Samuel D. James has a very thoughtful article in First Things about the recent murder of 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas.  He was very perceptive when he wrote, “We have become a society filled with very young men who are ready and willing to throw away their lives and the lives of others…We are living in an age of literal “child-on-child murder.”

I have watched on TV and read articles of opinion makers, both left and right, being at a loss about what to do regarding mass shootings.   We are at an impasse on gun control.  James rightly notes, “An inability to talk about anything other than gun control threatens to deaden our lament and neutralize a vital conversation about why so many of our country’s most lost, most hateful people are boys with their whole lives ahead of them.”  

James makes a haunting observation when he points out, “Historically, mass killers were usually men who were old enough to have lived and abandoned a former life.  The current generation of shooters have had no life to abandon.  We cannot afford to stop asking why.”  

Most of these killers are just entering manhood.  They have been told they are “toxic,” with a masculinity needing to be deconstructed. They continue to lose traction in a culture focused more on helping young girls flourish.  They are loners, who can’t find traction in a culture that has called their very identity into question.  What does it mean to be a man?  These young men are not sure. 

As you might imagine, I have some passion about this subject; after all, this blog is called “The Wild Man Journey.”  Many readers have their own struggles coming to peace with their masculinity. Personally, I remember struggling mightily with my maleness in my 20’s.  Not until I was through school and had become a pastor did my soul grasp intuitively that I am a man.  Since then, I have been building on that foundation.  But I am still a work in progress.

Young men today desperately need help – not from politicians, social engineers, feminists, or even preachers.  Young men need older men coming alongside them, leading them into manhood.  As James wrote, “Many young men today are socially invisible…lacking the kind of thick attachments that make life worth living.”  How can we reach these lonely, young men?

First, be a strong advocate for the family unit, in which the father has an “exemplar” role to play.  I have said it many times in this blog, “a boy only has one father.”  If you have boys at home, take time to invest in their lives.

Second, the church needs to encourage male mentoring of young boys. It could be formal or informal.  But as a man who is trying to follow Jesus, make it your business to influence the boys and young men.  In my living space and at church, it is more informal.  But I am aware of making a difference, even if it’s only giving some attention to a young man.

Third, resist with all the grace that God gives to not become a “passive” male in America.  Male passivity leads to “absent fathers” and has contributed to a whole generation of “lost young men.”  Whatever your place in society, be proactive as an “engaged” male.

I resist all the talk about who is to blame for young men and mass murders.  I want to shout, “There is a “better way!”  That way is active, engaged men making a difference for the boys and young men around them.