Dr. Helen

Is "Lack of Manliness" the Cause of Mass Shootings?

Here at PJ media, Tyler O’Neil has a post entitled “Lack of Manliness Is Real Culprit Behind Mass Shootings”:

The best response to such tragedies is to understand the motivations behind them — and encourage angry young men to channel their frustration into healthier pursuits. Fulton Sheen wrote that “as the goal and purpose of life is lost, men become violent.” Without a solid foundation — a cultural and moral exemplar of what it means to be a self-restrained, responsible man — many young men grow up with a vacuum for their basic male instincts. This leads the socially distressed to act out, and puts us all in danger.

If, as a society, we relearn how to encourage boys to grow into responsible men, we might stand a fighting chance at addressing the root anguish and anger behind these attacks — and have better families and healthier relationships as a result.

In order to reduce the mass shootings, O’Neil thinks society must rediscover true manhood:

A real man works hard and fights for his home, family, God and country. As Hector (Eric Bana) in the movie Troy declares, “honor the gods, love your woman, and protect your country!”

This older and more firm moral foundation has an impressive pedigree. The classical Greco-Roman virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance mixed well with the Christian virtues of faith, hope and charity. This bedrock of character formation was the centerpiece of the medieval university, and even the modern colleges and universities throughout early America and past the Civil War.

The moral foundation behind such men as George Washington and William Wilberforce taught young frustrated men to direct their passions toward positive pursuits, and helped create a culture of freedom and virtue.

While some argue that restraining sexual energy and focusing it on marriage and on fulfilling one’s duty is “repressive,” this alternative lifestyle actually cuts down on sexual frustration for less successful men. If even the most impressive hunk has to limit his sexuality to one wife — or at least make a show of doing so — that leaves more available women, and makes other men less jealous. Monogamy may seem repressive, but it actually promotes social cohesion and sexual equality.

This solution is so complex on so many levels, it is hard to explore in one short post. But here goes: It is hard to love a country that doesn’t love you. It is hard to have monogamy and a wife when the laws and cultural milieu from grade school to college and beyond say that you are a predator who is out to hurt women when you can’t even get one and that is a tough pill to swallow for a regular guy, much less a mentally disturbed one. To learn morality for many, one must see others act in a moral manner.

In today’s world, we rarely see morality acted out by others, and young men are said to be the most immoral creatures on the planet as anyone with a Y chromosome knows full well. Immorality becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy after hearing that you are a danger for so long. To treat others well, one generally needs to be treated well themselves and rewarded for decent behavior. This often does not happen for young men. The decent are often treated with contempt by society and if male, by many women who don’t want a decent guy until later in life, if at all. The cultural message to women is “You go girl!” but to men, it is “You suck, you dangerous perverted rapist!” How is a young man to learn morality with this message?

The current dynamic in our society is to punish the moral, decent and monogamous male with a combination of contempt, unfair marital laws and apathy to his emotional life. And yes, the narcissistic and entitled are often rewarded so these characteristics can be combined with emotional disturbance to create a disaster. Add to this the lack of intervention into these young men’s mental health issues and you have some ticking time bombs ready to explode when the time seems right. If the emotional well-being of young men is causing them to act out dangerously (though mass shootings are rare), then we need to treat their emotional lives as more important. The first step is to stop treating men like dangerous losers and more like valuable citizens in a free society. Would this stop all mass killings? Maybe not, but it might cause some to reconsider harming others and those lives saved are worth the effort.