Torch or Baton?
How will we secure the next generation of young men?
We have all heard it.
One man passing the "baton" to another. A father passes a baton to a son, an outgoing CEO passes one to the incoming one, or a retiring athlete passes the baton to his younger successor. Nice idea but wrong metaphor when it comes to faith, mentoring, leading, and discipleship. Why wrong? Because from the first relays in ancient Greece to the world track and field championships of today runners who pass a baton stop running after handing it off. One runner completely powers off and shuts down while the new baton carrier turns the afterburners on and powers up.
That’s why I prefer torches to batons when I talk about generational impact. Torches transfer the flame while continuing to stay lit themselves to shine light and ignite fires elsewhere.
High school pick up.
I wish that meant the act of picking up my sophomore daughter in the car. But after sitting in the car waiting for her to leave cheer practice, observing the parking lot “happenings,” and filtering what I saw as a dad, I am convinced we have epidemic cluelessness as fathers. “High school pick up” is a theme not for cars or carpools here, but for what is happening to daughters of clueless dads being visually and physically preyed upon by young boys looking for the next girl they can conquer. So… dad… let’s start by talking about the clothes your daughter wears for a moment.
What’s your stance on shorts? I am not talking about the kind a dad in Utah protested recently by wearing cut off Daisy Duke style jean shorts to teach his daughter a lesson in modesty. I am talking about the booty shorts or yoga pants that leave no curve or cheek to the imagination becoming acceptable in the name of sports or cheer or exercise. My “high school pick up” experience made this loving father mad: one football player and eight female high school volleyball players in the parking lot all in booty shorts and cut off shirts. Forget about the guy for second. Think about these young girls as a father. At that moment I wish I could have every dad of a high school girl on a simulcast conference from the parking lot. Listen: high school boys DO NOT need to see your daughters butt cheeks or draw them into imagining what they are like. I am not suggesting pants. Nor am I suggesting pulling out the tape measure. You were a young man once right? You know too short when you see it. That’s usually synonymous with too tight, too revealing, and way too visually noticeable.
Bored, unsupervised, fatherless boys are to policemen what “unaccounted for” uranium represents to counter-terrorism worldwide—a threat to peace, to innocent people, and a major problem that demands attention. Among boys all it takes to “weaponize” the plentiful supply of youthranium in our country today is a really bad idea offered in vacuum of moral convictions. Deep within the brain of one our nation’s fatherless at the center of the latest “boys gone evil” news story, a spark was felt, a neuron fired, and words were expressed. “I got it!” he says. “Wouldn’t it be cool if… we killed someone?” The idea is welcomed and executed without filters or objection. This is gonna be fun.
Meet the Lost Boys.
They have been on their own since they were little and have remained on their own as boys hoping to become men. Raised by single mothers, they have been unsupervised and un-mentored by any male figure as long they can remember. The macabre and toxic excitement rising from this deadly brainstorm is not just about a lazy summer, it’s about becoming men in a cesspool of broken male culture, character, and conduct that becomes the norm for lost boys. This broken culture produces beliefs (about self and others) and behaviors shaped by peer angst and self loathing instead of fatherly concern and modeling. The result: broken male culture that trains young men to act selfishly and separate their hearts from their heads when a decision they make impacts others negatively. It’s called alexithymia. Look it up. The root words that form the word mean to “repel” (alexo) and “the soul” (thumos). It is a picture of being emotionally dead.