The streets were my father

Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

Despite what collectivists claim, it doesn’t take a village to raise a child. Ideally, it takes a father and a mother. We call this the nuclear family. It is the basis any civilized society. Courtesy of the left-wing, we don’t live in an ideal world. Instead we live in a cynically disposable climate, where the value of a positive father figure is routinely ridiculed or discounted as, at best, unnecessary for the optimal successful outcome of their children. “The Streets Were My Father: A Story of Hopelessness and Redemption”  is a riveting documentary that relates the life stories of three men who grew up in Chicago in either abusive or otherwise fatherless homes.

Carlos Colon, Louis Dooley and Leslie Williams are unflinchingly honest as they describe their youthful descent down soul-crushing paths which follow an all-too-familiar pattern. In their world, life had increasingly little value. Unstable homes and dangerous neighborhoods, gang life, deceptively glittered as the golden answer. Gangs provided a family, of sorts, much needed protection, and supplied the ego-enhancing feelings of belonging.  Soon small crimes turned into big crimes, petty theft turned into grand theft, armed robbery and murders followed. All of these illegal and evil acts fed an increasingly demanding inner fire fueled by anger. It’s a story of human failing, a story as old as the Bible itself.

Inevitably, all three ended up in jail or prison, with Louis being sentenced to life plus 100 years. Where’s the hope in that?  Executive Producer Lee Habeeb, and CEO of Our American Films/Production, crafts the men’s stories so viewers are witness to the life and destiny-changing events and choices they make. In the journey, each man comes to the end of his own rope. Louis, Carlos and Leslie all commit their lives to Jesus Christ. They all testify to the unconquerable power that transformed their lives, melted their hardened hearts, and bathed them in a redeeming glow of forgiveness, from both God and man. It is amazing, in the true sense of the word to observe not only how they were changed, but how they have gone on to help others change. Quite importantly, they all speak of the deep comfort they have in finally having a father, albeit a heavenly one, and their belief that they will be spending eternity with that Father.

Many mothers, and single mothers especially, are unsurpassed in their devotion, care and provision for their children. Extended family or friends often play important roles. This movie focuses on the indispensable role fathers play. Some boys and girls are blessed to grow up in a loving home with a caring and responsible father. A responsible father provides for and protects them, as well as instilling in them, from an early age, the positive values and a clear understanding of right and wrong. Strong fathers also impart another valuable life lesson, providing consequences for their children’s choices. The absence of a good father, or the presence of an abusive father with criminal or substance abuse behavior, almost inevitably leads to heartache, bad choices, and low self-esteem. That invariably leads the child to wander or rush, alone or in bad company, down dark trails that lead to catastrophic outcomes. In the movie, all three men stress how much they longed for a loving father, someone who was a good role model, and who would help them do the right thing.

The statistics surrounding fatherless homes are astounding. 85% of children with behavioral disorders: 20x the average. 90% of homeless and runaway: 32x the average. 71% of high school dropouts come from fatherless homes: 9x the average. 70% of Americans believe fatherless homes, not systemic racism, is our biggest social problem. There are almost 2.3 million people incarcerated today in America. 85% of youths in prison are from fatherless homes, which is 20 times the average of those from a home with a father. You do the math.

“The Streets Were My Father” is clearly a movie with a mission. As the men’s stories unfold, their emotions run the gamut from disappointed, sadness, grieving, hopelessness, anger, shame and then, miraculously, the emotions change to joyful and contentment. Regardless of socio-economic background, the film’s upbeat and inviting message of hope and redemption is available to everyone. Fittingly, it’s for sale now, and straight through and beyond Father’s Day, June 20th. Perhaps we citizens should purchase 525 copies and send them to each member of Congress. But on the off chance that politicians will fail to act…again, the rest of had better get our own copy so we can begin to make our own change.

Chris Salcedo

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