Once a week, I drive into Cleveland to mentor a fourth-grader at lunchtime. His family situation is difficult and he has issues with a classmate or two. We talk about how to deal with these things.
He has some wonderful gifts and talents, and I encourage him whenever I can.
On another front, I drive for my work, often in city traffic. I frequently let drivers merge in front of me who are waiting to exit a grocery store parking lot or the local McDonald’s.
On yet another side, there are six of us at the “office” where I work – five women and me. The staff nurse is a woman, the boss’ boss is a woman, the boss’ boss’ boss is a woman …
And I get along with all of them just fine. I take directions well, and try to be as supportive and encouraging of an employee as I can.
I also have a social media presence, where it’s easy to hide my introvertedness and encouraging spirit to join the fray like so many people do.
A social media discussion
Quite a few of my closest friends avoid social media for this reason. It’s so negative. That’s all they see.
But social media, like any form of technology, is a tool. It’s inanimate. It’s what we make it. Pornography abounds here, but so do uplifting sites and pages with specific interests that I follow.
Social media is a wonderful place to connect long-distance with friends and former co-workers. But it’s easy for those of you who don’t know me well or haven’t seen me in awhile to misunderstand who I am or where I’m coming from. We hide behind the technology very well.
Social media often is controversial. I pick my battles carefully there.
I picked one last week that sparked an enlightening discussion.
The Boy Scouts of America announced that for the first time in their century-old history, they would begin accepting girls. On a friend’s post about that, I offered this comment:
Boys are no longer allowed to become young men. That’s what we’ve lost. We are raising a unisex nation, where boys and girls are not only “equal,” they are no longer different – despite their obvious differences. And we wonder why our nation has lost its way. This is the main reason right here.
I’ve seen articles saying the Boy Scouts’ decision to accept girls was a business decision, and not to make a social statement. But they made a social statement.
I brought up a concept I wish this country understood. I first encountered this in college in the late 1970s, and it’s even more prevalent today:
Different doesn’t mean inferior. Or superior.
This is obvious to me, but not to many Americans.
I’m so sorry about the Harvey Weinstein saga and the resulting #MeToo hashtag, which is showing that sexual harassment in all its forms is far more prevalent than we thought it was. In no way am I defending this.
But by saying that different doesn’t mean inferior or superior, I’m branded as a power-hungry white American male who just wants to keep women in their place – a lesser place than where men are, apparently.
In the social media discussion I raised the concepts of love and respect, which several women in the thread rejected as a power grab. Men say they give love and want respect, but only to remain in authority.
I wrote that by love I mean Biblical love, not love as America understands it. The woman whom I had the best discussion with on this topic said she’s not a “believer” and doesn’t know about Biblical love. I said it’s worth exploring, and left it at that.
I felt the discussion was good and helpful, at least to me.
Others chimed in and saw me as the typical white American male who doesn’t understand the struggles of women. I can’t deny I am a white American male.
Does that automatically make me power hungry?
I know many men who do not fit that profile, and we raise sons who love and respect the women (and men – and animals, for that matter) in their lives as well.
But as I said on another thread, the men who truly are power hungry get all the headlines. They rape, they commit other crimes against humanity, they talk and live as ego-driven alphas …
I cannot defend them, nor should I. At times I am ashamed to be a white American male. Far too many of us abuse our positions of authority and leadership. It’s no wonder women are fighting back.
But not all of us guys are power-hungry egomaniacs.
How can I convince you of that?
By my lifestyle.
I don’t have to mentor an inner-city fourth-grader. I don’t have to let traffic merge in front of me. I don’t have to donate blood, which I’ve done for more than three decades and which benefits people I will never know.
I don’t do such things for your compliments. I’m not interested in a full trophy case. I don’t need the corner office or the big salary or the job title. If a woman attains those things, I’ll celebrate her accomplishments and do what I can to help her continue to grow professionally. I’ve had a number of female supervisors over the years, and nearly all of them did – and do – their jobs well. It’s not hard for me to respect a woman in authority, or as a peer.
Equal but different? Why is that such a hard concept to understand?
On a football team, there are 11 players on offense, but only one is the quarterback. If the “big uglies,” the offensive linemen, don’t do their jobs, the quarterback can’t do his either. They need each other. Their jobs are very different. They have different skill sets and do different things.
But everyone on the offense, all 11 players, has the same goal: to score a touchdown. Each of them has to do his part well for that to happen.
Men understand this. We all dream of being the star quarterback, but in real life, we know better.
A power grab? No. Men and women are teammates in this game called life. Numerous books have been written on the differences between men and women. This is not rocket science.
We – men and women – ignore this to our own peril.
We’re partners in every sense of that word.