A 1966 Time Magazine cover asked its readers in large, bold type, “Is God dead?” The question was a reflection by others who had written on the subject in relation to what they were seeing in popular culture of that day.

This week's issue of Time echoes another potential blasphemy by essentially asking if fathers really deserve a special day, pointing out that in 10 to 40 percent of households worldwide, children are growing up without the advantage of a father being present.

While 10 to 40 percent do not yet make a majority, we might put it this way:

If “fatherhood” as an institution were personified as a male patient in a hospital that had lost that percentage of his vital signs, while not dead, he is certainly on a downhill slide toward mortality.

Fatherhood on the ropes has dire consequences for our society. Children need a strong father figure.

Police know gang members often result from a situation in which a male child, for whatever reason, becomes the dominant figure in the household. It may be because the mother has left and the father is elderly or ill, which is to say not up to the arduous task of laying down the law to his son.

Usually, though, it is because the father has long since vacated the premises and the working mother is not strong enough to deal with her work duties along with the rigors of exercising control over a teenager who is physically stronger at an emotionally precarious time of his psychological development.

It is interesting to note that, as a species, this situation is not unique to us. A recent case in which forestry officials began finding dead rhinos in an African game preserve had them scratching their heads. It wasn't poachers, they reasoned, because the rhinos' horns were still intact.

The culprits turned out to be “teenage” elephants whose fathers had been eliminated due to forestry officials' attempts at population control. The immature elephants had formed “gangs” that roamed the jungle wreaking havoc and having sex before their biological clocks would ordinarily dictate. Game managers quickly imported bull elephants who put an immediate halt to their shenanigans, restoring order to an otherwise chaotic situation.

Human children are no different. In a way, they require a “bull” of a father to help rein them in.

All of this is the bad news. The good news is that 60-90 percent of households worldwide still do contain fathers, and to these men we tip our hat.

To those who stay the course we say happy Fathers Day. You most definitely deserve it.

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