Men's Rites of Passage, Scotland, July 2014


Some other things I'm giving up for Lent

Enough, already.

Perhaps I spend too much time on social media, where I am constantly bombarded with worthy campaigns, some of which I agree with, but many of which just irritate me, like charity muggers on the high street or persistent phone calls from the 'Microsoft Technical Department.' I signed up for a good cause a while back and now the good cause wolves are nipping at my ankles and baying constantly. There is no peace.

Perhaps I'm just getting old (this is definitely part of it), but I don't think that getting old in itself is a problem. We oldies are all supposed to be down with the kidz because the kidz are the future, and somehow they have persuaded us that we have to apologize for pretty much everything. In that case, God help us. Many of the kidz who have access to social media are just as selfish, vain, venal, ignorant,  immoral and bereft of imagination as the older generation that they presume to criticize. Some of them even have a rhyming dictionary and think that this makes them prophets. And yoof can shoot video on their cellphones and whack it onto Facebook in an instant. Wow! Instant democracy, right? Wrong. Just noise.

Perhaps I'm getting tired of being blamed by a whole generation for being responsible for a whole lot of  shit (financial, environmental, social, ethical)  that was - guess what? - also done to me by powerful elites, none of whom I elected, none of whom know me and and none of whom I support. The overwhelming majority of men like me have no power, no access and no influence.

Perhaps I'm trying so hard to get it right that I find it easier now to stay silent. I'm becoming part of the silent majority simply because if I open my mouth, somebody will take offence. So I don't speak my mind any more, because young, loud people are in the thick of the 'debate', and ooh er...they've got cellphones and video and rhyming dictionaries and can mobilise a campaign in minutes. Take care! The new orthodoxy is alive and kicking and has its own suited and booted police force.

Perhaps I'm just not really that interested in the gay marriage debate. There, I said it. I have no objection to it, but y'know, only a tiny number of people are ever going to be affected by it in the West. Human rights in third world countries with stone-age dictators? Fine, I'm there, gun in hand, shoulder to shoulder with my gay brothers and sisters. But trying to bring down ancient churches, to whip them into line for your cause?  Move on, for God's sake.  Let the old die. Build the new - it's a lot easier than you think.

Perhaps I'm tired of taking the rap for being male. Most of the bad stuff that happens in the world is caused by people who have testicles, I can agree with that. Not all, but most. But y'know what? Those people are also my enemies. They are the ones who start the wars that might cause my son to be conscripted (not your daughter, I hasten to add). So when you say that men are the problem, guess what you're doing? - sound of a large gong - yes, well done, you're being sexist. Can you imagine? You?  Sexist? Unthinkable, innit?

So here are a few more things I'm giving up for Lent:

  • Having sympathy for the poor younger generation. Grow up and sort out yourself. Fight your own battles. Learn.  It's hard out there, and the sooner you get into training, the sooner you'll become capable. If you're stuck on something that you really can't solve yourself, I'll happily help. If it's some shit that you're too lazy to learn, then learn to live with the consequences, because you're the only person who can make it change.
  • Apologizing for being a middle-aged, white, middle-class male, who happens to have life skills that you don't. I'm older, get over it. It's not a virtue, I've just been around longer. Feel free to ask if there's anything you don't understand.
  • Following your campaign. I might just not agree with it. And you should face the possibility that a) you might be wrong, or b) no-one might care, including me.  (Get used to people not listening, by the way. There's a lot of that around.)
  • Agreeing with you.
  • Apologizing for not agreeing with you.

Make Lent a good season for yourself.