I’ve heard it said that you’re not all bad. That you have given confidence and direction to thousands of boys and young men. That some of your life lessons – on healthy living, nutrition and exercise – are sound. I’ve heard it said that you provide belonging, purpose, ambition.
There is no doubt that you are influential. And your methods are successful.
You are a leader.
And here the problems begin. And the problems grow. And they multiply and are boosted by algorithms. They go viral, these problems. Because of you.
Because, these life lessons are fuelled, as far as I can see, by a powerful poison.
You are a mis-leader.
Your methods are designed to beguile. To look good. Healthy even. To normalise your views on women, for example.
The values you promote as traditional, protective, quasi-religious truths are pernicious, disrespectful and harmful. They are noxious.
If you mix the good with the bad, the bad wins. An omelette can be made of free range, organic eggs and presented on a clean, white plate. But, if the cook has added arsenic, it is lethal.
Socrates was condemned to death for corruption of the youth. He was made to drink hemlock – a poison. His ‘crime’ was getting people to think critically for themselves. To free them from the chains of blind assumptions and received ideas.
Who knows what crimes you may or may not have committed? That’s another matter.
But corruption of the youth? As a parent and an educator, this concerns me deeply. There are so many influences out there. How do we ensure that our children know the good influence from the bad?
Good parenting, for sure. Strong communities with open discussion.
In schools, we strive to promote values of respect, tolerance and acceptance. Modern values that celebrate difference.
And we live in an age of free speech. As Voltaire famously wrote: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” The same spirit that did for Socrates. And that liberates minds.
Perhaps we need to listen even more carefully these views of yours. To understand your methods.
All the better to dismantle them.
In some ways, you may actually help us. If we handle you wisely. If we examine your ways, we can identify the wrong turns our boys and men could take. And we can better promote the wonderful variety of positive masculinities.
So, thank you, at least, for that.