We Don’t Really Care Why

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Em Carpenter

Em was one of those argumentative children who was sarcastically encouraged to become a lawyer, so she did. She is a proud life-long West Virginian, and, paradoxically, a liberal. In addition to writing about society, politics and culture, she enjoys cooking, podcasts, reading, and pretending to be a runner. She will correct your grammar. You can find her on Twitter.

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11 Responses

  1. Avatar Doctor Jay says:

    Last Sunday, I went to an Eagle Scout Court of Honor awarding the rank to a young man, now 18, who was on a very bad path in his life at age 13. His parents, and several other adults have invested considerable time and pain into pushing him on to a better path, and it seems to have worked. He talks about his former attitudes with a sort of brutal frankness that’s refreshing and gives me hope.

    There were 6 other young men on that stage, too. It was a very pleasing contrast to the events of the weekend. Particularly the young man in El Paso, whom, it seems, wanted to do something to “help’ his group by repelling the “invasion” of Other People which was harming his group.

    In contrast, every young man on the stage had done a service project of considerable substance. My particular charge had built a bunch of bookcases for a local middle school. His prototype had the principal of that school, ahem, squee in delight, “I want that in my office. How many of these are you gonna make? TEN!!!? I WANT them!”

    I’m sure this was a very new experience for him, and a profoundly beneficial one. All these young men were shown a way to have an impact in a way that was welcomed and praised by the community.

    Working with young men of this age can be difficult, frustrating and slow. It’s worth it. I feel we need to spend more time as a culture figuring out how to pull them into activities that enrich them. This is work for older men, but it’s not completely gendered. I know women who have been effective with this age group as well, though it’s a challenge.

    I want to note that I say this as an invitation, not as an imperative. We need more, we don’t necessarily need everyone. I’m also not saying that it needs to be through the Boy Scouts of America, either. There are lots of platforms for engagement, and maybe you will have one that’s personal to you.

    I’m saying that you should maybe resist the impulse to count. Sometimes just changing one life is more than enough.Report

    • Avatar wvesquiress in reply to Doctor Jay says:

      I don’t mean to brag or anything, but I am the treasurer and assistant den leader for cub scout pack 146.
      I’m also raising two young men, and try very hard to keep them involved activities and impress upon them that they are valued by and important to the wider community. It’s more difficult with my older son, who is really not a joiner. But we try. I think this is the most important thing we can do, preventatively.
      Thank you for reading.Report

      • Avatar Doctor Jay in reply to wvesquiress says:

        I think I already knew most of this, actually. I have been out of scouting for a long time. My engagement was via martial arts, and via being a friend of the family.

        It was good though, to remember all those wonderful experiences that I had. Now all the, ahem, moral platitudes that were dished around seem to make more sense.

        There are many paths. I don’t know the boy, or your situation, so let me make a wild suggestion based on almost nothing. What if you told him he didn’t have to join anything per se, but he had to do something, some project, that helped the community in some specific, visible way. Perhaps you might insist that he had to talk to one or two other adults in order to do it. Work with his inclinations, rather than against them.

        I have a streak of social anxiety in those days – though I had enormous support for growth in that area from my extended family, who were mostly very outgoing. But I got my alone time, too.

        Like I said, this is just a crazy suggestion based on almost nothing. Feel free to ignore it if it doesn’t fit.Report

  2. Avatar Damon says:

    No one wants to talk about how to stop the killing in the inner cities either…and no one “cares” to try and stop it since it happens to “those people”…..similar to what you describe above.

    No one wants to talk about how the US’s foreign policy actions effect mass migration from South America and Africa/Middle East to North America / Europe.

    I could go on….Report

  3. Avatar George Turner says:

    They both went bad for their own reasons, which are shared by far too many kids, and they’ll be scrutinized under a microscope in ways that Boeing’s management won’t, even if that management deserves such scrutiny to a far greater degree. As the great Sarah Conner said, “Nobody is safe. Nobody is ever safe.” We spend our lives trying to avoid the horror of that truth.

    Some fixes are easy, and some are almost impossible, and sometimes exploiting tragedies leads to worse tragedies. I’m reminded of a story about the first Soviet party congress, when a member stood up and asked “And what does the Socialist state tell the father of a little girl who’s been run over and killed by a wagon?” There was a pause, and then someone rapturously shouted “In the Soviet State, there will be no wagon accidents!” Everyone cheered. Yet horrible tragedy has stubbornly defied a total solution. But there are worse things than tragedy, such as tragedy that’s so enormous it has to be reduced to statistics.

    Earlier last week a mother, her sister, and her daughter were gathered on a California beach to joyously celebrate the sister’s recovery from breast cancer. Then a freak rock slide crushed them all, and we were reminded that the universe is cruel and often senseless. We so wish that weren’t the case, but still we find a way to soldier on and persevere. If we did otherwise we’d still be huddling in caves, afraid to take our chances in such a chaotic world.

    So we mourn, we grieve, and we worry, and yet we find a way to do more than that, because there’s also faith and hope.Report

  4. Avatar dragonfrog says:

    Some of you heard that the evil man in Texas was a white supremacist declaring a one man war on Democrats and illegal immigrants and you clucked your tongues and were secretly thrilled that you could point at your political opposites and say “see? He’s one of yours.” Vindication of your fervent desire to hate righteously.

    Do you sincerely believe this? That there are people who comment right here on this site, whose reaction to a mass murder was delight that the murderer liked the political party they don’t? And you’re still here writing for this audience?

    I don’t believe that, myself – and if I did, I wouldn’t come back to OT.Report

  5. Avatar atomickristin says:

    Wonderful. Thanks for sharing it with us.Report

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