The STEM school shooting in Highlands Ranch, CO is disturbing to all of us. We may differ in our convictions of what the main solutions to this scourge in our nation are, but I think we agree on at least three things: 1. These kinds of repeated trauma leave an enormous heart and soul wound […]
Perhaps you’ve seen the recent Gillette commercial about men being the best they can be. The phrase “the best a man can get” took me back to hazy “wonder years” when I wondered when I might need to shave anything at all.
As I watched the clip, it evoked similar beneath-the-surface feelings: recognition, conviction, inspiration and commitment. So I was surprised to hear and read that not everyone had the same positive impression of the clip as I did. In fact, I saw through one source that reactions against the commercial were 4:1 versus those that saw it as positive.
The daily drama related to the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court appointment process is thankfully over. But anger on both political sides lingers. Some are furious at his appointment; others at his interview ordeal.
I confess I share my thoughts here as if I’m standing on some very thin ice…but I’m skating ahead. Whichever side we took, or switched to, throughout the process, I wonder if we can agree on these observations:
In my previous post, Random Male Violence, Part I I began to unravel the mystery of why the random violence we regularly encounter happens in the U.S. on a level unlike any other country. Our soul searching requires that we recognize that we are developing wounded males. But all countries have wounded males.
There’s another inescapable reason random mass slaughter happens within American borders so much more than anywhere else— the ease with which anyone, regardless of capabilities, mental health or training can get their hands on assault rifles—weapons of mass destruction. The solution to this issue has proven exceptionally difficult to find, but I don’t think there is any question that this is a central part of the problem.
Once again we wrestle with piercing feelings of grief, bewilderment and anger. Yet again a young American male has unleashed his wrath against a vulnerable group of students. Our hearts ache, our heads shake and our minds reel. How can this keep happening? What can we do to make sure this never happens again?
We’re familiar with the spectrum of suggested causes as well as solutions—it’s a mental health issue, it’s a gun access issue, it’s a cultural issue. It’s all of those to some degree, but in my option it’s a horrific case of American Exceptionalism.
I love my country, but I really dislike the way that term is typically used. It implies that American culture is first and best, as if we’re all in a global competition for a mythical cultural gold medal. Having traveled to more than 60 countries over the years I’ve experienced qualities in every one of them that are admirable as well as unfortunate. Mine included.
We see the news updates on our phones and can hardly believe what we are seeing. We turn on the TV and shake our heads, wordlessly, stunned at the carnage we once again witness in our broken world.
A morally lost 64 year-old man has killed more 50 and wounded more than 500 attenders of an outdoor concert in Las Vegas. He’d probably never met any of them. The audio of machine gun fire, along with the video of thousands running, crouching, weeping, is almost more than our hearts and minds can handle…
American culture does a good job of creating, idolizing, and then rewarding, young men who are convinced of the following life principles:
- Life is a party. Rock on.
- You’re the master of your domain. You get to decide how life goes. Others are at your service.
- You’re special. The rules that govern others don’t apply to you. You get a pass.
- You’re invincible. You’re forever young. You’ll avoid the natural consequences of injury, illness and aging.
- It’s all about you. You’re the center of the universe. Grab it.
In 2008 Michael Kimmel wrote an extremely informative book entitled Guyland in which he defined an American sub-culture, males 16-26. These are young men who “shirk the responsibilities of adulthood and remain fixated on the trappings of boyhood, while the boys they still are struggle heroically to prove that they are real men despite all evidence to the contrary.” p. 4.
Kimmel was prophetic, but he may have under-estimated the age range of Guyland. It seems too often to apply to older men who ought to know better.
Here’s a simple yet profound reminder to keep our perspective straight. It’s taken from a devotional by Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, who claims Jesus as Messiah.
“If you travel to different nations, you have to convert the currency of the place you’re leaving into the currency of your destination. Now what if you were going to a place from which you would never return? What would you do? Convert everything you had into the currency of your destination because anything not converted would be lost – right?
Author Richard Rohr makes an intriguing observation about the uniqueness of biblical authors versus most authors:
“The vast majority of people throughout history has been poor, disabled, or oppressed in some way (i.e., “on the bottom”) and would have experienced history in terms of a need for change. The people who wrote the books and controlled the social institutions, however, have almost always been the comfortable people on the top. Much of history has been recorded from the side of the winners, except for the unique revelation of the Bible, which is an alternative history from the bottom: from the side of the enslaved, the dominated, the oppressed, and the poor, culminating in the scapegoat figure of Jesus himself.
In one breakfast of scanning the newspaper this week I came across these stories:
1. The Washington Post’s Kathleen Parker wrote a moving editorial regarding Charleston church murderer Dylann Roof. He’s the self-professed white supremacist who slaughtered 9 African Americans while attending a Bible study at their church. (Just typing those words makes me both sick and angry.)
Roof may want the public to believe his insistence that he wanted to start a race war, or that he has justified grievances against blacks he supposes are the cause of his life of misery and social rejection.
Parker eloquently lifts the veil to the real truth of what drove him to this awful act: