I sit in my chair, at this moment, struggling with the idea of how to even start this topic. Men are in crisis in America today. I say America not because I am trying to bash on my own beloved homeland, but because it is the only country I can speak definitively about with any real clarity. I am the last person to puff my chest out and say "I am a man's man. While certainly able to stand up for myself and my family, my country and my faith, you won't find me buying a gun every 5 minutes, roaring at a football game, or chugging beers. I am trying to become more handy, but lets just say I should have been paying more attention to my dad when we were doing projects instead of having my head in the clouds thinking about dragons and treasure.
So let me examine what it is to be a man these days and where I think we are failing. I think the BIGGEST crisis area is fathers. I was raised with the ideal in mind, that if you produced a child in this world, they always came first from that point on. I think that is something men have really lost sight of in the last 20 years. We went from the father who works 60+ hours a week to put food on the table but still came home to bounce his child on his knee, show his son or daughter how to do different tasks, to fathers whom hide from child support, spend all their money on their own pursuits leaving nothing for their family, or worse yet bail and never even try to take part. When I would hear stories of guys like this as a kid, they were few and far between, and most of the community in general treated any man who acted this way as the lowest type of human being. Now as an adult, I have seen so many examples of this, in my own life and immediate social circle that it truly sickens me. Without getting to personal, I have seen that even the most loved child in the world is still impacted with at least the curiousity as to why a father would do this.
I think the first link to this shrugging of responsibility comes from societal and generational change. Simply put we know there is a crisis of entitlement in the United States now. The Golden Agers grew up through the depression years having to deal with having nothing to very little, but being grateful for any little convenience they had. As such even when a lot of them started getting better pay by the 1950's, they were fearful and frugal because you never knew when the hammer was gonna fall. Their children, the young adults of the late 60's and 70's came into a world where they saw booming commerce and industry, and could not fathom why their parents were so frugal and penny pinching. To add to this, most of the men in the Golden Age era were Veterans of War that left intangible scars with which they returned back to the USA. There was no discussing or treatment for them it was just suck it up and move on. They came back half hollowed men, keeping their pain inside, or masking it in alcohol. So by the time we get to the 60's and 70's, the generation most of our parents grew up in, those young adults were done with this stoic, depressing way of life. They had grown up in a prosperous time that only the cloud of Vietnam could put a damper on.
Vietnam era Veterans returned from a war every bit as horrific as World War 2, but while being aware of how much better life was, they tried to make sense of the horrors they had seen versus the everyday life they were returning to. Still we did not have any kind of social understanding of PTSD and its effects, so these Veterans were turned loose in a fast paced world that did not seem to care about their pain. Divorces during this time skyrocketed as many of these men, unable to get answers from their own fathers on how to cope, who were themselves damaged, internalized their pain, because unlike their fathers they did not come back waving a flag of victory. Now drugs and alcoholism were even more rampant, and these men checked out. Now do not get me wrong, many of these men would find the strength by grace of god to find stability, though sadly, often enough not at the hands of the society that should have supported them. These men instead felt abandoned and as such began to stolidly "look out for #1".
It is easy to see with the backdrop of war, depression, yet booming economy, where signals began to get crossed. By the time we reach the mid 70's into early 80's we have the baby boomer generation fully coming into its own. They work good jobs, with good wages, good medical insurance that allows them to get treatment and care for their loved ones. Life is good and as such, our parents, wanting us to have more then they ever had begin to buy and make sure their kids want for nothing. No longer would their kids be refused that toy, or that game, because by God, my parents could never afford to do stuff for me "So I am gonna make sure my kids live better then I did" Corporate entities of course seized this opportunity by the throat and squeezed for all it was worth, mass producing, toys, games, comic books, baseball cards you name it. It became my generations expectation that if they want something they should have it. I think the only saving grace for us were the few parents whom took the Golden Ager's lessons of working for what you want, saving to buy something instead of charging it to heart. Sadly it just was not enough.
What this did to men in the United States is slowly break down the fiber that made us the shepherds to our families. No longer was the expectation that you turn 18 you find a job, now we got to party down and live it up in college till 21 or 22 before having to come to grips with being an adult. In fact statistically speaking, a good chunk of us did not even start lives coming close to resembling our parents history until most were in the late 20's to early 30's. We were raised to think of ourselves first and foremost, because after all, our parents did, shouldn't the whole world be the same way. Even now when I look around, I still have classmates and friends from other walks of life,with kids no less, amply suckling from the teet of their parents labors at 40 something years old. Do not get me wrong, sometimes you just need a hand up. Some families are very close and like to keep together, but as our parents reach retirement age and even begin to pass away, our inheritances become debt, fuddled financials and lost sense of security that frankly most of us should have outgrown decades ago.
To cite examples supporting my argument:
1) A father that would rather be homeless, work under the table, and do drugs then support his offspring
2) A father that lets his own daughter be violated by his girlfriend/fiancees teenage son and does nothing to stand up for her, for fear of losing his girlfriend.
3) A Man at 30 years old still living with his mom, whom struggles while he works temp jobs and seasonal work because "Why should I kill myself when I have a place to live for free".
4) Men that spend more on guns, hunting gear and video games then they do their own families well being.
5) Men that will not commit because they are so self centered as to not want to be forced into making a decision that will cause sacrifice.
6) Grown men spending more on action figures of their youth then their own children's toys.
I could go on and on citing examples but I really do not need to. If you have an ounce of common sense you can look around and see the 30 something cursing foully in public with children right there over something on his phone. We have moved to this right now mentality we are leading our kids by the nose into following and it is crushing us. No one has patience for anything anymore if it cannot be achieved on the spot and most importantly we are building crushing piles of garbage because most men have forgotten that at one point we WERE the handymen, the fixers the guys that said okay let me see if I can fix it before I throw it away. Hell, most guys do not even change their own oil anymore and other then the disposal of the old oil, it is frankly a pretty straight forward process.
One of my male acquaintances (totally not a friend I just have to deal with him) was commenting upon an old co worker and facebook friend's status update he saw over my shoulder. He made the comment that man he likes Star Trek that is pretty gay. So my first issue was with him saying something was "gay" Gay is not a descriptor for something bad. Secondly, the friend of mine he was discussing just so happens to be gay. He then proceeded to talk about how he and his Army buddies would beat the crap out of some trekkies especially gay trekkies. Astounded at his stupidity, I got irritated and said "You know, this "gay" friend of mine bought a HUD home, and has spent the last 6 years renovating and building that thing from top to bottom, making rooms where there were not any, running plumbing, and electrical for himself. He and his partner have taken in multiple "charity cases" as you would term it, that were just folks down on their luck that needed a hand up, and have helped them get back out in the world. In fact when they had a father and his son living with them, and they figured out the father was being physically abusive they had the balls to act to get this kid the help he needed and tried to get the father help as well. They drove the kid to meet his grandparents several states away so he could have a safe home where he was loved. They sat and helped him with his homework in the absence of his father. To boot this "gay trekkie" was physically beaten and abused and excommunicated from his own family for years and yet he still pulled himself up by his bootstraps and does not hesitate to help the very society that hates on him. Simply put asshole, this guy is more of a man then you will ever be. So go watch your football game where other men run around and do work while you sit on your fat ass and hurl commentary at the screen."
You need more proof that men are degenerating from men to man children look around at most of our crises. Since most Stock Brokers and Investment Bankers are men, can we not then easily draw the conclusion that these instances of embezzlement, Investment Bankers stock fraud and scandals all stem from this pervading sense of "I want it, I want it now and I deserve it because I am me" that is destroying us. I think we can. I am not innocent in this. I have bought way too many items I should not have in my desire to have it now. This is not on my parents. My parents would get me christmas and birthday gifts but other then that if I wanted something they made me save up and earn it from age 5 on. I went in the military, where instead of saving Haz Duty pay and being smart about it, I blew it on parties and items I do not even have anymore. I made those choices and they were bad ones. I ate things I should not have ate, and no one held a gun to my head and said eat this or else. I chose the actions that more then likely despite genetic predisposition led to me being an insulin dependent diabetic. When I got diagnosed with MS, in my head I used it as a excuse to soothe my woes with physical objects INSTEAD of finding joy in the fact I was a father to two healthy children and married to a gorgeous wife. I thank God every day my wife has the patience to stick with me. So while I have always strove to be a good father I have made more then my share of mistakes along the way.
But see that is just it folks. I think the most important lesson men need to learn to really be men is to be able to turn that camera around and face facts. Mom is not here to save you. Dad should not have to bail you out. This is on you, you clean your mess up, you get out of your parents basement, and you get something positive done. If you brought a child in this world, YOU GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER AND MAKE THAT KID YOUR PRIORITY. Your mom and dad should not be raising their grandchildren. They should be able to spoil the crap out of them and give them back to you, the way God intended. Show your sons how to love a woman by being true and faithful to your wife. Show your daughters exactly what kind of man she should be looking for by being the example you want for her. Most importantly show your sons and daughters how to treat a spouse by showing them she is your equal, your partner, your everything, so they will grow up looking for that kind of stability too. Most importantly...teach them patience and stop acting like a 4 year old whom lost their sucker when things do not go your way. YOU DO NOT NEED that stupid IPHONE 1000 right now. You do not need to swap things every time a new model comes out when the one you have more then covers your needs. Look around you, our kids are becoming more and more obese, have no manners and are very self centered and its ALL we as parents fault. It is not A) the school's fault B) the other parent's fault, C) The president's liberal/conservative Agenda's fault. It is YOURS. Monkey see monkey do.
In a few words men of the United States, Pull your pants up, put your phones/pads/game controllers down, stand up and quit expecting mom and dad or Uncle Sam to bail you out for your dumb decisions. Otherwise, frankly, everything is only gonna get worse, and it is our job as the shepherds of our family to protect our flock, not to sit in the middle of the flock and wait for someone else to do it.
Let's be the kind of Men we should be America.