Good Company

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Monday, February 13, 2023

Life Lessons

Glenn Reynolds hit on it The Power of Old Men:
That shouldn’t be a shock, given that old men teaching young men – especially about arms and such -- has been the norm for nearly all human societies before ours. And it’s not as if it doesn’t happen anymore, though you have to read the reporting of people like Salena Zito to hear much about it.

Grandfathers are harder to come by, nowadays, in a society where fathers are in short supply. And old men who want to teach young men are now viewed with more than a tinge of suspicion, something a cynic might say is not entirely based on a concern for the welfare of those young men. Boys, young or teenaged, are now mostly taught by women, and by “mostly,” I mean “overwhelmingly.”

But Patrick McManus got there first:

“Every kid should have an old man. I don’t mean just a father. Fathers are all right and I’m not knocking them, since I’m one myself, but from a kid’s point of view they spend entirely too much time at a thing called the office or some other equally boring place of work. If you’re a kid, what you need is someone who can take you out hunting or fishing or just poking around in the woods anytime you feel the urge. That’s an old man. Doing things like that is what old men were designed for.” -Patrick McManus “The Theory and Application of Old Men” A Fine and Pleasant Misery, 1981

Both McManus and Reynolds benefited from a far less urban and suburban world, where the young boys and old men could wander in woods, shoot guns safely, and learn life lessons from men who had been to war and killed other men. That killing was rarely discussed, and most the stories told were of the foibles of young officers and inexperienced youth having to grow up too fast. But the lessons in gun safety and when not to shoot or the reasons for "catch and release" were priceless.

Times have changed from when I could get on a bike in a small town in Nebraska and strap my .22 to my back and ride down to the town dump to shoot rats or pedal out to a farm and seek permission to hunt in the woods along the fields. No police officer ever interrupted my travels and it was before "Karens," so as long as I obeyed the safety rules taught by my father, everything was good.

It also was on fishing trips with my dad that I learned how his being a white officer in the 10th Cavalry - in which all the troopers and NCOs were African Americans - had taught him to hate prejudice in all forms. Are there better lessons for a father to teach his children?

So where are youth of today getting their "old man" guidance?

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