordinary job carrying their weight and ours, you matter.
Allow me to take a step further than what Carter indicated and say that, for reasons that go far beyond your financial contribution to the family, you matter. In a speech called Fatherhood Facts, the late Dr. Ken Hutcherson, a former NFL linebacker who served as pastor of Antioch Bible Church in Kirkland, Wash., until his death in 2013, cited several key statistics regarding fatherlessness in America, including:
*63 percent of youth suicides involve fatherless homes.
*Children with involved fathers are 70 percent more likely to stay in school.
*75 percent of teen patients in chemical abuse centers are from fatherless homes.
*90 percent of homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes.
*Girls without an involved father are 71 percent more likely to have children while still teenagers.
You can watch the entire Hutcherson speech on YouTube under “Hutch: Fatherhood Facts,” but the bottom line, men, is this – you matter.
By Scott Rutherford