The Islands of Men by Daniel B. Rundquist
SPECIAL TO THE CALDWELL JOURNAL (By Daniel B. Rundquist) — “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore, never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”
English metaphysical poet John Donne (1572-1631) in Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions and Seuerall Steps in my Sickness – Meditation XVII, 1624
In the past ten years or so I have noticed a pattern that grown men seem to becoming more and more isolated. I have had many men from different places in life to pull me aside at one time or another to pour out their frustration and sorrow. I don’t know why, really; perhaps I’m perceived as a good listener. The one thing they all have had in common is a separation on more than one level in their lives. They have become islands surrounded by deep waters.
These men are hardly alone in their isolation. It must be near epidemic. A group called Essentially Men based in New Zealand offers help courses for men who might be dealing with a variety of now common issues, and I am certain that they are not the only group doing so. They address:
- Isolation and competitiveness.
- Loneliness and lack of friendship with other men.
- Numbness to your own feelings and difficulty in developing intimacy.
- Emotional over-dependence on women.
- Lack of positive masculine identity.
- An un-nameable sense of loss due to the absence of fathering.
- Cycles of control, depression, frustration and inappropriate expressions of anger.
- Challenges in relationship and family life.
- Questions of who am I and where am I going with my life? – especially in relation to midlife transitions.1
Why would there be a need for such a course? Because it is evident that we are becoming disconnected as much from ourselves and others as we are from the culture which is increasingly problematic for American families. These are men who are age 35 to 60 who are often in careers and have families of their own. In this environment they have to be cognizant of how they are raising their families as well as maintaining several types of different relationships. Unfortunately, few of any of these relationships seem to be truly connecting with men because the national culture of victimhood and political correctness has prevented most relationships from being anything but politely superficial today. Men are continually isolated in this culture and not just because of the press of modern feminism.
In the United States and elsewhere we are creating islands of men, and the results of that are devastating the nation in a quiet way. Look at the suicide rate. Today men die by suicide 3.53x more often than women. White males accounted for 7 of 10 suicides in 2016. The rate of suicide is highest in middle age, white men in particular.2
Why is this happening? I don’t have scientific evidence for you, but I do have a hunch, and my hunches are often right. First, we have to examine why would men become isolated in their community. Men certainly have plenty of things to keep them occupied, right? Time with their families and their children, their jobs and their places of worship and so on. What is happening here and how is this even possible that men could be so desperately isolated in in such a crowded and busy social environment? Let’s examine this one piece at a time as there seem to be several foundational factors.
An article in TIME online notes that, “According to data from the General Social Survey (GSS), the number of Americans who say they have no close friends has roughly tripled in recent decades. ‘Zero’ is also the most common response when people are asked how many confidants they have, the GSS data show. And adult men seem to be especially bad at keeping and cultivating friendships.”3 It has been noted anecdotally that the first miracle of Jesus Christ might not have been turning the water into wine at the wedding at Cana but rather reaching the age of thirty and still having twelve close friends. As technology increasingly replaces personal interactions at an alarming rate, interpersonal contact and skillsets are being lost. It’s not that friendships are being lost, it’s that new friendships are no longer being made to begin with. You could have 400 Facebook friends and not a single person to go eat lunch with.
Men lose not only the contact with others, but even lose the ability to interact when they do. This factor, of course is universal and not exclusive to men. In fact, because it’s universal makes matters worse when we consider the other gender. How anyone would find a sane person to date in 2018 is beyond my comprehension.
But for married Christian men with families the story may not improve. Christ Himself is also being replaced. The sad reality is that many men are pressured by culture into elevating their family over Christ in a sort of bizarre “family worship.” It’s often family first and always and nothing else. Today, the children may often be the default head of the household. The children can direct the parents. The children and their many activities activate the parents, which also means that they ultimately control the assets of the family, where and how the time and money are to be spent. This power wielded by children facilitates little more than bad behavior, poor decisions, and teaches the children a distorted sense of self-worth that will not be sustained by society once they reach adulthood. A man need not apply for fatherhood in these circumstances.
The fact that “family” is now so often replacing Christ and the parents in the home, this has resulted hurting more families and individuals that it has helped and is a core problem. (Alternately, a family focused on Christ is not focused on themselves.) The men find themselves subjected as a secondary or even tertiary part of this family relationship which leads directly to isolation—and men who are isolated are naturally unfulfilled and unhappy. For the man in the household it can be devastating, a personal disaster in slow motion.
We cannot and should not seek to redefine or eliminate the role of men in American society as is being done today. Masculinity, for example, has become so maligned that truly masculine men are often seen now as just plain odd. Society continues to feminize men by redefining what men are supposed to be about. Even men’s biology is being altered to accommodate this desire.4 One of the keys in doing so is reducing testosterone levels in men. Pushing new soy-based food products is a big step towards achieving that goal on a massive scale.5 With less testosterone floating around, men are no longer men, but instead only docile, feminized versions of what men once were. This seems to be what the Leftist society wants for men as a whole. American men are often expected to put aside the things that made men bold, independent, decisive and courageous thinkers, doers, and leaders from their family on up. This is not manhood, and it’s unnatural.
Instead society now pushes for the normalization of homosexuality and transgenderism—a group that comprises less than 2% of the American population. Misguided parents can start changing the genders of their own child as young as age eight with approval and encouragement from the medical community.6 Now we’re into attacking men from both ends—existing adults are marginalized and ignored while future men are encouraged to be eliminated.
Ultimately all the depreciation of the American man comes at the expense of the nation. it’s dangerous to try to emasculate men for some kind of twisted liberal ideology that doesn’t fit with the American culture or with Christianity, the basis of our founding principles—or perhaps that’s just the point of it all. The tin-foil-hat theory might be that all of this purposeful depreciation and isolation of men is being done to suit an anti-American agenda that has been in place and developed since the 1960’s, and there is strong evidence that this is a probability.
As a result of all these things, men can ultimately become mere spectators of their own lives, never to realize their own full potential in life. In such circumstances, they may become depressed and withdraw from the family, some will divorce as their marriage deteriorates, others will plunge themselves into their jobs, some will turn to addictive measures like alcohol or drugs. This entire discussion is eerily familiar to the subtext for the film, Fight Club, a 1999 film based on the 1996 novel of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk. The story is about an average man who engages with his alter-ego to energize disillusioned men and give them purpose in an otherwise bland existence. Is it a case of art imitating life or the other way around?
Combatting this masculine isolation with violence (as it was in Fight Club) is of course not a useful, productive, or practical solution. We need a means of addressing the issues at their core. Men’s groups such as “F3” focus on Christian fellowship for men. These are the fellows you might see jogging around your neighborhood, a parking lot, or parking deck at 6am several times a week. These guys understand the need for men in their proper roles in the American fabric and are reconnecting to each other and strengthening their faith in Christ.
Brother Night is another Christian men’s ministry that has recently sprung up in the Hickory area. It is a non-denominational ministry that meets once a month for Bible study, testimony and prayer.
There are other resources to be sure and we must discover and use them to actively restore the proper roles of men in America. The takeaway here is to be honest with ourselves about who men are supposed to be in today’s America. Men are becoming devalued and, in that devaluation, America loses.
Now before you ladies out there judge me as a sexist, go and ask your pastor, your priest, your boyfriend, husband, father, brother, or uncle if I am right. Further consider that America today needs strong and grounded Americans—both women and men. It is not a mutually exclusive thing where if one gender is “strong” the other must be made “weak.” Not here in America. That’s the false fixed-sum game argument of today’s leftists and it ought to be disregarded out of hand because it’s simply not true. America cannot afford to continue to allow its citizens, be they men or women, to be isolated and marginalized by a culture aiming to do just that.
1 www.essentiallymen.net/essentially-men-workshop/being-a-man/ accessed 8/19/2018
2 Suicide statistics afsp.org/about-suicide/suicide-statistics/ accessed 8/19/18
3 “You Asked: How Many Friends Do I Need?” By MARKHAM HEID March 18, 2015 TIME/ time.com/3748090/friends-social-health/
4Soy consumption by men today might one day be observed from the lens of history as dangerous for its effects on testosterone. It would not be the first time either: “In the 19th century women applied arsenic powder to whiten their faces as well as to their hair and scalp to destroy vermin. It was also thought that arsenic consumption by women gave ‘beauty and freshness’ to the skin, an appearance of pour rajeunisante…Arsenic continued to be used in cosmetics well into the early twentieth century and this was a common source of accidental poisoning.” From Arsenic – the “Poison of Kings” and the “Saviour of Syphilis” By John Frith In Original Research & Articles Issue Volume 21 No. 4 . jmvh.org/article/arsenic-the-poison-of-kings-and-the-saviour-of-syphilis/
5 “Can Soy Protein Hurt Testosterone in Men?” BY WILLIAM GAMONSKI OCT. 03, 2017 “In research reported in the January 2007 issue of the journal “Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention,” scientists…studied the effects of soy protein supplementation on testosterone levels in healthy men. They found that subjects consuming 56 g of soy protein for 28 days had reduced testosterone levels.” www.livestrong.com/article/377025-can-soy-protein-hurt-testosterone-in-men/
6 “Sex-change treatment for kids on the rise” / AP February 20, 2012, 8:12 AM. CBS News www.cbsnews.com/news/sex-change-treatment-for-kids-on-the-rise/