Call me a dinosaur, but I miss the days when men walked the planet.
I can’t pinpoint when the “wimpification” of the American male took hold. I only see its ghastly effect upon me, my country, and my Church. I didn’t realize it when I gave away my membership card in the nonexclusive club of being a man. Looking back, I can see all the times where I cried as a victim, when I should’ve stood tall as a man.
First of all, let me acknowledge that the women in my life will not understand this writing. I love you, more importantly, I celebrate you in the gifts of womanhood that God has bestowed upon its creation – you. Let’s face it: we don’t celebrate the gifts of womanhood anymore either. Too many are calling women to be more like men. The gift of womanhood is being lost as well. However, speaking as a man, confirmed by chromosomes, testosterone levels and not “self-identification,” I can only truly speak to the male side of this argument.
Men generally understand the gift I was given each time when I was told directly – “be a man.” Sadly, we forget and sometimes us men simply need a slap to recalibrate us. Verbally or non-verbally, the testosterone needs to get flowing again. Years ago, when whining about a job decision, my friend Kevin told me “you’re just wimping out.” Amen. I was. At that moment, Kevin gave me a much needed adjustment in my manhood. I don’t know where Kevin is anymore, but his “gift” has long been cherished by me. During another issue in my career, my brother told me to “get your swagger back.” In my self-victimization, I had lost it. I wasn’t slaying dragons and chasing windmills anymore. Instead, I was running from them. My brother gave me a gift in the wake-up call I needed to refocus. I doubt the women in my life appreciate the tough love in this, but I am certain they were happy when my spine regenerated.
Of course, one doesn’t have to be a man to give the gift of manhood back to someone. My wife, who somehow is still around after the three decades of torture living with me can be, pointedly asked me when I was worried about a job situation, “so what are you going to do about it?” It was the “kick in the A” that I didn’t know I needed. Realizing this, I stopped feeling sorry for myself and made a plan.
Yes, somedays a hug is needed. However, men have been getting slapped back into cognition since the days of Moe, Larry and Curly. Today, we seem to be all in on the hugs. The American male became extinct when we forgot the slaps.
I can see it now, Greg is “advocating child abuse.” Oh’ shut up! Men don’t harm children. Men don’t disrespect women. Perhaps if we spent more time as parents reminding boys of this, the world would be a better place. Metaphorical “slaps” only hurt those who choose to be victims in life.
Manhood is no longer allowed in the workplace. I let it go there myself as well. I let the bullies win to keep my paycheck. A man stands up for what is right wherever he is, regardless of the ramifications of the “PC police.” Jesus showed us that on Good Friday. In the name of supporting my family I let myself be pushed to the point where I lost confidence in my ability to do a job I excel at. I should have walked away. Instead, I cowered. St. Ignatius reminded me that I was bowing to the wrong King. Realizing this, I chose a new path. After rediscovering that my relationship with Jesus meant more to me than a promotion, I even went as far as to tell a manager, who happens to be Catholic, that I am not “playing the game anymore.” I will do a good job, but my focus is returning home again. His response? “Come on, don’t give me that.” I remembered to pray for him on the way home that night. Yet, I still co-exist with a world that challenges us to push for that next title, pay raise, or acclaim. I continue to battle Ignatius in my head while trying to follow his lead in my heart.
Perhaps the last American male died with the World War II generation (and notable exceptions for Korea and Vietnam). Those guys would have slapped Putin and not simply taxed his daughters as the news proudly reports. That generation didn’t want to storm the beaches of Normandy, but they knew they had to do what was needed at the time. They rose up as men. Today, we are currently witnessing in our midst the genocide of a people. It doesn’t matter whether they are good people, bad people, villains, or admirable. Men don’t stand idly by while women are raped and children are killed – wherever it occurs.
We pay billions of dollars for a United Nations organization that gives speeches when they should be in Ukraine standing in front of the tanks. We pray for peace and yet, we fail to insist upon it. Pray and “let God take care of it” is how we justify our indifference. Yet, we also know that this is not how it works: God will assist us in being His hands. We have heavy lifting to do and we have abandoned our call as Christians to stand up to the evil in our midst.
Sadly, perhaps the last “tough” role model was Mother Teresa. St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta dedicated her life to the poorest of poor. Each day she walked where we fear to go. She stood up and told Congress to stop funding abortion. She told the room at a White House gathering to forget the dessert and “give the money to the poor.” She bravely defended and lived her faith. Some days that challenged her, but she kept pressing on. We sit back idly and let a President who publicly proclaims his “Catholicism” to continually fund and advocate the murder of innocent children. We let “Catholic” politicians send men in dresses to share bathrooms with our daughters. We let others tell our sons that they should wrestle girls in high school sports. Teresa walked the talk. We talk and walk away.
Pope Francis led the charge in his unprecedented visit to the Russian embassy. I expect he will make it to Ukraine too. He was among the first to say to put on a mask if it can help others. He reminded us to respect fighting for the Common Good in getting the COVID vaccine. Francis led with love.
As men we are called to honor the Imago Dei in everyone. We’ve forgotten that we can love others, help others and still use our brains. Wear a dress dude, I don’t care what you do at home, but leave the children alone. Children have enough challenges growing up in this world without tackling your issues too. Disney has forgotten that seeing the world as children do is a gift, not a mandate to be manipulated. Men must stand up for this. The “Magic” in the Kingdom is being taken away.
A person hoping to rile me once said, “if God doesn’t make mistakes, how can there be fill in the blank.” I agree, God doesn’t make mistakes. I do. Nature can, and our fall has led to a great deal of hurt. People are never “mistakes.” We are all broken in some regard. Regardless, God loves us all more than we can fathom. Christians don’t stand idly by while this brokenness is being exalted. Men don’t stand idly by while this love being denied.
Men stand up.
Men remember God’s love and our brokenness.
Men fight for God’s love and healing our brokenness.
Like Jesus, men die for God’s love and our brokenness.