“Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.” -Dr. Seuss
The holiday season always makes me particularly nostalgic for family, a sense of community and home. When I miss my sister, I wear more pink and polish my nails. When I miss my father, I listen to Sam Cooke and re-watch Fringe.
Peter and Walter Bishop are two of my favorite characters. Beyond Walter’s struggle with mental illness is the acute awareness that his son no longer loves or respects him. Peter refuses to acknowledge his father’s genius; he sees only obsessive madness. He remains headstrong and arrogant, albeit dutiful.
My father has always been a mystery to me. In some ways he’s been the archetype of every American father: conservative and traditional. In other ways he’s been a silent revolutionary: militant, progressive and resolute.
Sci-fi was always his favorite. We could sit for hours and watch black and white versions of The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits. He thought I was the strangest little girl.
The little that I understand of him, because he’s always been a man of few words, is his commitment to family, his sense of responsibility for community, and his appreciation for life-long learning. My professional career and personal ideology have been inspired by his vision and by my desire to be of service in the same way that he has.
Over and over again I’ve been Peter to my father’s Walter. I used to think our sci-fi marathons were just ways to kill time. Now I understand the questions.
-What does it mean to be human?
-How should we respond to things that we fear?
-In a world stratified by difference, how can we acknowledge each other’s humanity?
-Whose responsibility is it to provide comfort and protection for those who are persecuted?
-If we, ourselves, are persecuted– how do we maintain our humanity?