Today is a day for fathers. Today, all around me, people are praising their fathers, appreciating their fathers, showing their fathers that their endless labours of love have not gone unnoticed. Today our fathers are the centres of our attention, the axes of our small universes. And so today, setting aside all my musings and discoveries about truth, arbitration, doubt, knowledge and what not, I think it fitting to focus the purpose of my letter on you Father, the Father of all fathers. I understand that by Universal Family tradition the Day of Fathers was the nineteenth of the third month, but I already spent that day writing about my companion, and so I feel in many ways that you are owed this missive.
I would love to praise you Father, to shower you with the kinds of words I have heard uttered by my fellow men on this celebratory day. I would love to tell you how grateful I am for all that I have, how wonderful this life is that you have given me. And it is wonderful. I am not as affluent as some of your other children, but I am satisfied. By your grace I have never wanted for anything; all the things I have needed to ensure a comfortable and happy life have been provided me. I have had friends genuinely concerned about my wellbeing; I have had family to support and shelter me; I have had a mother that cares for and nurtures me; and I have had father that guides and protects me. I have, quite frankly, had it all, and on days such as this, when I think on the things my earthly father has done for me, I am filled with what I expect other children felt as they showered their fathers with praise.
It hasn’t always been perfect, my relationship with my father. I have not always liked some of the decisions he has taken. There have been days when I wished I was not his son, days when I hoped to see him vanish. As I have advanced in age however, I have learned to see the reason behind many of his actions. I have come to understand that he loves me, that he has sacrificed a great deal for me and for my siblings, and that all he does he does with the hopes that he would be able to provide us with better opportunities and better lives than he and his brethren had. On a day like this, thinking on things that he has done, I can appreciate some of his work. I can appreciate my father. We may disagree on his methods, but there comes with the understanding that his intentions are good a certain respect. He is only human, after all, much like the rest of us, and expecting absolute perfection from him is simply expecting failure.
With you, however, the situation is quite different. Of course I understand that a lot of what my earthly father has been able to do for me, he has only been able to do because of you. In fact he, the staunch Universalist that he is, would say that you have been doing these things through him. With requisite humility he would say that any feelings of appreciation I feel towards him should be directed to you, for he would have been powerless without your help, purposeless without your guidance. And therein lies the rub, dearest Father, for while I can accurately conclude that my father has done no more for me than he has for my siblings, I cannot say the same for you. I have looked at the world around me, at your other children both within the House and outside it. I have stared at your creation, from the lowliest pauper to the highest prince, and what I have seen has not convinced me of your benevolence. It has in fact nearly convinced me of the exact opposite.
There are glaring inequalities amongst your children, dear Father. In the same manner that some live in comfort and abundance, others live without their most basic needs. In the same manner that some are surrounded by friends and family, others, through no fault of their own, are surrounded by foes and demons, placed in these unfortunate situations by no more than an accident of birth. In the same manner that I have never had to want for anything, even now that I have left your House and spoken critically of your person, there are countless that have dedicated themselves completely to you and yet suffer daily, bearing pain upon pain all for your sake.
Ignoring your children and looking upon your world we are met yet again with the same problem. For every single beautiful day, fresh of air and warm of feeling, there are days of such immense cold and darkness it is a wonder they even exist. It has been ages since I sat to peruse the words of your Book but I remember what it said after it had described your amazing works of creation. It said that this earth was good. That you looked upon your creation, upon all that you had ever made, and you concluded that it was perfect, just as you wished. I remember thinking on this as a child, remember looking at the horrors around me: the beggars in the street, ravaged by disease; the stories of floods displacing people and destroying homes; the tales of earthquakes crushing towns, and I remember wondering: Where is the good in this? Your world, your good world, it seems, would like nothing more than to be done with your children, to wipe itself clean of our existence. We have to build houses, take drugs, wear clothes, and employ vast amounts of accessorising in order to give ourselves a fighting chance; and no sooner are we done with these than are we reminded, often in a manner most brutal, of the fragility of our tiny constructed domiciles, of the frailty of these forms we call bodies.
And then there is the issue of the nature of your children. I have oft mentioned this in my other letters, lamenting on how lacking we are when compared to you, our Father. As you know, I left the House because of your apparent absence, because I seeking you had never once seen you. In my younger days, when I voiced my doubts about this wonderful and perfect Father everyone seemed to talk about, I was told to look around me, told that I would see you in your works. Well Father, on what better work am I to focus my attention than on your greatest work of all: your children? I must say that I have looked at my brethren Father, and what I have found is not promising.
Looking at the things we do to each other, the horrible acts of murder, theft, rape, betrayal, discrimination, that we do with ever increasing viciousness to each other, it is hard, very hard, to believe that we have a perfect Father. We are supposedly made in your image, cast in your mould, and yet every single thing we do spits in the face of this notion. Our minds are weak, easily falling prey to Doubt and falsehoods; our hearts are rank and dark, often compelling us to do the most horrible things to even those that we care very deeply for. And we were the last thing you made, Father, the pinnacle of your already perfect creation.
I wish I could say, much like those I left in the House, that the few goods things I have seen on your earth are enough to cause me to forget the bad. But they are not. In a world where more of your children for most of their history have lived in conditions most deplorable, in a world where they are supposed to have a Father much more powerful than the one that nurtured and cared for me growing up, it is difficult to believe that this Father is good, or that he has done his best. It is difficult for me to look upon you with appreciation and praise, to acknowledge, with even the slightest hint of approval, the work that you have done.
Now, I would be remiss if I did not say that I am well aware of the answers the House has given to some of the problems I have listed so far. I would also be remiss if I did not say that my months of thought and observation have largely led me to view these answers with scepticism. Adamant that you are perfect, dearest Father, they have laid the responsibility of the earth’s issues with us, the children. You, blameless before men, holiest in all the universe, cannot be responsible for all the evil that we see. No. We, your weak and frail children, found a way to damage your perfect creation. Your Book says this, the elders confirm it. And years of listening to this, spoken by various House members in various ways, have revealed the primary progenitors of these issues: free will and its direct consequence, sin. Powerful things these are, Father, for they effectively free you of all responsibility, absolve you of all blame. They tell us, on this Day of Fathers, that we are the cause of our problems, not the being responsible for all that we have and are. They tell us that we need not look to our Father for why we are so terrible; we can only blame ourselves.
I will be addressing both of these in coming letters, free will and sin. But on this day Father, I cannot praise you. The magnitude of all that we are not weighs too heavily upon me. Because it matters not what excuses our elders or your holy Book give. In the end you are the Father, and we the children. If you are really so perfect, surely you would have been able to do better than this; surely we would have been able to rise higher than the base acts our lowly natures compel us towards. We are nothing like the perfect image you are supposed to be, and thinking on this, dear Father, I find it most suspect. There is, after all, a saying amongst your children about apples and their trees.
With sadness and disappointment,
Your Prodigal Son
P.S. As with the letter on your guide, this would probably reach you after the Day of Fathers has passed. Forgive me, Father; I had a slight preoccupation.