Advice For Young Men: An Introduction

When I started this blog, I wanted to do something positive, but being a human it’s taken me a while to realize what that is. I hold myself to a high standard, but lately, I’ve been doing so through a gentle coaxing of the kind uncle instead of the tyrannical dictator.

To be a young man, of any race or creed, in this time is difficult. This is an unprecedented time of change, and while I see a preponderance of people rising up to help those around them, I see no one doing so for the young men of the world.

This is not to say we can diminish the struggles of our brother’s and sisters. This is not my purpose, I want to hold them up, but in order to do that without a grimy layer of resentment bubbling under the surface, to defeat the demons we must address those people who are currently feeling attacked.

I am not saying the vitriol being thrown the way of the male isn’t justified due to the past behaviors of our ancestors, there have been many, many, many, tragedies visited upon the world by the leaders of the past. I am simply saying that in order to break the cycle we must learn.

I am a 31 year old strait white man. I am not qualified to speak on the issues of race, or sex. So I will speak on the issues that I know, the process of being a confused young man who got lucky enough not to fall into the pit of Misogyny and Hate.

Moreover, I want to offer advice to those men who know the role-models presented to them are not correct, but know not where to look.

This series will not be a pity party, nor an invitation to hate, but instead a series of lessons, I learned that delivered me from existential hell to some semblance of understanding.

I won’t say happiness, or peace , or balance. Those are not states of being but acts undertaken, but more on that later.

Instead I will say this. If you are lost, I cannot tell you the way, but I can show you what worked for me. I am writing primarily for young men, but the advice presented here works for anyone really.

It is the accumulation of 18 years of suffering, journalism, reading, studying and meditation. Talk is cheap, but it’s all I have to give.

So I hope to talk to you about the things I’ve learned as a young man in a changing world, not from a place of pity, but from a place of struggle, and struggle, the struggle is everything.

Knowledge is not Power

UCLA Library By Jemore at French Wikipedia.

In the time between the 1950s and the early 2000s, knowledge was power. Information hid behind books, in scholarly papers, and in the minds of scholars.

Going to college qualified you for the highest positions of employment on the basis alone that you had access to this forbidden knowledge and more importantly the proof you’d studied it.

The university education however, began to slip with the introduction of the internet, and the paradigm of power shifted as fast internet evolved.

As a child, we’d wait 10 minutes for a 5 minute video to load, lectures that were an hour long would take 1-2 hours of uninterrupted loading, and considering that the internet used to take a phone-line to connect that was a tall order.

With the advent of faster internet and the slow building of the Internet’s collective database, information long lost to the stacks of libraries became easily accessible.

Businesses no longer needed an MBA candidate to tell them how to run their marketing at top level, when they could simply look up what that candidate knew.

Without really meaning to the internet transformed the once instant success of a college degree into a hollow shell of a requirement, many businesses demanding it for tasks as simple as mail room attendant.

Moreover, it should be stated that universities were not ever constructed upon the basis of job skills training. While this was often a pleasant side effect of the educations received at these places, the true purpose of any university is the advancement of knowledge. The teaching parts were often stapled on as an unpleasant reality for many a researcher, a requirement to receive the funding they need.

The outside world, the business world, decided collectively that the job should be correlated to the education, though as of late one might argue this is simply a convenience measure for their HR departments to quickly remove a swath of candidates from the running of any one position.

Thus, as knowledge became easily available it became worthless, and little has come in its wake to replace it. Or so it seems. As a new resource once seen as trivial replaced it.

Attention.

What is Mankind to do?

Embed from Getty Images

I am not here to disparage or discount the suffering of those people oppressed by systems put into practice long before I walked this noble earth.

I come only to ask a simple question? What is the way forward?

I see now the justifiable pain of millions swelling before us like a tide that threatens to destroy all in its path, but beyond it, I see the counter.

History is a pendulum of bloodshed perpetuated upon one another for the slights of the past.

It only stops when the debts of the past are forgiven.

Now people misunderstand that word. To forgive is not to forget. When you forgive a debt it is not struck from the ledger, and anyone who wanted to could look back and see that the debt existed and to whom it was owed.

However, to forgive the debt means that it shan’t be collected upon. That those to whom it is owed decided to let it slide, not out of compulsion, but out of a desire to stop a cycle of violence, and oppression.

I am not so naive to think people will want to forgive, and I am not so naive to think that everyone on the side of control will even be able to see that they owe a debt to those they’ve oppressed, but I hope that this generation can learn.

We’ve tried hyper capitalism, we’ve tried communism, and hate, and war. We’ve done it all. The ideologies of the past have failed and yet I do not see many who are volunteering new ones?

The way forward I think is to look at the past, and forgive it. To realize that to be Err is human and then with a heavy sigh begin the difficult work of a holistic and nuanced ideology based not on a single utopian idea, but perhaps under a realistic embrace of the idea that we are never done.

There is no stopping point for the human race, because to be complicated is to be subject to entropy. Everything falls apart, everything changes, no static system can stop that, mainly because those systems were built by ever changing humans.

So what is a mankind to do? Mankind must use our great big beautiful brains to think ourselves out of the problems of the past. Or at least die trying.

We don’t sweep a floor once and think, “there, I’ll never have to sweep it ever again.” so why would we assume something as complicated as politics would be that way?

The Loss of Legacy: Part 1

We live in a strange world. A world where no one thought we’d make it through the 1960’s-1990’s. I recall my mother having the TV on one day, it was 1991, I was 3 years old, but I still can recall her looking at the TV in shock and awe. I would later learn the reason, or I should say understand what she was responding to. My mother was born in the heart of the cold war, and she watched her immortal, ever present enemy crumble on live television.

My mother like most Americans did Nuclear bomb drills, and the whole of the world went through an existential crisis. Existentialism was nothing new, individually, culturally, or even on a national level. However, in the face of Nuclear Annihilation, all of this seemed petty.

Suddenly with but a fraction of the sun’s power we discovered the first man made global existential threat, the Nuclear weapon. And if we want to be candid that is all a nuclear bomb is, a piece of solar energy brought here to terra firma.

The nuclear bomb still looms in the world, do not get me wrong, North Korea, and Iran both seek to bolster their political might with their own pieces of the sun.

However, the bomb dominated the lives of those who lived and were born from 1955-1991. The USSR stood posed to destroy the world, and the USA went along with them piling the bomb high and hard, making more and more destructive weapons. Each side bragged about and showed of how powerful their own arsenal was in an ever present game of chicken that would result in the complete annihilation of the human race. If not from hellfire from nuclear winter that would soon follow.

Starvation is never a pretty sight, and the nuclear winter that would follow a nuclear war would starve billions. The human race suddenly faced it’s own doom, brought on not by an army or a pestilence but by a fraction of a fraction of a star’s power, and they stood, as a babe before the storm, naked and afraid.

With this in mind, we began to see the decline of legacy, and the rise of I have to get mine now, and the future is none of my concern.

And this makes sense, why plan for a future that from all the media, from all the nervous chatter, might never come?

Continued in part 2:

And the worst part is… we are all doing the best we can.

I am a highly critical individual. My primary focus is myself. Lately, I’ve been working on becoming more accepting of the universe. More accepting of the sticky F key on my laptop, more accepting of my erratic sleep schedule, and more accepting of my penchant for emotional outbursts.

The world is on fire right now, but in it’s defense it’s been burning for a long time. The embers that started this fire are at their youngest 500 years old. I am not the right person to comment on all this, I am a Hetero white guy, living in an upper middle class suburb outside one of the richest cities in LA. All I can say is, well F#*$.

My mind jumps to be critical, but the voice of mindfulness puts a gentle hand on my shoulder, and I recall, there is no better reality where none of this happens. Everyone, including me, is doing their best, and it’s all a tragedy.

That does not mean we cannot change the future. I’ve just realized that I cant fix now because now is already too late.

It’s hard to see a path forward in this land of desolation, where 100 companies create nearly 70% of all pollution, a corrupt political system rots slowly around us, and people of color are gunned down without cause or consequence to the killer. But, what else can a man do?

This morning I sat with this overwhelming sadness, before reminding myself of my favorite metaphor of mindfulness.

One does not sweep a floor with the intent that this will be the last time the floor will ever have to be swept, one sweeps the floor because it is dirty. The floor will become dirty again, but that is a problem for the future.