Saturday, March 10, 2012

raising boys

A week or so after the birth of my son I went into a panic. A thought had struck me: How am I going to raise this boy so that he becomes a good, decent and loving man?

I believe that times are confusing for men, and they have been for a while. It's hard to like yourself when the undercurrent in the world around you is that being a man is tainted with the misdoings of men throughout history. It is the maleness of the wrongdoers, not their social standing, race, religion etc. that is remembered.
Foolish young Australian rules footballers don't act the way they do because they are men, they act like that because they have been treated a particular way, and they believe that they are invincible and above the law. Other than a few notable stand outs like Jim Stynes and the few non Anglo players, they come from a particular social set, went to particular schools etc.

We live in a society where men play out a historical role as the bad guys, and to a small degree I will go along with this. Oppression on the basis of race, gender and entire societies through the past couple of thousand years has been attributed to a status-quo in which men were the leaders.

I think that the tide has turned, but people are slow to adjust and it seems a natural human trait to live in the past when it comes to tragedy: I am fine, but many of my forefathers suffered at the hands of the "Insert Conquerors Here", so I hate them and their descendents.

A common thread throughout oppressive societies in recent (last few thousand years) history has been the Judeo-Christo-Islamic or Abrahamic religious traditions. Three streams of Male dominated movements: Islam, Christianity and Judaism, spread often with oppressive, military and political might, have shaped most of the world at one time or another. Women rarely hold positions of influence in each of these traditions, and as a result, have missed out on education, independent advancement etc.

It's really no coincidence that religious participation and attendance is down amongst educated populations. People are waking up, but it takes more than a generation.

Germain Greer, whilst she is a bitter, dried up old has-been, has a point a lot of the time, but with women running corporations and female heads of state all over the "less unenlightened" world, I think that the oppression of anyone can no longer be laid at the feet of men and their testosterone.

Lets go back to Acton's old adage: "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely".

Women and men throughout the ages really bear this out. Monarchs have not always been as ineffectual and in-bred as they are today, and both women and men have committed horrendous crimes against fellow human beings in the name of God and sovereignty.

So back to my boy. He's not the bad guy! Of course he needs to be raised properly, away from religion, angry bitter women and foolish ego driven men. His gender won't define who he is and what he does, his mind will. I'm sure Hitlers mum and dad hoped for better for their son, but without religious tradition Hitler may have stuck to painting, the Conquistadors may not have wiped out the Mayan civilisation, the Middle East could be famous only for oil and camels, Pakistan and India would be one country.
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