THE BEST DEFENSE IS A GOOD OFFENSE: The Wrong Way and the Right Way to Solve a Crisis

I know what some of you may be thinking after reading the previous post.  “Sure.  We’re all for the Remanning of America.  But it’s too big a problem.  It’s gotten out of hand.  What can I possibly do?”  I hate to resort to the worn-out adage “If you’re not a part of the solution, you are a part of the problem” so early in the game.  But that is the truth.  You see, there are two major ways of dealing with fundamental moral crises in today’s world.  One is to analyze all the aspects of the crisis using the latest studies and opinion polls and piling up volumes of social commentary.  Of course, before you can do any of this you have to secure “funding” through some foundation dedicated to the study of Problem X.  Over the course of your studies you must give umpteen conference papers to see what other specialists in the field are coming up with in their research.  Finally, just as your funding is about to run out, you publish your study: with charts and statistics and about a million footnotes.  You sell 500 copies of that study.  But if you have established yourself as enough of an expert on the subject, you may be appointed to a “blue-ribbon” commission whose purpose is to come up with “programs” to combat the problem.  In other words, you plan to feed at the trough of government spending.  At no point have you enlisted the common sense and energy of the American people, probably because you see Problem X as too esoteric for their intelligence.  This approach is the one taken by career academics and sociologists and bureaucrats who either already are, or want to be. part of the giant federal system that funds everything and accomplishes little.  On the contrary, the federal Hydra often becomes the chief monster behind the crisis.

Behind this approach to solving a major problem is the belief—the fear—on the part of often well-meaning people that the problem is so big, so unmanageable, so complex that ONLY the federal government can solve it.  Ordinary people, we are told by experts, are simply too incompetent, too ignorant, too helpless, and too lacking in expertise to do anything on our own, much less deal with a giant crisis.  And so every major intrusion of government into our lives begins with . . . fear itself.

There is a second route, far less traveled in today’s world, to solving a major crisis.  That is simply for WE THE PEOPLE to realize what has gone wrong, to figure out how to fix it, and to stand up and act.  In fact, this is the route that ought to be taken in every major crisis this nation faces, whether it be in education, the breakdown of the family, the out-of-control spending in Washington and a good many of the state capitals, the growth of teen pregnancy, the alarming absence of Constitutional literacy among our politicians and citizens and on and on.  Name the crisis; only WE THE PEOPLE are the ones able to solve it.

It is my belief that the solving the Man Problem is not terribly more difficult than winning in a team sport.  We first have to know what the opposing teams are up to: who their good players are and what plays they run.  Then we have to pick our guys, assign them their positions, develop our own playbook, and then practice, practice, practice.  After all that work—and it is work—it’s just a matter of not choking in the Big Game.  This is the approach of champions.  Would the great football teams of the past, be they the Packers or the Colts or the Cowboys or the Bears or the Steelers, have watched the films of the opposing teams, said to themselves, “Wow, these guys are good.  We can’t handle them on our own.  We need to do a longitudinal study.  And maybe we can get a federal program to help us out.  We’ll probably get a bigger share of the funding if they pick Coach Landry to serve on a blue-ribbon commission”?  Of course not.  This is not the way of champions.  Champions do their homework, to be sure.  They know the other teams’ plays as well as they do their own.  Deep down, though, the animus that motivates them, that brings them victory, is the question, “When do we get to hit these guys?”

In our case, we have to know first what goes into the making of wimps and barbarians.  Wimps and barbarians do not simply appear out of nowhere.  They are made: by parents, by teachers, by others in positions of responsibility—all following bad ideas about what men are and ought to be.  In one sense, our task is easy.  We just need to expose the bad ideas and do the opposite.  In so doing, we shall recover (if we do our homework) the lost ideas about manhood that served as the foundation of centuries of civilization.  That is the easy part.  The hard part comes when we find out that there are many, many people out there in our times who have a stake in the culture of declining manhood, in the industry of making wimps and barbarians.  “No way!  Who could be for a diminished manhood?” you object.  Just you wait.

There is a second hard part to the remanning of America.  You will have to speak up, to act, to bring sometimes a little friction into this seemingly polite, anything-goes world.  Do not expect an absence of backlash if you mean to bring up your boys in a traditional way, or if you expect the men you date to behave like gentlemen, or if in a school setting you try to treat boys like boys rather than like girls.  You will be branded as one of those, those unprogressive, retrograde, narrow-minded troglodytes who’ve not kept up with the times.  And yet the irony of the situation is that you will be on the cutting edge of cultural reform.  These days, to be retrograde is to be revolutionary.

So let’s get started by picking teams.  In addition, let’s offer a hint or two about what position each person on the team will be playing, what position you will be playing.  Stay tuned for subsequent posts . . .