We’re Failing Men
Recognize, Receive, Reject Every morning, right after having my devotions and right before working out, I take some time to scan Twitter and Facebook and mark the articles I plan to read throughout the day. I’m not of the opinion that one should only read the Bible, though I do believe it is complete in itself. I believe that just as God can speak to us through His nature, and just as He has used animals to speak to prophets, He can speak to us through other books, other articles, and other mediums. IF… …we can recognize His voice. Sometimes we spend so much time listening, reading, watching, and experiencing so many other voices, so many other opinions, so many other influences, in loud proclamations and soft whispers, that we become attracted to the wrong things and choose the wrong things. We wonder why we’re attracted to shallow things, and worse, evil things, but it’s really because we have not filled ourselves enough with what’s truly good and therefore no longer recognize what’s truly honorable, what’s truly lovely, what’s truly praiseworthy, what’s truly worthy of our minds and hearts. So even as you read books, watch videos and movies, take in the news, and hear reports (or gossip), filter everything by asking God, “What do You want to tell me? What do You want me to believe? What do You want me to hold on to? What do You want me to reject? What do You want me to do?” Simple questions. But we don’t always ask them, and, from experience, not always easy to follow. But they are necessary if we want depth in our lives. The alternative is a life that is easily impressed, which means easily marked, easily influenced, and easily fooled. I’ve been a fool many times. That’s why I go back to these questions. What do You want to tell me? What do You want me to believe? What do You want me to hold on to? What do You want me to reject? What do You want me to do?” Recognize what is truly worth embracing. Receive what is truly worth keeping. Reject what is shallow, what is simple-minded, and the things that erode your ability to recognize real value. Failing Men One of the posts I came across last week was a Huff Post Parenting article on Why Society is Failing Young Boys. I encourage you to read it especially if you are a parent, most especially if you are a father. The article describes the portrayal of boys in media today: “All the leading male characters are presented as expendable losers usually incapable of taking responsibility for themselves, often plotting intricate but seldom realized plans to get laid, and generally running the opposite direction of any kind of commitment. Not only do they avoid the future, sometimes they attempt to re-live past glory in order to avoid living in the present. It seems these guys don’t have much value to contribute to society beyond their ability to entertain the other male characters, and of course, the audience.” The article continues… “Without better male role models in real life, guys become confused about what constitutes acceptable male behavior. Boys aren’t spending enough time with fathers or mentors who can show them the way they’re supposed to behave as healthy men and it’s no longer an isolated problem. This is the first time in American history that boys are having less education than their fathers. Many young men see their future as bleak and about 70% of them don’t feel they’ll be as capable as their peers in other first world countries.” I think this is sad. It’s sad that the confusion has led to impotence. Should I be strong or gentle? Should I be tough or kind? Should I obey or challenge? As if these are mutually exclusive. They’re not. People can be strong and gentle. We can be tough and kind. We can obey and challenge. In fact, not only can we be this way, we should. But there are conflicting messages between the values we teach them, the example we show them, and the media we allow them to consume. Many boys don’t think this way because no one has ever modeled this life to them. A passionate life is possible without having to take advantage of women and beat people up. That’s not passion. That’s Conan, and he was a… barbarian. A respectable life doesn’t mean showing-off and being appreciated. An honorable life has more to do with the work done inside us than outside. It has more to do with our ability to make a stand, not give in. It has more to do with our ability to commit, not chase freedom. It has more to do with our ability to sacrifice, not the amounts we consume. In reality, a person who doesn’t make a stand, cannot or does not commit, and cannot control his consumption, whether food, material, or relationship, is a dishonorable person. Sounds like a lot of our political, sports, and media heroes to me. Sounds like me at times. The article ends by saying: “It’s time for men to step up and take responsibility for our boys. It’s time for moms not to be content that their son is “safe” up his room, doing whatever, but to engage him more fully in conversations, to encourage him to track his activities for a week, to have friends over, and be a more social animal. The current generation of boys and men need more real male role models, courageous, compassionate and heroic ones, and less modeled after the losers in Knocked Up, and with fewer Hall Passes.” I once mentioned in another post about how there is no word for “unresponsible” but only “irresponsible” because what that means is that when a need arises in front of us, no one can say “That’s not my job” or “I wasn’t ready” or “I’m not capable.” When a need arises and we don’t respond to it, when we give in to our excuses, what we really did was turn our backs on that person in need. We reject him. We are in small and big ways guilty of rejecting our boys. We have our reasons and our excuses but they remain rejected as a whole. As the article says, “It’s time for men (and women) to step up and take responsibility for our boys.” Let me highlight the description of a male role model in the last line: The current generation of boys and men need more real male role models, and describes them as courageous, not rebellious, compassionate, not selfish, and heroic, not spoiled. We need new heroes, not stars, not celebrities, not attention-starved, I-need-to-prove-my-machoness / coolness, but people who whose orientation isn’t “Hey look at me, I’m great!” but outward looking. This is not to say celebrities cannot be heroes, they most certainly can, but it is character, courage, and sacrifice that makes a person worth emulating, not popularity.