Tuesday, July 24, 2012

To Find Lost Manhood

I'm often told my posts are positive and optimistic.  This one might seem cynical and dark.  But it's about truth we must face, and I hope you see the optimism behind all truth.


I made it to Denver from Vermont.  I'm staying at the house of my friends, Joan, Sokha, and their daughter Charya.  Now I have to find a ride to my friend Stephanie's in Pagosa Springs in southwestern Colorado.  She plans to take me to our Peace Corps reunion in San Diego at the beginning of August.

My new friends, Sara and Torri, with their children, Ian and Marta, brought me to Denver from Vermont.  Ian (age 9) and Marta (age 7) were a joy to me.

I've gotten to see my friends Cody and Jesse, and Tim and Cherry and their son Daniel, while in Denver.  (Cody, Jesse and Tim are in the book).  Cody just had a dread-cutting party, which I missed, and is now bald.  He had me cut off one of his dreads beforehand, though.

Cambodian Abode

It's interesting staying with Sokha.  Sokha's native Cambodia was devastated by Pol Pot's genocide, on the one hand, and Henry Kissinger's genocide, on the other.  Sokha lost his entire immediate family and many friends to the ravages of genocide and starvation caused by politics.  He keeps telling me about the joyful simplicity of his native Cambodian culture, and can't help but see how ridiculous the rampant materialism and absurd complexity of life in the US has become, even as he is grateful to be here.  He tells me of the generosity and hospitality of Cambodian culture, how anybody can drop in at anybody's house un-announced and be fed, no matter how poor.  And here, in this nation of wealth, you often go away hungry after visiting somebody.  And you can't visit many folks in the US without calling ahead of time to make an appointment, as if you're dealing with a business, not people.  He observes, also, the irony that the more people have, the less they can share. He says, in his Cambodian culture, people don't need accountants, because "never go in debt, spend only what you have only on what you need, and keep only possessions you need, and work only as much as you need" are all you need to know.  

Que Mall 

Joan and I got into a heated discussion about mega churches in Denver - a whole franchise of them - which we've both visited several times.  The churches look like malls - because they are malls, with coffee shops and bookshops in foyers, cash registers and all.  You can't get into the sanctuary without walking through this merchandise department.  And, once you're in the sanctuary, you get to see high tech video screens everywhere with hip bands playing hip music.  To me it's a no-brainer, "Do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise!", you know, what Jesus said as he wielded his whip.  No matter from what angle I look at this, and whatever argument for it I hear, I simply can't help but feel utter disgust.  But there are really nice people in those churches, doing good things, donating lots of money on really nice programs helping lots of people. And the preachers give good, insightful sermons (which, surprise, never ever happen to include Jesus' basic teachings, like about money and possessions, except on rare, rare, rare occasions, only for the sake of explaining them away).  Nice people and nice programs and nice words and the "Gospel" make the pill go down smooth.  I hope to write a full-fledged essay about this for the website.  This is very important, because we're talking a big political force here, not an inane, offbeat religion.  We're talking about a force behind American world policy.

Book Readings I Missed

Mark Sundeen is doing book readings in Albuquerque (Monday the 23rd) and Santa Fe (Tuesday) and invited me to participate, but I couldn't get my act together to hitch hike in the heat out of Denver, which would mean hitching back to Colorado again for my ride to San Diego.  Too much traveling is getting to wear on me.  

mass grave of massacred Cambodians
Which Mass Homicide Do You Prefer?

Most folks have heard about the next mass shooting that happened in the Denver area since I've been here.  We keep thinking these killings are isolated, random, freak events.  But they keep happening.  And they will keep happening, more and more, as certainly as the cause-and-effect laws of physics.  

Mass killings are a guaranteed symptom of a sick society.  

The President with his
future Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
proving their lost manhood
Henry Kissinger got the Nobel Peace Prize, even after he and Richard Nixon master-minded the mass bombings of millions of innocent men, women, and children in Cambodia and Vietnam.  What if the whole nation looked on in horror over Kissinger's acts as it does over James Holmes' killing of 12 people and wounding 58?

"How Many Mass Killers Were Women?"

Columbus' first project on Hispaniola:
proving lost manhood.
The founding seed of America.
My friend Whitney brought out a glaring fact in Facebook: "How many mass killers were women?" She asks. "And violence is overwhelmingly male (both perpetrators and victims). Time to start talking about how to reach young men and help them learn to stop this cycle."  And she references this article by Erika Christakis: 

Some men brought up the fact there are isolated instances of women serial and mass murderers, too.  But that doesn't erase the obvious, that the overwhelming majority of killers have been males.

Whitney's comment:  "I'd like to see a much more open attitude toward mental illness. We should make it not only possible, but acceptable to say 'hey, I'm hearing voices in my head]' or 'Mom, Dad, I'm really pissed off and want to shoot someone' and know that while these things are not normal, they're nothing to be ashamed of, and that there are ways to help and feel better."

"Hmm... I'm dazed and confused...
after all that,
I still can't find my manhood!
I guess, to be a man, you have to
be like Kissinger & Columbus,
and massacre thousands or millions!

Another fb person explained it by saying it's due to lowered levels of testosterone, brought on by bad diet, lack of exercise, and environmental toxins.

I agree with both the above, and add my own observation as a male who went through suicidal clinical depression. Self destruction.  I'll dare find the rage that I felt in myself and shed some light on this.  Here was my response to the conversation.  This is not about excusing the mass murderers.  We're each responsible for ourselves.  Yet we can never be responsible until we realize the whole society is ourselves:  

"It's pretty damned obvious males don't feel useful and feel emasculated in a control-freak society obsessed with security and fear. Boys don't play in the woods any more, don't explore, don't experience the natural dangers of life that we all need (yes need, like we need air) and learn how to cope with challenges. 

It's a principle of biology. Don't allow your body to naturally deal with illness and pain, popping antibiotics & painkillers at the drop of a hat, and our immune systems get weak, and our bodies start attacking themselves. Auto-immune diseases, cancer and mental illness are more rampant than ever before. 

"I have no doubt about my masculinity,
and I'm  not even a man!
Maybe if I stop cockfighting petty individuals
and dabble in massacre,
I'll become a man!"
Socially, this is true. History and biology show us males are, generally speaking, the antibodies of society. It's in their genetics to protect, and this is repressed. Is a rooster stupid for being "cocky," or is this its biology? Now they begin attacking their own selves, own societies. The more males get bashed for being male, the more their repressed anger boils. How long does a cap stay on a pressure cooker that has no release? 

In physics this is true. Can we eliminate negatives when for every positive there is an equal and opposite negative? Won't the negatives backlash in violence? Instead of fighting and denying what will never, ever, ever go away (night, winter, violence, anger, aging, death) why not just accept it all as natural and then finally live with it in balance?"

I often hear how it's such a wonderful thing how civilized we are from our barbaric tribal days, and how we continue to civilize barbaric tribes the world over.  But does the barbarism of the Yanomamo and head-hunting Juarani in the Amazon even begin to hole a candle to to the incessant mass genocide and perpetual, prolonged suffering promoted by commercial civilization?  But we wrap our mass murders in methodical, civilized morality, even as we are appalled at splinters in the eyes of "barbarians." And what a pretty wrapping it is, huh?

How can we be happy dealing only with the symptoms when our system itself is flawed to its very foundation?  There's often no better way to see a system for what it is than to step outside of it.  To find a real man, that is the manly challenge.