In my head are many facts That, as a student, I have studied to procure
In my head are many facts
Of which I wish I was more certain, I was sure
Is a puzzlement ….
Is a danger to be trusting one another. One will seldom want to do what other wishes
But unless someday somebody trust somebody
There’ll be nothing left on earth excepting fishes. … ( The King and I – Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II – Music By Richard Rogers.
Human behavior ??? What a puzzlement to be sure. I’ve read articles this week about human interactions and concepts that seem incomprehensible. What the hell is Incel? I mean, I’m gay so I’ve never been hung up about not engaging in physical sex or intimate relationships with women. I certainly have anguished over not being able to go home with a man for hours of erotic sex when I was single. We didn’t have Grindr back then and seemingly many gay men’s physical and mental health are still suffering despite being able to hook up as much as they want to daily. (For the record) – Howie and I met online a little over 13 years ago and just celebrated our second year of marriage last week. Honestly, I’ve been plenty frustrated about a lot of things – sexually and otherwise – single and married. Yet, I don’t recall ever considering or carrying out a plan to kill people by running them down with a van.
Tragically, LGBTQ persons, women and men of color, women more generally and especially women who survive in domestically abusive living conditions are targets of misogynistic, mentally unstable men. Violent men frequently wound or kill their marginalized victims because such men are victims of violence themselves. They consequently become emotionally and behaviorally troubled men who feel sexually rejected, economically deprived, or otherwise disabled. Such men act out their rage by attacking, injuring, and killing people they hate.
The Manosphere is yet another universe of tumultuous concepts and communities I don’t know anything about nor understand;. There are mad men in these societal galaxies- and their rage is real and terrifyingly obvious. They don’t work out their anxiety by singing musicals or soliciting sex online. They drive their cars down streets, shoot fully automatic weapons in night clubs, theaters, and concerts. They apparently don’t give a shit about the carnage they cause in communities. We, as men more often than not and implicitly/explicitly, promote and prosecute war and violence as we have done through our (un)civilized time on this planet.
Naturalist Michael McCarthy recently said, “There is a legacy deep within us, a legacy of instinct, a legacy of inherited feelings, which may lie very deep in the tissues — it may lie underneath all the parts of civilization which we are so familiar with on a daily basis. ….” Our violent masculine instincts and fixations are destructively alive today in Jerusalem as they were about 2,000 years ago. The author of Matthew quotes Jesus of Nazareth as saying: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem! You who kill the prophets and stone those who were sent to you. How often I wanted to gather your people together, just as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. But you didn’t want that.” (Matthew 23:37 – Common English Bible) . He uttered these words as he was condemning Jerusalem’s temple and religious authorities. He laments the carnage they and imperial Roman political officials are causing. The more things change – the more they remain the same if not worsen. This week’s violence in Gaza, the West Bank, and Jerusalem is occurring because conservative American, Israeli, and Palestinian men prefer killing one another and exercising their rights in the manosphere of worldly affairs. Who suffers most? Palestinian children, that’s who.
The Episcopal church that I serve hosted a Spring and Fling event earlier this month. One of our children, who is happy and healthy – thank God, his family, and local community – shared his Jenga set. Jenga is essentially an architectural puzzle. Individuals or teams (de)/(re)construct wooden blocks. The goal is to not tear down the tower and lose the game. It’s a lot of fun! The stakes aren’t particularly high. Reasonable men (and women) can compete with one another without losing their tempers. Emotionally stable men (and women) won’t fight when they lose. They start another game or find another healthy hobby to enjoy.
Of course, figuring out how to (de)/(re)construct the manosphere and or associated murderous masculine intentions such as historical violence in Jerusalem is a much more difficult, adaptive challenge. The solution however, is similar in both instances. People. perhaps led by women instead of men, try to restore healthiness step by step. We ruminate over the problems by observing honestly what is going on. We experiment with options. We risk communicating our phobias and vulnerabilities. We hang on with people we trust whose intentions are positive rather than negative. We create physical/wholehearted purposeful communities where we incarnate – seen and heard. We don’t hang out for hours alone in the shadows of virtual “Reddit” or “Facebook” sites where evil adults often lurk and thrive.
I wish I could say that I’m optimistic. Today, I’m not. I speak with the image of Agent Smith influencing my words. Contemporary life seems more akin to The Matrix Reloaded rather than The King and I. Humanity often does appear to be a stinky, evil virus with no redeeming values whatsoever. Our systems seek only to normalize hatred. Our police do more to preserve the status quo rather than protect and care for human rights and children’s rights to live freely and joyfully, Indigenous and racially marginalized people and communities are caught and cast aside by our consumerism and disregard for shared environmental and human connections.
Perhaps, God please may it be so (Amen!) …may there be a Neo and King Mongkut out there for us. May Jesus of Nazareth’s sacrificial Gospel speak and be true. May you and I find some courage, some wholeheartedness, some faith to say no to thousands of years of masculine, reptilian instinctual bullshit. May we reject the manosphere of false truths, May we profess gracefully and prophetically to be followers of Christ who prefer joy and peace. Let’s build blocks in our local communities dedicated to eliminating the terror of religiously, politically, based terror playing itself out across our cities and planet. May we say yes to working as men with one another to create communities that Jesus, Buddha, Pope Francis, and other men seek to bring into being.