Sunday, March 13, 2005

Four guys, three generations

My oldest son, Jeff, phoned home a little bit ago to say he had arrived safely in Lincoln, and was now hanging out with his Gramps, aka my dad Howie, his uncle Roger, and his cousin Brian. They are having Harp Ale, Roger's homebrew in honor of Brian's birthday, lots of cheese, and crackers, and probably a major storytelling/bullshitting festival. Perhaps the opportunity will arise for Jeff's two brother's and his younger cousin, Sky to join in a future family stag event. I hope Howie will tell stories about his own dad and brother.

The possibilities are interesting. Our culture lacks male tribal ceremonies. The generations of men do not retreat into the dark recesses to channel the group consciousness and oral history ala Clan of the Cave Bear. Admittedly, I am viewing this event from a female perspective. There seems to be a void instead of a significant ritual or extended dialogue for imparting from one generation to the next what it means to be a truly adult man. Most male "rites of passage" are conducted by peers and involve heavy drinking, hazing, acts of violence or bravado, and dangerous stunts mixing cars and high speed. The television male character is usually a buffoon, an under-achiever, the butt of family jokes, or a strutting rooster showing off his cars, women, and plasma t.v.s for his entourage before his next end-zone dance.

Somewhere in the last half century, the interpretation of the word "respectability" tilted heavily toward the qualities of being conventional, ordinary, boring, and having a recent haircut. What about being able to be respected, being worthy of respect, to merit the esteem, appreciation, and honor of others due to one's manner of conducting life, work, business, and relationships?

These issues apply to both genders. My core feeling is that both my parents made their decisions with consideration of future generations of life on Earth. They made choices and acted so as to be worthy of the respect of previous and future generations. That did not make them slaves to the regard of others or to the conventions of the moment. It made them honorable mature adults with clear moral compasses and a long-range perspective on actions and consequences.

May my sons be as worthy of esteem.

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