06 August 2008

The Southern White Male Empire Building

(An aside to my post that I wrote last week; I started this blog post on Thurs of last week. It has taken me four days to get back to it and finish it)

I heard Collin Cowherd say something yesterday that made me stop what I was doing, laugh out loud, call my wife Jill and inspired me to blog about it. It's not often that someone's comment will get me to blog about it, let alone what I feel was kind of a 'throw-away' line of comments by 'Herd. He didn't open the segment with the take, it was in the middle of a long line of conversation on the topic de jour (well, topic of the week, no...month) Brett Farve.

Collin astutely observed when speaking about the way some guys view everything, (rough plagiarism from memory, and not direct quote, as I couldn't find the segment online) "guys in the south feel they have to empire build. Build walls, prop-up and defend everything in their lives". He went on to note, "I don't run into this guy in L.A.. You won't find this guy in New York, where there's just so much more to life than what white southern guy knows".

Oh. How. True. I've been calling this guy, "SEC* guy" for a number of years now (*SEC is the Southeast Conference in college football). Stereotypes are fun, because you can always find enough people to live into them for you (and you don't get in trouble for using them unless you apply them across racial lines). And boy, have I encountered these guys.

In general, you just have these guys that build up little things in their lives that they live so vicariously through, that they become giant sources of identity and ritual (create idols, much?)

Southern myopic white guy will bang relentlessly on SEC football, SEC tradition, SEC tailgating, SEC coaches, Southern ______. SEC football, the stadiums, the experiences are legendary in part because of this, but I want to focus on what Collin was getting at.

Having been to 31 countries and lived in four different states (with family across three others), I guess I just have a different perspective on it all. I share some of the same passions, and perhaps ideals as SEC guy, but I just view the world through a much larger lens. Sure it sounds arrogant to presuppose this...but it's true. College football worship or whatever other vice is seasonally inserted into the life of southern white guy, is truly a marginal or secondary passion in the rest of the country (to say nothing of the rest of the world). So, while your stadium might have registered on the Richter scale, (seriously, so cool to me! The main reason I wanted to see a game at LSU well before I married Jill) that stadium is only the center of your small little world.

There's more to do in the rest of the country (especially on the West Coast).

There are far more competing interests for the entertainment dollar and passion (people want to talk about making movies in L.A., companies in Silicon Valley, hedge funds in NYC, baseball in Boston and meth in Fresno).

This is not to say that the whole premise is even right; SEC football is the best in the country right now. And the PAC-10 is by far the most dominate athletic conference in the country. The best programs in the country all recruit heaviest in CA and TX outside of Florida. So what? So football is strong and loved in the South. Great. If my Aunt had a pair, she'd be my uncle. Is that all that goes on down there, SEC guy? I ask, because it doesn't look like a whole lot of studying is going on there. The PAC-10 has had 137 Nobel laureates to the SEC's 9. Don't even get me started on the salaries and accomplishments of alumni out of the two regions. Now, it doesn't take a degree from UCLA to understand that that's lopsided. Jeesh, crack a book once in awhile. Try to break attendance records for class instead of games for once. Put a tutor in your Fav-5 instead of just your 35 year-old tailgating buddies. Find a resume builder instead of a college football message board.

It's just plain weird to love something more than the teenage boys do, that you place in a position of idol every fall & spring. And if you don't think SEC guy loves his team/conference MORE than the actual players and coaches out there, well, you just haven't been around enough athletes. SEC guy loves it more & derives more identity from the sports than do the athletes.

I mean, that's not to say that Les Miles doesn't have himself painted on a trailer, but Les Miles doesn't have himself painted on a trailer.

It's just myopic empire building, like Collin pointed-out. You don't find this guy out West and you definitely don't find this guy in someone who's got their identity and priorities rooted in the right place.

Oh, and FIGHT ON USC! ;)

04 August 2008

The premise of the book I'm going to write

So, I've had this huge desire to write and tell stories for the better part of 5 years now. And embarrassingly so, I've yet to act on it. Sure, it hasn't been one of my primary focuses in life--but that's part of what brings me the embarrassment--I haven't made it a primary focus.

There was a window when I returned from Iraq that it would have been most relevant to tell the story of Baghdad 2004. Of course, the story I wanted to--and intended to--tell, was one of the 'romance' of the whole battle. The epic adventure that it was for me and my own band of brothers. So, perhaps the window of relevance for that story isn't closed, but it's not what I feel I need to write about now.

I need to write about being a man. I feel the lack of real men is an epidemic in our culture.

I feel it it is at the root of so many parts of our culture that are in decay.

I feel it is at the root of crime and incarceration statistics in the black community (yes, I'm going to write about it even though the race-mongers in our country won't let you talk about race unless you're black and your name ends in ___arpton or ___ckson)

I feel the lack of real men in our culture is an epidemic that is damaging a generation of women

I feel encouraged by the men in MY LIFE that embody the ideal to me.

Over the years I've come to see some character traits that are generally accepted as "manly" as stupid, machismo and ignorant. Over the years, I've also seen some of the cultural pressures on men to be poisonous lies and feminist propaganda.

I've also come to believe that young men today have such a false sense of identity because in large part they grew up as the first generation in this country that was absolutely at the center of the universe in terms of how their parents approached parenting.

I also feel that we raise emotionally constipated men that are unfit for raising other boys, let alone raising and loving little girls.

Men should cry. They should cry for joy, they should cry out of anger if they share the heart of God. They should cry when the weight and magnitude of their parents or spouses or God's love HITS THEM for the first time. It's cool. It's necessary and empowering to have a good man-cry.

Men should instinctively react to protect, defend and fight for what is RIGHT. I feel women are far more gifted at caring for the hungry, homeless and orphaned; I want to DEFEND THEM.

Men should find their identity in the right place. In their creator God, and His purposes for their lives. If they don't they will chase woman after woman in search of that identity and validation. Or, once married, they will still chase women, either through the fantasy of porn (53% of men use porn, even more have at one point been addicted) or through emotional and physical affair. Men, seeking their identity in the wrong place will chase the next job, the next promotion, the face-time with the boss and winning the quarterly 'xyz' as if it that promotion, raise and VP title were the ones at home every night, just wanting to be loved, hugged, admired and spent time with.

A real man figures out how to make it all work, and has the perspective on life to know that "it all" working means taking some rest, enjoying a laid back dinner of drinks and a meal with great friends, Bible study alone in the morning, a nap on Saturday afternoon with the wife. A real man can find balance in life through perspective, before finding perspective on life through things being out of balance.

Guys, we've got to instinctively know how to love, live, fight, defend, make peace, teach, lead and follow. The book I'm going to write is my belief in a road-map and framework to do so.

I need all the encouragement and accountability possible. After all, I'm three years behind on my first book.