Jonah Goldberg has an interesting article stating that Western ISIS recruits are losers! I have been saying this for years about these young men who join these radical groups
While this is definitely true, simply writing them off as losers will not solve the problem at hand. The larger problem is that we have a generation of young men and boys of all races and faiths that are disenfranchised and are essentially “checking out” of society because we have largely marginalized them. This is especially true as our society has put more emphasis on educating our girls while leaving our boys to the X-box, social media and/or the basketball court.
This manifests itself in different ways in the various ways: from boys entering college less to the decrease in marriage. However, in the Muslim communities it is manifesting itself (albeit in rare cases) in young men reaching out to join radical groups that are (falsely) offering them meaning to their lives.
The problem of these “loser” boys has grown to such an extent that we do not even understand these young men at all and have largely left them to raise themselves. We need to change course and actively engage them and challenge them to grow up! But before we do that, we must talk TO them and stop talking ABOUT them. Before we can challenge them to grow up, we have to show them what “grown up” actually means. We older men must accept our own responsibility in leading these boys and young men to the path of being REAL men. We are going to have to enlarge the sphere of – and I’m sorry to have to say this – manliness.
We need to teach our boys (on a daily basis) that a REAL man takes care of his responsibilities and does not run away on some foolish adventure! A real man recognizes that there is beauty in the world and that it is not all dystopian and doom and gloom. There are some beautiful things out there. We men are actually going to have to be men in our lives again. The men have to start putting their foot down and start running their families as a family. (Does it need to be said that I do not mean here a dictator who beats his wife and kids? The fact that some would take it that way shows just how far astray we are on this problem)
We need to become examples that show by word and deed of what a real man is known for and not leave them to the malicious demagogues that yell, scream and hurl names and insist we look at the world through a jaded lens.
Raising men is not all about K-12, SAT scores, and college prep. Although those things are important there’s an awful lot more to be learned about being a man. A real man does not simply provide for his children (again extremely important) but goes further by spending time teaching them (in word and deed) valuable lessons on financial responsibility, keeping one’s word, facing up to and solving problems, being committed to finishing a project, being considerate, and standing up for the weak. This is what it means to be a REAL man. These boys who join groups like ISIS do the opposite by shirking their responsibilities, lying and stealing money from their parents, and running away from facing the real world. Groups like ISIS are stealing our young men and robbing them of their future.
We need to re-commit to right the ship of our marriages, families and our communities. If we do this, our communities will be strong and our families will be strong. If we can do this then we will raise children that will see the false message of groups like ISIS (or whoever comes after it) and dismiss it out of hand.
This “man up” challenge extends to each of us to become inspired to do what is needed to own up to OUR OWN responsibility to shape the future by doing a better job of what God put us on this Earth to do: Be good Fathers and lead our wives and children to heaven.
- Start a mentoring program for boys above the age of 12. This is a good example that should be repeated across the land
- Suggested reading for men and young men to read together: ‘Millionaire Manners’ (visit the website here)