Finding the way out of no man’s land

I’ve been meaning to write this for a while now. It’s been swirling in my brain, heart, and gut for quite a while, but every time I feel like I’m close to putting fingers to keyboard, I shy away, worried of the reaction from all sides.

It’s a sensitive topic, you see. A white guy writing to other white guys about being a white guy in today’s society and culture.

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The perfect white guy

A while back when I was talking to a female friend (who’s an avowed progressive) about the possibility of running for office, she looked at me very seriously and said,

“You’re the perfect white guy.”

What she meant was that I did a reasonably good job of standing up for people that aren’t straight, white, and male while looking very much like I wouldn’t. A donkey in elephant’s clothing, I joked.

I’ve done a lot of thinking about this since that day, and have realized that there are a lot of straight, white men just like me. We understand the advantage inherent in who we are. We welcome diversity of culture and opinion into our lives. We intervene when we see overt injustice.

But, yet, in today’s world, we’re also seen as the root of all problems. The oppressors, the 1%, the privileged. That creates an almost untenable conundrum in how to navigate our current progressive political culture.

I don’t intend this as any sort of sob fest for straight, white guys. Far from it. I know exactly how good I (and we) have it. It just makes me wonder how effective it is to amplify the far left’s “white male privilege is the root of all evil” mantra when there are plenty of white men who are standing squarely on the side of justice.

Perhaps it’s time we cool down the rhetoric and ideology and start engaging each other as individuals instead of labels.

Throwing away the man card

Like many parents around the country, my head and heart have been ricocheting between helpless desperation and new-found resolve since the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. As the events of that day unfolded, I sat in utter shock. It was impossible to put myself in the place of those children, teachers and parents, as my mind simultaneously tried to imagine myself in and ran away from the images and stories.

Intellectually, I know that violence against innocents is a regular occurrence in places far away, rarely even a footnote on the nightly news ticker. What we felt in Newtown is a daily horror for many parents around the globe. But Newtown struck at our hearts because it was so close to home.

My entirety screamed for a solution. I wanted an end to this mindless violence, to know what we needed to do as a society (and as individuals) to stop these things from happening. I ran the mental gamut from gun control to mental health treatment to better security in our schools. I read argument after political argument over what our response should entail, trying to answer the question so many of us had: “What can we do?” Read More