In the frantic search for answers following a year that has seen multiple mass shootings and a movement to halt sexual harassment and abuse, there has been a stunning omission to the set of proposed solutions: remembering and validating the positive roles of fathers, brothers, men and boys in America.
The world seems determined to dumb down and even dismiss the role of good men and faithful fathers. The media often portrays men as knuckleheaded, bumbling idiots who have to constantly be saved from themselves.
Real men, despite Hollywood’s assertions to the contrary, are kind, upstanding and hardworking. They are equal partners with their spouses and faithful to their families and close relationships. Harnessing the power of good men to produce better boys and more positive young men requires them to pursue these attributes. It also requires society to value the impact men can have.
But society is reeling from the retreat of men from the home, neighborhood and society. It is a sad truth that some men have given up or given in to the declining morals of the day.
The statistics relating to this retreat are staggering. From poverty, school dropout and violent criminal activity rates to drug, alcohol and mental health problems — the absence of good men to model positive behavior leads to an avalanche of troubling trends in America’s homes and communities.
There is, however, a veritable army of fathers, brothers, uncles and grandfathers who regularly — without fanfare and far from the spotlight — choose to make a difference. High-impact fathering happens in the low-lying events of day-to-day life. A ride to school, a trip to the store, a walk around the neighborhood, a simple email, a few minutes spent reading a book, a handwritten note and an encouraging word, can — for a child or an adult — become powerful moments.
Government does have a role to play. For men who have fallen into addiction or chosen a life of crime, there needs to be a rehabilitation path that leads back to the communities and families that desperately need them. The current criminal justice system has produced a revolving door in prisons with little chance for redemption and few opportunities to return as a contributing member to society.
Government must also work to ensure that federal and state assistance programs are designed to make poverty temporary instead of tolerable. Expecting work, teaching vocational skills and developing self-reliance are critical to a highly functioning man who can provide for himself and make a difference for others.12 comments on this story
Family, extended family and communities, more so than any government program, are vital to building better boys and men. Fathers play a crucial role in all of this. In his book, “Fatherless America,” author David Blankenhorn writes, “In short, the key for men is to be fathers. The key for children is to have fathers. The key for society is to create fathers.” While death, divorce and disengaged men and fathers are a reality in America, it doesn’t mean society should passively accept it as the new and perpetual normal.
Edmund Burke is attributed with the observation, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” The country must strive to re-establish the vital role of men and fathers. For society to thrive, there must be a positive and dynamic combination of extraordinary women and the best of men.