Articles

I Know Whose Fault It Is

August 23, 2016 by

This world is in an awful mess. We’re told day after day in the media that people have never been more discouraged, more angry, more desperate than they are now. And I know whose fault it is.

I’m going to say something that will probably make a lot of people mad. But it’s something I believe, and something I’m more and more convinced about with each passing year: If you look at all the social ills plaguing us now, from disintegration of the family unit with widespread divorce and unfaithfulness to the aimlessness of youth and increase in suicide, to the millions of abortions performed worldwide each year, to the acceptance of euthanasia, to the degradation of sex in the entertainment industry and the accompanying total loss of reverence, to the cult-like obsession with technology, games, and the internet, to rampant poverty and injustice, to violence in the streets – all this and much more can be traced back to the simple fact that men are no longer true men.

Angry yet? I hope so, especially if you are a man. I’m not going to quote all the Bible passages that commission men to lead, because they are endless. The Bible begins with the creation of man, and then woman as his helper. A man is meant to lead in the truest sense – not to lord it over his wife and family and others, but to be a living example of what we all want to see in this world: self-sacrifice, repentance, unconditional love, humility, vision, and inspiration. Clearly, we men are failing miserably, and the world is suffering because of it.

First, we men need to understand, and lead others to understand, one of the great paradoxes of life: that true joy and happiness come not from the “pursuit of happiness” but by forgetting about one’s own happiness altogether. It is selfless love and service to others that leads to the joy and peace we all desire, not insisting on our rights, filling our lives with thrills and material things, or pursuing our maximum pleasure.

I remember struggling with this truth years ago, seeing so many unhappy people around me and feeling very unhappy myself. In my work I visited a day care that was one big room full of children. Some of the staff looked harried, but along the edges of the play area were several old women who had simply volunteered their time to be “grandmas;” to take crying children in their laps to comfort them, read them stories, or resolve their little worries and conflicts. It struck me that the faces of these old women were the happiest faces I had ever seen; they were aglow with the radiance of self-forgetful love, of joy in simply being there for others. I return to the memory of these women often to remind myself what life is all about, of the essence of my task as a man, a husband, a father of three young children, and a member of my church.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” says the famous Proverb. If we men were to truly take up our God-given task to lead, in the fear of the Lord, then I submit that we and our wives wouldn’t cheat, women wouldn’t want or need to destroy their unborn, our children wouldn’t despise us and rebel against us, and there’d be no single mothers. If we were true men, our teenagers would know the satisfaction of hard work, joy in deeds of love, and peace that comes from self-denial for the love of God. If we were true men, we would heed the voice of conscience, we’d repent in tears and exult in forgiveness, we would inspire others with a vision of things to come, of work to be done toward that great day of God, when death itself will be destroyed and all tears wiped away.

All of this means taking risks in the name of love, sometimes great ones. It means going against the stream, against all conventional wisdom, to do what is right. When I think of the men who have inspired me to pursue true manhood, they were usually men who were misunderstood, who took the “old-fashioned” way, who insisted on the fear of the Lord before all other fears, who were merciless on themselves but merciful to others, who would do anything to right a wrong, who put other people first, who concerned themselves with the good of all and not just the good of their own families, who left behind deeds of love that can never die.

A Bruderhof father working outdoors in the garden with two children

I think of men like Father George Zabelka, the army chaplain who blessed the atomic bombing missions to Japan on Tinian Island, but later deeply repented for his part, and sought and received forgiveness from the Hibakusha (Japanese survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki). I think of Martin Luther King, Jr., who began to speak out sharply against the injustice of the Vietnam War, despite the advice of colleagues who told him it was none of his business as a Civil Rights leader. I think of Maximilian Kolbe, the Catholic priest who gave his own life in the place of a young father slated for the starvation bunker in Auschwitz. I think of the cabal of physicists in the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics, who conspired to conceal the possibility of developing an atomic bomb from Hitler, knowing death would follow discovery of their plot, in order to save the world from nuclear madness. I think of great orators like Frederick Douglass and military men like Smedley Butler who weren’t afraid to speak truth to power.

But I also think of many unknown and un-thanked ones. I especially think of my own dear grandfather, an unrecognized master craftsman, who nevertheless worked himself to the bone and remained faithful to a wife with lifelong mental illness. At crucial moments, and in crucial times, none of these men really cared what anyone else thought of them. They simply did what was right; they followed the urge of love.

So I’ll leave all of us men with a challenge expressed in one of my favorite hymns, partly inspired by the words from 1 Timothy 6: “But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.”

Rise up, O men of God!
Have done with lesser things;
Give heart and soul and mind and strength
To serve the King of Kings.
Rise up, O men of God!
His kingdom tarries long;
Bring in the day of brotherhood,
And end the night of wrong.
Lift high the cross of Christ!
Tread where his feet have trod;
As brothers of the Son of Man
Rise up, O men of God!

Dan Hallock is the author of Six Months to Live. He lives at the Beech Grove Bruderhof in England with his wife Emily and their three children.

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  • This was life changing for me and I hope for others! I want to be passionate about serving my God in the way that He would have me serve.

    Bonny Horton
  • Dear Dan - don't worry about upsetting people - keep on being a leader, hone your conscience to hear the Spirit's quiet voice, and, please, carry on being and example! Thank you.

    kim simpson
  • Dear Dan; You can not draw the picture of happiness but you explained us the real happiness ; the peace in our hearts. If we believe in God, we do not complain the things in our life. It is not diffucult or hard to find the real peace. We know that the God has everything in his hands and he has plan for us. We need to love each other and learn to live together in peace.

    Metin Erdem
  • Thank you for reminding me to be outward looking, not inward.Truly love my friends at Beech Grove..

    Lydia Lewis