The killers involved in this and many other shootings haunt us. But lately there is some evidence of another pattern: a young man, good-natured and military-trained, who acts instantaneously in the moment of crisis to save the lives of others. This was the case with the Paris train affair a few weeks ago. This was the case again in Oregon. Those of us who bemoan the declension of the American man, historically a force for good in numerous ways, have found our hearts strangely warmed by ordinary heroes as we scan news reports of death and destruction.
I say “strangely warmed” because there is indeed much reason to shake your head at many modern men. As just one example from pop culture, I sometimes watch the television show “House Hunters” on HGTV. Almost invariably on this harmless show about would-be homebuyers, we encounter a man whose demands for the would-be home outpace his wife’s. As the realtor asks the couple what they want, the man spits out an extensive list of his desired accouterments, and they’re usually of the predictable sort. His wife stands uncomfortably beside him as he prattles on. The boy-man speaketh.
This common scene crystallized for me how many men today think about life: they think it’s about them. They believe that they should get what they want, and that everyone else can fend for themselves. The instinct to lead in their marriage by putting their wife’s interests before their own has gone missing. Chivalry, it seems, lies sprawled on the couch in the man cave, snoring loudly while a huge flat screen TV broadcasts endless replays of men playing the games of children.