December 21, 2012

Newtown CT, the President, Good News, and the Men's Community Resource Cooperative

I haven’t posted in a while. I've been struggling with the idea I actually live in a world where twenty children and six adults can be murdered in an elementary school. For a guy that likes to write, I have found myself mostly wordless. I'm still not back, but here are some random thoughts:

I find it terribly odd to watch the relentless quest by the authorities to figure out WHY the shooter (I’m not naming them any more), did what he did. To me, it’s always a perfect storm of the same elements: a very angry or over-the-edge-crazy young white guy, a struggling-to-do-her-best single mom, an unresponsive or impenetrable "mental health" system, some form of fatherlessness, and easy access to way too much killing power. There are variations on the mix, but for me, the “why” is always buried somewhere in that story.

So I've decided not to jump into the fray of being angry and demanding some piece of the puzzle be fixed. In the President's touching speech to the Newtown community, he said, " . . . keeping our children safe and teaching them well is something we can only do together, with the help of friends and neighbors, the help of a community and a nation." I'm a communitarian at heart, and the best action I can take is to continue to call men into man-making service to young males.

I'm a communitarian at heart

So in this blog you will continue to learn about man-making related programs for young guys in churches, schools, and communities, where heroic men (and women) are changing and saving young male lives. I will continue to hope that someday those stories will be seen in the mainstream media. If not because the people working in those trenches are total community heroes, then at least as a counter-point to our 24 hour news cycle preoccupation with the dark side of all these tragic events.

In the meantime, I will dream big dreams of a better world. Like the dream I had where every adult man reached out to one (lost) young male in his family, spiritual group, neighborhood, or community. That action alone would sweep countless lost young men into the caring safety net of masculine support and guidance. Of course, in my dreams, I don’t have to worry about the creepy guys. I simply see thousands of lost, isolated, angry, and fatherless boys experiencing positive connections to very good men.

Men’s Community 
Resource Cooperative
I had another dream I'm daring to share here. I dreamed if a man wanted to own a gun or get a license to hunt, in addition to all the needed background checks, safety training, and fees, he’d have to have thirty accumulated days community service through a local Men’s Community Resource Cooperative. Over time, the Cooperative would become a growing repository of male time and energy available for community building.

Men from the Cooperative could be called upon to do things like repair the homes of the elderly, help clean up after disasters, protect problem neighborhoods from violence, help young or even older guys getting out of jail to get established, visit young guys in group homes or juvenile detention facilities, provide support for single mothers, volunteer in schools, and, of course, mentor young males in a thousand different ways. In this way, a prospective gun owner would be able to demonstrate he was a responsible member of his community and worthy of the right to make life and death decisions.

Hey, I can dream!



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3 comments:

  1. Bill M.12:45 PM

    I initially misread one of the lines of your blog and it gave me an idea. What if a guy who wanted to buy a gun had to have letters of support and commitment from men in their community, men whose duty it is to protect the welfare of the community and see it grow stronger in spirit not firepower.

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  2. Mary L.1:15 PM

    There was a very good article in the 12-18-12 issue of Science Times (The New York Times) this week entitle “In Gun Debate, a Misguided Focus on Mental Illness.” (URL is http://goo.gl/O2nOe)

    There is no doubt that mental illness is a problem, but, according to this article, “Only about 4% of violence in the United States can be attributed to people with mental illness.”

    I personally feel that the right-wing element of the gun lobby would prefer we focus on mental illness rather than gun mania in general. I don’t think we want to let them use mental health as a smoke screen. It definitely needs to be addressed, but addressing it alone and as the primary issue doesn't resolve the gun violence problem.

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  3. Well said, Earl.

    What I and I think countless other Australians are trying to come to grips with is the bold assertion by your National Riflemen’s Association that the way to protect children in schools is to put an armed guard in every school!

    In my country, strong measures were taken to take guns out of the general community, following our last massacre in our southernmost State of Tasmania, where a gunman ran amok at the Port Arthur Historical Penal Settlement maybe 15 years ago. Since then, the only community sector which has seen an increase in shooting deaths since that time is our police forces – who used not to be armed but now are. Given the young age of many police personnel, it is not surprising that they lack the maturity and innate experience to handle some of the situations without drawing their weapons.

    The requirements in Australia to get a gun licence are stringent, and no one here has suggested we bring back ease of gun ownership. However, I really love your idea of applicants being required to undertake community service as part of the demonstration that they are fit to secure a licence and own a gun.

    Yes, there are still guns and shooting murders and accidents in Australia. Farmers may need guns to deal with sick animals or ward off marauding animals, and it is therefore no coincidence that the rate of shooting deaths in our rural areas is higher than in the cities and towns. Corruption in our customs and border protection services has also been shown to enable illegal firearms to be imported and used by our criminal element mainly. But the situation is still heaps better than it used to be.

    As a movie fan of old Westerns, I think I can understand historically how USA has a love affair with weapons. Yet looking back now at how these decisions were made, I can only see how dumb many of the men and so-called heroes were in not seeing or finding other ways to solve problems. ‘White’ Australia started off as a penal colony where guns and force were very much the order of the day. It’s interesting to speculate as to why we have taken a different line historically such that guns are not an acceptable part of everyday life here. A Michael Moore documentary made a few years ago examined this issue of gun ownership in relation to on of the earliest school massacres. (‘Bowling for Columbine’ was the title, I think.) I still remember how at one stage he crossed the great lakes to see what role guns had in Canada and how their communities fared with respect to security and safety, and the contrast with USA was stark.

    Our boys are heavily influenced by the male role models in their lives, role models of all ages. You and I and our colleagues can only keep doing our best to be Good Men in their lives. Many of the programs you have blogged on show that we are not alone.

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