American Exceptionalism: Random Male Violence, Part II

Posted by on Feb 24, 2018 in Anger, Character, Community, Courage, Culture, Fear, Hope, Noble Journey, Venus and Vegas | 9 comments

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.

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American Exceptionalism: Random Male Violence, Part I

Posted by on Feb 24, 2018 in Anger, Character, Community, Courage, Culture, Hope, Redemption, Venus and Vegas | 3 comments

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.

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Brilliant Jerks

Posted by on Jul 7, 2017 in Character, Culture, Legacy, Significance | 30 comments

American culture does a good job of creating, idolizing, and then rewarding, young men who are convinced of the following life principles:

  1. Life is a party. Rock on.
  2. You’re the master of your domain. You get to decide how life goes. Others are at your service.
  3. You’re special. The rules that govern others don’t apply to you. You get a pass.
  4. You’re invincible. You’re forever young. You’ll avoid the natural consequences of injury, illness and aging.
  5. 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.

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Which Will It Be…Rights Or Rites?

Posted by on May 18, 2017 in Character, Community, Fathers, Legacy, Transformation | 2 comments

Rite of Passage. Western culture largely views these as age-based rights young adults automatically deserve once they hit a certain date. Depending on local laws 18 or 21-year olds are allowed to consume tobacco, alcohol, marijuana and pornography; they can now purchase weapons and ammunition. In most cases, this “right” is granted regardless of whether youths have benefited from any guidance in the inherent dangers of these practices nor any training in discernment in their use.

High school sports team and college fraternity hazing rituals involving sexual abuse, or deadly alcohol over-consumption, as we saw this week at Penn State and in 2013 at my own alma mater, Northern Illinois University, confirm the consequences of the absence of effective guidance in rites of passage.

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Today’s News Confirms: Men Matter, They Just Don’t Think So

Posted by on Jan 7, 2017 in Character, Culture, Legacy, Significance, Transformation | 12 comments

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:

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A Village of Fathers

Posted by on Dec 8, 2016 in Character, Community, Culture, Fathers, Heroes, Leadership, Transformation | 0 comments

If you’ve read many of my posts in the past there’s a good chance you’ve seen me quote an African proverb I learned from a Kenyan pastor: “The boys in the village must be initiated into manhood, or they will burn down the village…just to feel the heat.” When I heard this statement it caused many observations I’ve had about our society to fall into place. It explains why fatherless inner-city gang members turn to violence. It explains why self-absorbed frat boys, with no healthy mentors, assert their will on women. It explains the profound urgency of father-son programs like Peregrine’s Passage to Manhood. Watch this remarkable clip illustrating some mentors who have their eyes on the next generation of African American young men. Man, am I glad for men like this! May their tribe...

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