Sunday, October 30, 2011

Bill Bennett- The Book of Man- Readings on the Path to Manhood (Thomas Nelson Books)

The introduction of talk show host/commentator/former Secretary of Education Bill Bennett’s new book The Book of Man is as thought provoking a handful of pages as I have read lately. In it he makes the case that the state of manhood in America has gone through a dramatic and altogether not good transition over the course of the past couple of decades.

While it is not Bennett’s premise, I think the case can be made that we can trace the current malaise we find ourselves mired in, to the pussification of the American male. We have steadily erased some of the cornerstones of what made men, men. And Bennett’s book wants to put in place a framework, through the written word, to put manhood back into its rightful place, by changing the way we teach the next generation of males.

Think about it. We have erased from our society some of the most basic tenets of manhood. We whimpify boys by not allowing them to keep score in youth sports; going a step further when we actually allow scoring in scholastic sports, teams who win a lopsided victory are chastised for “running up the score.”

We have raised a generation of men not to seek knowledge and pursue critical thinking skills, but to merely get good grades. I recently took part in a discussion with a college professor who studies generational differences who spoke of the disturbing trend where college students are likely to have a parent call a professor about a bad grade or even go so far as to bring along a parent on job interviews!

We have taught a generation of men that they are inconsequential to the family unit; that women are strong and don’t really need them around. Is it any wonder that we have tragic divorce rates, scores of children being born and raised out of wedlock and where in the 1950s 96 percent of males between the ages of 25-54 worked; today that number stands at around 80 percent. Yes, a full 20 percent, one fifth of men do not get up and go to work each day!

Where once men took care of families, the government now plays the role of provider. No I am not a chauvinist, women are certainly a vital part of the work force and the family, but how can you read these numbers and not see that we have created an unsustainable and growing problem of dependency.

The Book Of Man is not a prescription to fix this problem, but gathers the writings of great thinkers on a variety of topics including; Man at Work, Man at Play, and Man with Women and Children, which can at the very least envision a different sort of path to manhood than we currently find ourselves on.

I can’t help but wonder if instead of government handouts if we might see a greater benefit in handing out copies of Mr. Bennett’s book. I also have to wonder if the maggot-infested flock of Wall Street Occupiers might benefit from a copy of the Book of Man…maybe we could enlist someone to read it to them, or better yet, we could set up a large PA system and blast them with the audio book version 24/7.

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