An Autopsy of The American Man – Part I

The Gridiron:

I coached youth football for several years and one year we played in a really large division and put together a really great team. In our division of 16 teams, someone decided that it would be a good idea that year if ALL SIXTEEN teams made the playoffs! They created a “championship” bracket and a “consolation bracket” of 8 teams each, dividing the 8 teams with the best records and the 8 teams with the losing records.

As a reward in our league, it’s always been a big deal to play our league’s final championship game in the stadium at Vanderbilt University. In this particular year, however, both the “championship” AND the “consolation championship” games were played there, and they both won the SAME SIZE TROPHY! Essentially, the #1 and the #9 teams of our division were crowned champions.

Our team finished #3 that season (10-2 record) and had to sit and watch the #9 team (4-8 record) celebrate like mad, dump gatorade on the coach, and walk out of the stadium with a big-ass trophy…

You’re not champions you dip-shits!  You finished in NINTH PLACE!

Congratulations, Here’s Your Trophy:

What does that trophy mean these days? It’s really nothing more than a memento to mark another season where the winning team gets the same trophy as the team that went 0-12 under an inept coach who told his players they were still winners in his book. Where does it lead? Kids see through that bullshit, sorry. They know who wins and who loses, so by presenting them a trophy that means nothing it tells the kid that he/she means nothing either – they’re just another kid marking another spot on another team in another season.

You’re Doing It Wrong…

My first coaching experience many years ago came in flag football with 6 year olds. Near the end of my first game ever, I lost track of the score in my head and wanted to be sure I knew the both time left on the clock and the point differential to ensure victory. “What’s the score ref?” I shouted – bad idea…  He whipped his head around and gave me a look like I was out of my mind. A mom on the sideline shouted “we don’t keep score!!!!”. Uh-oh… I’d read about this new sporting phenomenon of no winners / no losers in the USA Today, but this was my first time to experience it. Not good…

Later in the season we were annihilating a team as I ran our offense without a huddle so we could begin plays before the defense got set. The other coach kept telling me to wait so he could set his defense, but the whole idea of a “no huddle offense” is to pound your opponent’s defense until they begin to question their pathetic existence in life. We kept pushing. He finally exploded, shouting, “YOU HAVE TO GIVE MY DEFENSE TIME TO GET READY!!!!” To which I responded “YOU’VE HAD ALL WEEK TO GET READY!!!!” He replied “YOU’RE VIOLATING THE SPIRIT OF THE GAME!!!” To which I responded “THE SPIRIT OF THE GAME IS TO WIN!!!!” Wrong thing to say?

Back In My Day…

Please allow me to go “old man” for a second… I rode my bike to school all the time in 5th – 8th grade. I recently went back to visit my home town and drove my bike route to show my kids. It was 2.2 miles one-way, crossed two 4-lane roads, and crossed one state highway with a median in it.

Today, there is a bus stop in our neighborhood less than 400 yards from the front door of our local school. I am not making this up. It’s 399.2 yards to be exact. Why the bus? It’s too dangerous to ride your bike (or walk) to school because there is no crossing guard on the tiny little 2-lane country road between our neighborhood and the school – or so says the school principal who also has an “Expectation Matrix” posted on the front door of the cafeteria outlining the behaviors she expects to see throughout the day. Again, I am not making this up. We drive a school bus belching CO2 less than 400 yards so we can teach these poor kids about the dangers of CO2 because walking 400 yards to school is dangerous.

Primitive Man:

I’ve always been amused at the negative connotation surrounding the word “primitive”, especially in describing someone who may be a bit old-fashioned. Let’s look at the basic fundamentals required of a “primitive man”:

  • Design, build, maintain his own shelter
  • Design, build, use his own tools and weapons
  • Hunt, catch, trap his own food (protein)
  • Grow, cultivate, gather his own food (fruits & vegetables)
  • Clean, cook, preserve his own food
  • Maintain a sanitary water supply
  • Make and mend his own clothing
  • Tame and break wild animals for his own use (dogs, horses, oxen)
  • Administer first aid, care for his own health and well-being
  • Defend himself against attack from both nature and enemies

Let’s look at what a man of advanced society can do in relation to the above:

  • Can’t remember his Netflix password…

Where Did We Change Course?

I’m not sure we teach good life skills in school anymore. Sure we teach reading, writing, math, and science but here’s a life skill for ya – the ability to out-fight those who can outrun you and outrun those who can out-fight you.

I used to look forward to boxing in PE every year when I was in school. We had a ton of fun slugging out in the ring with large padded gloves, mouthpieces, and clumsy headgear. This is where we learned to fight, an admirable skill for a man.

Today, with a PB&J sandwich in a school lunchroom considered a Red Alert Danger, I can’t imagine the PE teacher’s reaction to the idea of teaching boxing. Aside from the grave physical threat, there is also the grave psychological threat of there being a winner and loser. Someone getting knocked down in the ring and having to get back up and try again is not acceptable. As we seek to accommodate the lowest common denominators of society some schools don’t even announce a valedictorian any more – it’s become an unacceptable indication of someone “winning”.

Remember The Trades?

So no more boxing (or dodgeball – my other favorite) in school – too dangerous. What’s next to go? The trades. Working with a wrench, cutting wood with a power saw, getting your hands dirty? That is a big part of the essence of a man, right!? I guess it used to be anyway.

Remember machine shop, woodworking, and small engine repair classes in school? Those are things of the past… who needs those antiquated skills in a modern society? Plus, those classes are dangerous! Instead, let’s get the obese wrestling coach to teach a “Lifetime Wellness” class. (I’m not making this up…)

Common Core…

What we teach now is a “common core curriculum” where individual skills are suppressed and a common set of skills is advanced – and trust me, these skills do not involve any drills, saws, or boxing gloves. Students are herded through school and all taught the same thing, with the same education path, the same goals, and they all go after the same jobs and they’re all promised the same thing.

The result? First of all, there a lot of folks with 4 year degrees pathetically pushing the “GO” button on the latte-maker at Starbucks, hoping to push it enough times to pay off a burdening student loan. Second, something as simple as changing a capacitor on an HVAC system or replacing a belt on a clothes dryer will trip up most men these days. Before even making an attempt, many will just write a 3-digit check to an “expert” or call Home Depot to have them deliver a new replacement. It’s going to be hard to cut back in times of financial hardship when we teach our men to outsource even the most menial of tasks.

The Dumb Kids:

The work of electricians, carpenters, plumbers, and mechanics is vital to the quality of life for everyone. Sadly our “common core curriculums” and academic testing requirements mean that most schools are not able to address these life skills anymore. So who goes into the trades? The “dumb kids”, the kids “who aren’t cut out for college”, or the “kids who can’t qualify for a real education” – or so says the modern vernacular. It’s simply not gonna be sexy to post a picture on Facebook of your kid heading off to Diesel Mechanics School – and that’s a damn shame.

Trades are seen as second-rate options for students who can’t make the academic cut. But go back and look at the skill set of the primitive man above – these were once basic skills necessary for survival and now those who pursue them are marginalized, downgraded, outcast, and labeled as “misfits”. I have a feeling many of them will have the last laugh. I hope they do. The time its ripe for the contrarian.

Today’s Man:

So what is the American Man these days? A man who can fish, hunt, trap, work with knives, accurately shoot firearms, successfully grow crops, and build a simple structure for his family is for some reason usually not portrayed in a positive light – he’s a primitive man (negative connotation).

It gets even worse for a man down South as he’s more apt to be called a redneck. More and more, I think our modern society feels threatened by a primitive man and must work to segregate him from society as an outsider, a misfit, or a downright degenerate. Even phrases like “man up” or “be a man” have been deemed offensive today – they’re threatening, or something like that…

It gets even worse for the Christian man, for he is the last entity on earth that can be vilified for his beliefs without the protection of any “phobe” or “anti” or “ism” monikers working on his behalf. He’s ridiculed for clinging to guns & religion, and referred to as deplorable for his beliefs.

The Expert…

So where are we now? Today, a man buys a $50,000 car and must employ an “expert” to do a simple oil change. A man buys a home worth over a 1/2 million dollars and must call an “expert” when the sink disposal gets jammed. When a mixture of simple sugar and borax will eliminate your ant problem, a man feels he must pay Orkin $60/month so an “expert” can come over with simple sugar and borax. Power outages lasting more than a few hours will send entire communities into free-fall as men watch their families run out of food and water in a matter of hours. For many men, their plan to defend themselves or their family against an enemy attack is to be dependent upon the mercy and/or ineptitude of their attacker. No Bueno.

Being a Good & Common Man…

Why do we cultivate this kind of man today? A conforming man dependent upon the government for a majority of his needs will be a good boy. Silent worker = good worker. This man will go to work, work hard, climb the corporate ladder, pay taxes, and fuel the economy with his spending that conforms to advertising and societal norms – consuming more than his paycheck can justify and working until he is almost dead in a feeble attempt to pay for it all. He will not fight back against a cavity search by the TSA or phone surveillance by the NSA. He will be convinced to gladly give up freedoms in exchange for promises of more protection and care by a larger government – and a larger government will gladly oblige to take those freedoms, turning that care and protection into power. Barely a whimper will be heard when his Social Security payments are cut or his retirement age is raised. His pension is a shell of its promised value and often he is worth more dead than he is alive. Yet in all of this he is fearful to speak out against what is perceived as “the new normal”, for examples have been made of those with independent thought that goes against the grain of the jesters who hold sway in the court of public option. This is going to get real and it’s going to be a hell of a lot of fun…

Stay tuned – the autopsy of The American Man has just begun.

Grant Wood's "American Gothic"
Grant Wood’s “American Gothic”

 

 

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