We have spoken to your mother. We know everything.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

3:10 To Integrity

Shrinkwrapped's Of Boy's And Men is a kind of 'full circle' look at American culture and society and the influences that shaped how we have come to define ourselves.

Every culture has its own unique Rites of Passage. These Rites demarcate childhood from adulthood, separating boys from men and girls from women. As with most sexually differentiated behavior, male Rites of Passage tend to be more dramatic and well defined than the Rites of Passage for girls. Typically, the demarcation of boys and men invovles the full expression of male aggressivity, channeled into socially acceptable and necessary channels. Most male Rites of Passage invovle fighting enemies or a derivative. As we have managed our way to become more civilized, the murderous nature of male Rites has been tempered, so that often such Rites are only distant derivatives of such primitive aggression. Rites of Passgae also become the basis for the culture's evocation of heroism. For example, a society that honors the warrior as the greatest ideal to which a boy can aspire can be sure to contain Rites of Passage that glorify aggression.

This creates a problem for pacifist societies. Since the role of the Rite is to enable the boy to channel his aggression in socially acceptable ways, societies that eschew aggression in all spheres will often find themselves celebrating feminized men who lack the ability to express what in more simple times have been known as masculine traits.

Shrinkwrapped goes on to discuss the film, 3:10 to Yuma (with more than a bit of Jungian examination of the symbolism):

The American western is the genre that captures the quintessence of what it means to be an American. The American cowboy at his best has always represented an updated version of Medieval chivalry. The lone Knight/cowboy dispenses rough but fair justice, protecting the weak and defenseless, especially the women and children who otherwise would be left to the mercy of the bad guys. This is an archetypal story and 3:10 to Yuma does a brilliant job, evoking nothing less than High Noon, perhaps the most compelling and emblematic of the kind. Yet the differences between the two movies could not be more telling...

The discussion is more than interesting. Shrinkwrapped looks at how we look at ourselves and why.

He opines on a Whitney Museum exhibition he attended the same weekend he saw the film, 3:10 to Yuma.

Mild embarrassment was my initial reaction. The exhibit documented a time and place that was ultimately unserious to the extreme. By that I mean that the counterculture was all about prolonging childhood rather than finding new and improved ways to be come adults. For a brief moment, it seemed that growing up had become optional, that the longstanding connection between cause and effect in human affairs had been severed. The free expression of our impulses without consequences was the hallmark of the times...

The 60s of the "Summer of Love" and the "Psychedelic Era" were many things, most of them profoundly trivial, but they were not a heroic time in which boys could learn to be men; they were a time when boys were encouraged to inhibit their aggression and continue to play. Too many who grew up in that time now act as if they need to continue behaving like rebels against a constricting universe in order to feel that their immaturity actually represents a deeper maturity. (How often do we hear from those who claim to "speak truth to power" how courageous they are, when in reality they risk nothing, since they are an integral part of the very establishment they claim to decry?)

The Beatles sang "Love is all you need" but the fatuity of that sentiment should be obvious in a world in which vile misogynistic, racist, anti-Semites would like nothing more than to kill those who "Love" so mindlessly.

Utopian grandiosity is an expectable affectation for adolescents. We expect it and might worry if our adolescents didn't dream of saving the world.

Shrinkwrapped's remarks seem to be deliberately opaque- and for good reason. He wants his readers to connect the dots and embrace the truth and reality that what we see on the screen, what we read in modern day literature and what we are spoon fed as 'relevant' news are the results of 1960's ideologies.

There is little in our culture today that promotes accountability and responsibility- just the opposite, in fact (See Mamacita, for a look at what happens when children are not held accountable and how that affects your kids).

When it's all said and done, 'love is not all you need.' Cultures, societies and nations are defined by the behavior and character of the individuals that make up those cultures and societies.

This nation was created by those for whom responsibility, accountability, honor and decency were more than just words that are entries in a dictionary. Those words were lived by and held in great esteem. The merits of those qualities were taught in schools and preached from both religious and secular pulpits. An individuals politics were always secondary to hard earned integrity and credibility. Our founding fathers may not have been perfect, to be sure, but this nation grew and matured as we learned the lessons and values they embraced.

There are those who might argue but in the end, there are no lines for Cuban, Chinese, Syrian or Palestinian visas. There are lines for visa at western embassies and consulates.

Maybe that's why leftist's worship relativism and why for them, political identity is paramount. It's a whole lot easier than defining, defending and embracing decency and the moral values that define freedom and serve as the foundations for civilized societies.

Read Shrinkwrapped's Of Boy's And Men for a lesson in why responsibility really does matter.