Men are on the hot seat these days.
Read the daily headlines and Tweets.
Once again, we are reminded that some men are predators who take sexual advantage of women, abetted in part by the social media.
And we ask ourselves the question, what do real men do?
For the answer, my first choice is to refer you to the selected works of Dr. Robert Lewis, a co-founder of Little Rock’s Fellowship Bible Church with Bill Parkinson and Bill Wellons in the late 1970’s, founder of the international Men’s Fraternity program a decade or so later and author of at least six books .
When we met almost 40 years ago, I was going to AA meetings but struggling, and he and the late Dr. Charles Barg got me going on the right path.
The reason I bring this up is that Wall Street Journal Columnist Peggy Noonan suggested last week that among other things older men should get more involved in straightening out the youngsters.
“I used to think America needed a parent to help it behave,” Noonan declares. “Now I think it needs a grandparent.
“Our culture has been so confused for so long on so many essentials and has gotten so crosswise on the issue of men and women, that we need more than ever the wisdom of the aged.”
She’s not talking about those accused of rape and sexual assault which are crimes but rather those guilty of piggishness, grabbiness, manipulation and power games.
I’m not only a grandparent but also a great-grandparent so here are a few random thoughts.
Let’s begin with Hollywood, a hot bed of liberal thinking and strangely tolerant when it comes to abusing women.
I wonder what the late actor, Jimmy Stewart, would say.
In the movie, “Philadelphia Story” released in 1940, a year before World War II began, actress Katherine Hepburn, makes a pass at him, and Stewart’s character notes he could of have taken advantage of the moment, but she’d been drinking and “there are rules about that.”
Even more important, Stewart was also a gentleman and patriot off screen.
Stewart served in the Air Force during most of World War II and received the Distinguished Flying Cross for actions in combat and also the French Croix de Guerre. He also was awarded the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters.
Stewart was promoted to full colonel in March of 1945. Later that spring he took command of the 2nd Bomb Wing, a position he held until June of 1945. Stewart was one of the few Americans to ever rise from private to colonel in only four years during the Second World War.
As far as movies, themselves, go, Robert Mitchum playing a marine and Deborah Kerr, playing a (gorgeous) nun, in Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison, is a classic
The two are stranded on a Japanese-occupied island in the Pacific Ocean during World War II. The virtues of gallantry and chastity are on full display.
The movie, directed by John Huston, was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Deborah Kerr) and Best Writing and Screenplay.
As we contemplate the issue of the role and behaviors of young men and what “real men” do, it is useful to see what kind of influences produce these “real men.
Steve Straessle, principal of Little Rock Catholic High School for Boys in Little Rock, is a keen observer of young men and their growth and development and a contributor of beautifully written commentaries over the years to One Day at a Time.
Here is an excerpt from a recent column about old fashioned virtues and values.
“Father Tribou’s love for duty no doubt sprang from his depression –era childhood and World War II teen years. He knew life could be rough and the only way to live fully was finding a North Star and staying true to it. Sure, that star may move around in the sky a bit and an approach may have to be adjusted, but it never really disappears.
“The key to duty is discipline and the stories of his tactics changed through the decades he taught, his insistence on high standards did not waver. Father Tribou believed the punishment should fit the crime. He didn’t go overboard for small infractions nor did he wink at larger ones.
“While discipline was a key focus of Father Tribou’s teachings, and just about every Catholic High graduate can retell a story about how he meted out punishments, it was obvious that Father Tribou was at his best in one important aspect of the discipline he demanded: redemption.
“Discipline for discipline’s sake is worthless and mean, he would say. Discipline in order to help a boy sand the rough edges and to embrace the greater aspects of life is priceless. Redemption is the salve that makes mistakes tolerable and helps us find purpose in our missteps.
“Boys do well when they understand boundaries. When the boundaries are easily moved or become sponge-like or are different based on socio-economic status or other exterior characteristics, boys suffer. My counterparts in other high schools and I discuss how all parents want schools to have discipline, but many take that to mean that someone else’s child gets in trouble, never their own. This moving boundary causes turmoil.
“My first day as a freshman at Catholic High was highlighted by a boy walking through the doors that hot August day with long hair, an unshaven face and his shirttail hanging out.
“Despite 700 boys walking in that day, Father Tribou spotted him. He strode up to him and said sternly with a finger pointing at the youngster’s chest, “you cut that hair, you shave that face, and you tuck in that shirt right now. If you don’t like it, find another school.
“The boy looked at him and said four words, “Yes, Father. I’m sorry.
“Fast forward 20 years,” Straessle continues, “and it’s my first day as principal of the school. The exact same thing happened: A young man walked into the school on the first day, and he had long hair, an unshaven face and shirttail hanging out. Man, I knew what to do.
“I walked up to him and said, ‘Young man you cut that hair, shave that face, tuck in that shirt. If you don’t like it, find another school!’”
The young man looked at me and said four words, “I’m the FedEx guy.”