The recent attention to Father’s Day and the questioning by news reporters of Georgia’s Republican Senate Nominee Herschel Walker’s fatherhood history made me recall an incident I experienced with my father when I was about 10 years old.

My mother and father separated when I was so young that I could not remember my father being in our household. He moved to another state and visited us very rarely. During one of his visits, he invited me to ride with him to see some of our relatives.

When he drove me back to my mom’s house, he asked me to give him a hug goodbye. I said, “No.” He told me that he would not give me any money if I did not hug him. I responded with, “I don’t care.”

“You mustn’t say you don’t care,” he said in a somewhat angry voice.

“But I don’t,” I replied, then opened the car door, got out and went into my house.

Once inside, I looked out a window and saw that my father was headed for the house, I went upstairs.

I have no idea whether he gave my mom some money or not, but I heard him telling my mom about me saying, “Don’t care” and his disapproval. He only stayed a few minutes.

When I knew he had gone, I went downstairs.

My mom said nothing to me about my saying “Don’t care,” but I still believe that the little smile on her face was because she was pleased that I had not behaved as my father demanded.

Years have taught me that there are categories for which “don’t care” is appropriate and desirable, such as race, color, sex (pregnancy, sexual orientation and gender identification), national origin, disability, age or genetic information and religion.*

In other words, people shouldn’t care about a person’s race, color, sex etc.

And there are categories for which one must care and address such as poverty, hunger, ageism, sexism, cruelty to others and climate change.

* Equal Employment Opportunity Commission categories under which discrimination charges can be filed.

Peggy Tarr

Peggy Tarr has been a columnist for the Evanston RoundTable since its founding in 1998. Born in Bruce Springsteen's hometown of Freehold, New Jersey, she graduated from Rutgers University with a degree...

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