August 3, 2013

Stupid Boy Killing and Some Hope

RANT WARNING: OK, I’m sad and pissed off. I’m writing today in a burst of emotion and don’t feel like I want to make sense. I mean the world doesn’t make sense to me right now. So I’m just putting it all out here.

In today’s paper there is a story about a lost seventeen year-old boy who helped mastermind the robbery and unintended killing of his own grandmother, by himself and his boy pack.

Grandma was great. She was a positive force in her neighborhood that helped with mowing, looked after others' houses, and shared her peach crisp recipe. She volunteered at her church and helped with Vacation Bible School. She had played a role in raising her grandson and was a big support to the family after his mom divorced his dad. Grandma was even trying to get her grandson help for his drug use. As the article reported, her grandson and his siblings were “the love of her life.”

The grandson and his teen boy pack of three plotted a robbery, stalked her house, and then broke in. The oldest boy in the pack then cut grandma with a knife and forced her to write him a check for $1500. He then stabbed and strangled her while the grandson played lookout. It’s all stupid, stupid, stupid, horribly tragic, and profoundly sad.

So yes, I’m upset this whole sad drama has come to pass. I’m also sad about the other articles in the same paper describing other stupid young guy’s actions. Shootings as part of the too common, “Lord of the Flies” style gang theater, and reckless driving involving a crash and a death.

We know the pre-frontal cortex in teen male brains is not fully wired. The dudes can’t always think through the long-term consequences of their actions. That’s why dumb but exciting activities somehow make sense to them. In truth, the young guys are handicapped individuals until sometime in their mid-twenties. They deserve our love and some compassion, but they also require our constant attention and guidance. The thing that makes me really angry in the article about the grandson is that again, I got to read the too common adult disclaimer, “I didn’t see it coming at all.” Really, give me a break!

"I didn’t see it coming at all."
Really, give me a break!

Seemingly every day in the press, online, and in the “news,” we are presented with more evidence that too many angry, lost, under-managed young guys, in packs or alone, with access to drugs, who can drive cars or get weapons, are going to find a way to create havoc in their lives, and inflict unbearable pain on their families and in the lives of those in their communities. What the adult is really saying in that brief disclaimer is some version of: “It’s not my fault, I didn’t want to get involved, it’s not my business, someone should have helped that kid, kids these days, I’ve got my own problems,” and, “it’s not my responsibility.” I’m tired of hearing those responses. Those phrases are most often spoken by people whose lives haven’t YET, been messed up by an out of control young male.

As a Man-Making Blog reader, you know my response; it’s, “Do something! Please!” I do what I do with young guys for a lot of reasons, but on top is the fact that I do feel some responsibility and I don’t like these uncomfortable feelings that are the cost of inaction. When I read these sad stories, at least I can say, “I accept some responsibility, I’m glad I’m involved, it IS my business, and I can and do make a difference in the lives of some young men.” What if you and all the other Man-Making Blog readers, and all your men friends felt the same and did something for a kid somewhere? What would that world look like?

In January of this year, I did a Man-Making Blog post about the Continuum of Involvement, from the Man-Making book and my Man-Making trainings. The basic idea is that there is a continuum of action options for those of you who may be willing to do something. It all starts with the smallest of gestures, low personal risk and little time required. Check out that post, and then see if there isn't something you’re willing to do. Or contact me and let’s see what might be possible for you.

I believe they are all “our boys,” I know they need good men (like you) in their lives, and I can promise there is something you can do today to make a difference, maybe THE difference. I'm dedicating my next steps to this kid's grandma.

CONTACT: Send Earl a message. I'm interested in your thoughts on man-making. Also, I'm available to work with you to bring the right form of man-making to your community or organziation.

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  1. Dave Boulduc4:19 PM

    Thanks for continuing to share these stories and encouraging men to step up in boys lives. We can each do our part. I had the pleasure and privilege of spending a good part of today with one of our Boys to Men boys at our local pool. He's struggling with failing summer school and staying back. Doesn't help that his biological dad is getting married next week and his Mom has a new boyfriend. Lots to take in for a 12 year old.

    We didn't talk much but because of our history, he did share some of his feelings. His mom and grandmother (who he lived with for 1 1/2 years when his mom was unable to take care of him) tell us that he has been able to share his feelings (including crying)with them also.

    Just showing up for a kid makes a huge difference.

    I hope stories like this motivate other men to step up. I get so much out of working with these boys.

    1. So proud of you Dave. Keep up the great work. I also know that "just showing up" is easy, rewarding, and good for all the males involved.

  2. Love you, Earl. I'm forwarding this on my Facebook page. Plenty of parents need to hear this on behalf of their young men. We ALL need to contribute, something, anything.


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