The latest mass shooting in the United States by a young male suspect in Buffalo, New York, again throws the spotlight on hate crime, and fanaticism. It is necessary to talk about how children, especially boys, grow up and what needs to be done to give them more emotional, psychological, and spiritual stability.
Criminologists Michael Gottfredson and Travis Hirschi, found the absence of fathers to be one of the most powerful predictors of crimes. The lack of social bonds and the absence of the “father figure” as a role model for sons, providing structure, authority, and discipline are attributed as some of the key attributes lacking in violent youth.
Researchers Dr. Warren Farrell and John Gray, authors of “The Boy Crisis”, postulate that boys who grow up with an absent father or who don’t have a healthy relationship with their fathers lack a role model for healthy masculinity.
The “purpose void” and ultramasculine role models
Boys’ old senses of purpose, being a warrior, a leader, or a sole breadwinner, are fading. Many bright boys are experiencing a “purpose void”, feeling alienated, withdrawn, and addicted to immediate gratification. Compounding this issue are addicting video games that lead to distraction and ADHD, according to Farrell and Gray.
As boys become young men, their suicide rates go from equal to girls to six times that of young women! Girls seem to outperform boys at every level from education to job performance.
In some cases, these boys then seek ultramasculine role models, feeling empowered by arming themselves with weapons and joining almost exclusively male extremist groups.
These young men appear to be especially drawn to demagogic macho role models offering simple solutions to their own feelings of inadequacy and discontent. Religious minorities, immigrants, or different race groups are targeted. An idealized, orderly state of the past is recalled. A dystopian future lies waiting, ruled by a “fatherly” figurehead in a reborn patriarchy.
How do we confront this poisoning of the mind?
It has to be said that many single mothers bravely and with much personal sacrifice manage to raise healthy, successful, and caring sons. But we do need to look at why most violent crime is committed by men. In the United States, more than nine times as many men (5,037,000) as women (581,000) had ever at one time been incarcerated in a prison. Men also experienced higher victimization rates than females for all types of violent crime.
It takes a village …
The African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child”, highlights the role of family and community in shaping the life of a child. A Swahili proverb takes a similar vein: “Whomsoever is not taught by the mother will be taught with the world.”
It has always been one of the most challenging tasks to raise a child. It is why in traditional African culture this was always seen as a communal responsibility. In our modern cultures the single mother is left without a support structure, having to deal with the double burden of raising a child and earning a living. Apart from the Nordic and some European nations little to no support is provided by the state in terms of pre-school child care and education. Governments fail to realize that the long-term social costs are much higher than providing adequate child support in the first place.
Stress resilience and mental health are built in those strong communities where children are not only bonded to the primary family but to an extended family of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and close friends. It’s where children learn social skills and values from role models who find sense of purpose in serving something greater than short-term self-gratification.
Individual needs versus social and community needs
Our culture has lost its way in over-emphasizing individual needs over the needs of the community and society at large. It’s part of the spiritual disconnect where pseudo-religious groups are replacing institutional religion in the form of extremist political tribes.
From the perspective of the tribal bubble, anyone who looks, believes, and dresses differently is perceived as a threat. Dehumanizing all those who are different is a hallmark of all extremist, religious, and nationalist groupings. The threshold to taking a gun and shooting those who are different becomes very thin, because empathy is felt only to members of one’s own tribe.
Where there is a spiritual connection there is an understanding of purpose. Love is experienced as unconditional and the basis of all life. God is life and God finds expression in nature.
Nobel peace prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu is quoted as saying: “Instead of separation and division, all distinctions make for a rich diversity to be celebrated for the sake of the unity that underlies them. We are different so that we can know our need of one another.”
God’s garden has never been homogeneous stagnation. It is one of beauty inhabited by diverse species, cultures, colors, religions, and beliefs in constant interaction, and interdependence with each other. We define and grow our values, heritage, and culture in a dynamic exchange between opposites. You just need to study nature in order to understand your higher calling.
Experiential spirituality is learning to understand the deeper meaning of self and how your life and purpose is inextricably intertwined with that of the larger whole. True happiness and contentment is found within, undestanding who you are, and emanating that core authenticity outwardly in kindness, love and tolerance.
Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker
One more thing...If you have found this article interesting you might want to subscribe or recommend my FREE weekly Blog to friends and family. My books can be ordered at all places that sell good books in both paperback and kindle.