Exposing the “Mental Health Crisis”

In sociology, mental health has long been viewed as a “social construction” like gender, race, etc. It is absolutely true in this case. Autism is new a “spectrum” that can be as wide as the mental health community wishes it to be. Homosexuality and transgenderism used to be afflictions that no longer appear in the DSM-V (the psychologists’ Bible for mental illnesses).

The United States of America is the most medicated society in the history of mankind. Do we really have a mental health crisis in which growing numbers of citizens are suffering from a mental illness, or are doctors and therapists merely prescribe more medication? I have always believed that the latter is the most likely answer, but my recent experiences have served to solidify that opinion.

I have been working as a mental health counselor in a local middle school for a few weeks now. It is a personally rewarding job, as helping kids overcome their social problems is an extremely important job. However, the unholy alliance of the education system, mental health industry, and government healthcare in the pockets of a private business has created an incredibly dangerous and destructive environment for our children.

My employer requires a minimum number of billable hours known as “productivity.” These hours are billed to Medicaid. The company needs to bill Medicaid so they can cover costs (payroll, rent, keeping the lights on, etc.) of doing business. I have to provide an average of 5 hours of productivity every day. I also need to have enough students on my caseload to meet those productivity standards. I share my caseload with a therapist who also has their own productivity numbers to meet.

Thus, a school therapist is incentivized to diagnose “enough” kids in the school to meet the productivity standards in order to bill Medicaid enough money to pay all of us.

The real consequence of this policy is an uptick in mental health diagnoses. I have already met with a number of students who have behavioral problems, not mental health problems. Most of them are on the “spectrum” – basically any kid who has trouble making friends ends up here. Several have been diagnosed with ADHD – any kid who has a hard time paying attention to boring teachers in classes that they don’t care about.

I have sat in public school classrooms. My clients are supposed to sit and exhibit ideal behavior while a half-dozen students who have not been diagnosed are acting like wild animals. My kids have “mental health” problems, but these other kids do not.

Many of my clients do not take prescribed medication because they say, “it makes me feel weird” or “I don’t feel like myself.” I completely understand this. In college, I read a paper about “the medicated self” which argues that those on anti-depressants are unsure which “self” is their true self.

Imagine being told that your “self” is not complete unless you are taking medication that basically turns you into a different person. This medicated “self” is the “good self”, while your natural existence is viewed as incomplete.

So we now have a group of students who are “mentally ill”, while other students who exhibit the same behavior are “mentally healthy.” One group is told that they need drugs to be complete, while the other is told they are whole. One group is diagnosed with “mental illnesses” whose definitions change over time, often due to social pressure from social justice lobbyists. One group needs to be diagnosed as mentally ill in order to keep therapists and CPSTs employed. One group is told they are incomplete, and we wonder why they grow up into adults who continue to exhibit mental health problems.

This does not even address the potential damage that a psychotropic drug can have when introduced to an otherwise healthy brain. Most people who are diagnosed have not had any sort of brain scan. An “expert” who sits in an office determines the brain chemistry of a client after a conversation or two – not an MRI or C/T scan, but a chat determines that neurons and synapses are not working properly –  and prescribes drugs to these individuals.

This is the reality of America’s “mental health crisis.” We are creating mental illness by redefining what makes someone ill and introducing brain chemistry altering drugs into potentially healthy brains.

**This is not to say that there are not legitimate cases of mental illness. I am merely saying that they are far less prevalent than we are led to believe.**

Many of our schools are filled with mental health workers who are incentivized to diagnose a certain number of students as mentally ill in order to fulfill arbitrary “productivity” standards.

It is my experience that the overwhelming similarity between clients is the lack of a two-parent household. Some poor kid who experiences abuse or abandonment in the home acts out at school to get attention to show that he has power somewhere. These kids do not have broken brains, they are victims of broken homes.

We must fix families. We must worry more about making these kids whole rather than meeting “productivity”. We must allow teachers and schools to deal with kids in a more effective way than slapping them with a mental health diagnosis that excuses bad behavior and will follow them for the rest of their lives.

We must stop telling our kids that they are not whole.

I would gladly sacrifice my job for the greater good. The “mental health crisis” needs to be discussed. We must shine a light on the dark corners of the mental health industry before it all gets worse.

If you are a mental health worker, do you agree or disagree? Where am I wrong? Where am I right? I would love to hear from you by either commenting on this post or you can email me at scornedchaos@hotmail.com.

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Ohio State Juvenile Reforms

A Brief History of Ohio Juvenile Institutions

Prior to the institution of the Ohio Reform School in 1857, male juvenile offenders were sent to adult penitentiaries. The ORS housed boys between 8 and 18 years old. It adopted the cottage style “open system” rather than a large structure to house inmates. Boys entered the ORS with a number of “demerits” that were based on the nature of their crimes. Bad behavior led to additional demerits, but good behavior led to the loss of demerits. Once a boy reached zero demerits, they were freed and returned to their families (Ohio History Central n.d.).

The Breaking Point

By 1992, the Ohio juvenile prison system was breaking down. The state had 11 facilities with the capacity to house 1,400 inmates. However, there were nearly 2,500 boys held in these institutions. Nine counties instituted a pilot program in 1993 to curb the rising problems within the system. They began to funnel non-violent offenders into community based programs with mental health services, family counseling, and substance abuse treatment, rather than youth prisons (Shaffer 2015).

The immediate results were clear. The number of inmates dropped 40% in the first year, the daily cost per offender in youth prisons was around $550, but community-based programs cost only $200. Recidivism rates were cut in half, and 85% of the courts in the system approved of the reforms. Although a marked improvement, Ohio juvenile corrections facilities suffered from many of the same problems that most institutions do.

 

The Institutional State of State Institutions

            In 2010, the Children’s Defense Fund, in conjunction with the Annie E. Casey Foundation – the organization most famously connected with the uber-successful “Missouri Model” – released a report on the state of juvenile institutions in the state of Ohio. The Missouri Model promotes keeping youths in smaller facilities rather than gigantic institutions. They focus on treatment over incarceration. They promote group therapy over isolation. The staff promotes positive interaction over abuse and intimidation. They encourage education, family involvement, and stay with youths after they are released.

Abuses and Lawsuits

            The Ohio Department of Youth Services (ODYS) faced a federal lawsuit filed in 2004 that was finally settled in 2008, over its unconstitutional treatment of inmates. There were complaints about increased violence and abuse coming from both guards and other inmates. In one incident, inmates were being transferred in a face down position from one facility to another (Prison Legal News 2015). Other accusations involved isolation, and racial bias in mental health treatment.

By 2012, the ODYS filed a motion to terminate a stipulation requiring court-ordered monitoring of the system. The court agreed that no more, or at least, very few unconstitutional actions were taking place within the ODYS, and monitoring ended (Prison Legal News 2015).

In 2014, the ODYS settled another lawsuit brought by the U.S. Justice Department over the unlawful seclusion of inmates. As part of the settlement, ODYS agreed to reduce and eventually end seclusion of youths and increase the availability of mental health treatments to better determine the root causes of behavior that led to such a punishment (Department of Justice 2014).

A 2016 lawsuit was filed by Disability Rights Ohio (DRO) against the Multi-County Juvenile Detention Center (MCJDC) in Lancaster, OH for refusing to allow DRO to investigate their facilities with private and confidential access. While given a tour, the MCJDC did not allow DRO to have private conversations with inmates – a confidential discussion that ensures the safety of an inmate who may have concerns about their treatment at the facility. This is a violation of state and federal law (Disability Rights Ohio 2016).

JDAI

The state of Ohio began instituting a national program of Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) in the state’s five largest counties in 2010. Prior to the implementation of JDAI, Ohio’s juvenile incarceration rate was among the top third of all states. Only 33% of juveniles were detained for person-offenses, more than 40% for drug offenses, and 25% for violating probation, status offenses, violating court orders, or other technical offenses (Children’s Defense Fund 2010).

The four core goals of JDAI are to: 1) Eliminate the overuse of secure detention; 2) Minimize failures to appear in court and reduce delinquent behavior; 3) Redirect public finances from building new facilities to creating responsible alternative strategies; and 4) Improve conditions in secure detention facilities.

According to the Children’s Defense Fund (2010), a multi-level approach was proposed for juvenile reforms in Ohio, including:

  1. Continue and Expand County-Based Detention Reform.
  2. Continue State Leadership on Reducing Incarceration Rates.
  3. Create a System of State Oversight, Assistance and Accountability for Detention.
  4. Ensure that All Youth Risking Detention Have Effective Legal Representation.

Results

By 2017, there was a 29% reduction in juvenile admissions across the eight sites that implemented JDAI reforms (Kuhlman 2017), and many other sites were closed. The institution of Community Intervention Centers have been implemented in Cleveland and Dayton, and the state plans to hire more guards and train them in de-escalation techniques (Shaffer 2017). Unfortunately, there is a severe lack of statewide data on the successes (or lack thereof) of JDAI reforms in Ohio’s juvenile facilities. However, one of the five initial reform sites in Franklin County “experienced a 90% success rate at their evening reporting center for youth at high risk for reoffending, with not one participant being readmitted to their Reception Center with a new charge” (Children’s Defense Fund 2015). If we extrapolate these results to the other sites, that is an amazing positive development in Ohio’s juvenile justice system.

The facilities run by the ODYS have instituted reforms over the same period as well. The daily population has fallen dramatically in the ODYS, many facilities have closed, and an increase in behavioral and mental health treatment programs. However, recidivism rates are all over the place – they are up and down depending on the length of stay and age of the inmate. Regardless, they are nowhere near as low as rates in the JDAI facilities (Children’s Defense Fund 2015).

Discussion

            Ohio is a state that is desperately trying to reform its facilities. The long-lasting ODYS has been essentially court-ordered to reform its institutions. Meanwhile, JDAI reforms have been implemented in many other facilities. This is a positive development in both cases, but the JDAI results are outpacing that of ODYS. As mentioned earlier, statewide data from JDAI in Ohio is lacking. However, given the results that we do know from Ohio counties and similar results from other states that have implemented the Missouri Model, we can assume that statewide data would yield similar outcomes.

Closing facilities, eliminating huge detention centers, treating inmates like human beings, focusing on education, lowering recidivism rates, and helping released youths to reintegrate back into society after leaving a facility have made Missouri the most successful state for juvenile reforms in the country. Their results outpace all other states. JDAI in Ohio appears to be delivering similar results. Therefore, I believe that the Missouri Model based JDAI reforms should be the new standard for juvenile reforms in not just Ohio, but in all states.

 

Works Cited

Children’s Defense Fund. 2010. “Rethinking Juvenile Detention in Ohio.” Retrieved from http://www.cdfohio.org/research-library/2010/JuvDetention_Issue_Brief.pdf

Children’s Defense Fund 2015. “Juvenile Justice Fact Sheet Series.”

Department of Justice. 2014. “Justice Department Settles Lawsuit Against State of Ohio to End   Unlawful Seclusion of Youth in Juvenile Correctional Facilities.” Retrieved from             https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-settles-lawsuit-against-state-ohio-end-  unlawful-seclusion-youth-juvenile

Disability Rights Ohio. 2016. “DRO Files Federal Lawsuit Against Juvenile Detention Facility for Denying DRO Access to Detained Youth.” Retrieved from     https://www.disabilityrightsohio.org/news/dro-files-federal-lawsuit-against-juvenile-detention-facility-for-denying

Kuhlman, Mary. 2017. “National Model Inspires Juvenile Detention Reform in Ohio.” Public News Service. Retrieved from http://www.publicnewsservice.org/2017-04-17/juvenile-    justice/national-model-inspires-juvenile-detention-reform-in-ohio/a57182-1

Ohio History Central. n.d. “Ohio Reform School.” Retrieved from http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/w/Ohio_Reform_School

Prison Legal News. 2015. “Court Ends Injunctive Monitoring of Ohio Juvenile System.” Retrieved from https://www.prisonlegalnews.org/news/2015/jan/12/court-ends-       injunctive-monitoring-ohio-juvenile-system/

Shaffer, Cory. 2015. “Ohio’s Effort to Reform Juvenile Prisons is a National Model.” Cleveland.com. Retrieved from             http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2015/10/ohios_efforts_to_reform_juveni.html

Shaffer, Cory. 2017. “Reforms to Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center Will Balance Public Safety with Dignity of Teens, Officials Say.” Cleveland.com. Retrieved from             http://www.cleveland.com/courtjustice/index.ssf/2018/04/reforms_to_cuyahoga_county_juv.html

Reductio ad Racism

A reductionist fallacy occurs when we take an incredibly complex issue and reduce it to one factor while ignoring other possible factors.

Race is almost always cited as being one of, and often the most, significant factors for arrests, sentencing, and incarcerations. However, I believe that this is due to lack of imagination on behalf of researchers. Race is often presented as a causal factor – because someone is black, they are more likely to be targeted by police or policies and end up incarcerated. However, there are other intervening variables.

According to the Cato Institute, native born blacks have the highest incarceration rate of all racial and ethnic groups (4.21%). However, black legal immigrants have an incarceration rate of 0.57%, which is lower than Hispanic and “other” (mostly Middle-Eastern) races. This is a massive difference, and is the largest difference between native and immigrant incarceration rates between any racial and ethnic group. If blacks from Africa have such a relatively low incarceration rate compared to native blacks, can we really attribute the discrepancy in incarceration rates to only race?
We again discuss race as it relates to poverty and crime, but we refuse to admit that poverty may be the more important variable. Blacks make up 34% of the prison population (while only 13% of the total population), while whites (67% of the total population) make up 30% of prisons. Blacks also have a poverty rate of 22% compared to 9% for whites. We MUST consider that the reason why black incarceration rates are so much higher than white incarceration rates, is because there is a much higher rate of blacks in poverty than whites.

When we tease poverty out, rates of violence, arrests, and incarceration are virtually identical. According to the BJS, “Poor urban blacks (51.3 per 1,000) have rates of violence similar to poor urban whites (56.4 per 1,000).” If poverty is an equalizer, then race cannot be the primary factor.

There’s also the argument of geography. Crime is generally higher in urban areas. There is a higher concentration of blacks in urban areas. Again, when comparing overall crime rates by race, we should consider that most blacks live in crime areas than whites, but that does not mean that whites living in urban areas are committing a lower rate of crime. In most crime data used to make an argument about race, urban blacks (the majority of blacks) are essentially compared to suburban and rural whites (where they are the majority). Geography is the lost variable that I have rarely, if ever, seen considered. Perhaps research exists, but I have not seen it.

Of course, culture, as always, is ignored. American black culture, African culture, rich culture, WASP culture, Hispanic culture, Japanese culture, Asian culture, redneck culture, etc. are all different. They often have different dreams and aspirations, as well as opportunities. Their beliefs, values, and social norms are determined within the group and are difficult to change. There are plenty of examples of people moving from one sub-culture to another within a more dominant one. Assimilation rates differ, and the desire to assimilate is different among various cultures.

The argument is much more nuanced than the racial disparity proponents want to admit, and we would be hard pressed to find a plethora of data out there that dives into these nuances. It’s easier to employ the reduction fallacy, especially when it constantly remains unchecked. Political correctness and the fear of being labeled a racist stifles any further investigation.

Future research should acknowledge that racial categories are not monolithic. I doubt that will happen, because it goes against the narrative of race being the most determinate status in the history of everything.

Social Suicide and Mass Murder

On Valentine’s Day a 19-year-old kid marched into his old high school and opened fire on students who walked out of their classrooms when the killer pulled a fire alarm just before the end of the school day. Reports have come out giving us some insight on his life. The media (both mainstream and social) is focusing on guns and mental illness. Here is why I believe they are looking at the wrong thing.

In Emile Durkheim’s seminal work, Suicide, he looked at death records from several countries in Europe. He found that there are essentially four types of suicide: 1) Egotistic – when someone experiences a lack of social integration or are isolated (widows, hermits, victims of bullying); 2) Anomic – lack of moral regulation or a sudden change in life where the “new normal” feels overwhelming. There is a sense of “normlessness” where all of the social norms we abide by change and the new rules are difficult to grasp (losing a job or loved one; moving to a new country); 3) Fatalistic – overwhelming oppression and hopelessness (prisoners, terminally ill); 4) Altruistic – for the greater good (soldiers, firemen, suicide bombers).
Durkheim found that suicide is not a psychological phenomenon, but a social one. Changes in one’s social integration is a greater indicator of violence against oneself than any psychological condition.

Now, let’s apply this theory to what we know about the Valentine’s Day shooter.

  1. He was social isolated. Most reports are that he was bullied pretty regularly. He had very few friends. He was kicked out of school and other social organizations. This is indicative of Egotistic suicide.
  2. His adopted father died a few years ago, but his adopted mother died just three months ago. This dramatic social event would be a likely catalyst for anomic suicide.
  3. He apparently exhibited numerous histrionic outbursts – I believe these were to draw attention to an otherwise lonely boy – yet still managed to fly under the radar of law enforcement.
  4. Therefore, he was isolated from peers by choice (making numerous threats) or force (expulsion and bullying), as well as dealing with the death of his last remaining parent (and I have to wonder if being adopted started his feelings of social isolation). He also lives in a country where guns are weaved into the fabric of the nation and are constantly depicted in the media in both positive and negative lights.

It seems to me that this is a social recipe for a disaster. Rather than turning the weapon on himself, he turned it on others. Regardless, he follows a similar pattern to other mass murders, serial killers, and the suicidal. Reports are that the Vegas shooter, Steven Paddock, lost a lot of money before his rampage and was socially isolated from almost everyone except his roommate/girlfriend. The Columbine shooters were socially isolated and bullied. The same goes for the Aurora shooter, the Virginia Tech shooter, and almost all other mass murderers over the last 20 years.

I truly believe that we need to stop thinking of these events as psychological anomalies. There is something wrong with the SOCIAL fabric of the nation right now.

We have been in perpetual war since 2001. We just experienced a major economic recession. Social media and online video games are keeping kids from face-to-face interactions. We are the most medicated society in history. Our social and demographic categories are being constantly challenged and redefined. Religion is becoming less and less of an effective institution. Our electorate is becoming more and more divided.

Basically, we are in a national state of anomic normlessness that is leading to increasing social isolation. As our institutions continue to crumble, so does our ability to maintain solidarity. Without social solidarity and stability, we feel hopeless. We feel socially suicidal.

Some of us develop depression. Some of us do kill ourselves. Some are committing mass murder. The signs and symptoms are all there.

Since Suicide was published in 1897, data continues to back up Durkheim’s theory. I truly believe that we are experiencing social suicide that is beginning to manifest in social homicide.

These shooters are not “mentally ill”, they are socially constructed monsters. No laws can stop the inevitable destruction brought about by social unrest. Medicating the problem like we medicate our citizenry will not solve the problem.

The Satanic Era

In the first episode of Mindhunter, the Netflix show about how the FBI serial killer program began, an interesting proposition was presented. The gist is that prior to the 1970s, crime had motive. In the contemporary era, however, motive was no longer a factor. Serial killers may have a modus operandi, and even a purpose, but they essentially kill indiscriminately. Random people become targets. Of course, this is a fictional story, but does that make the point any less relevant?

We may understand a killer has a motive, such as creating fear or terror, but there is no motive for target selection. Consider the most recent case of the Las Vegas shooting. As of this writing, a full month has passed and no one knows what motivated Stephen Paddock to shoot 500 people. Many terror attacks are on large groups of people, but none involve a personal motive.

Gone are the days of organized crime when gangsters wanted to “send a message” by killing a rival or snitch. No longer must a woman die because she was cheating on her husband. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time is as dangerous as infidelity in today’s world. When did this change?

I will once again point my finger at what I have termed “the Satanic Era” of the 1960s. Prior to the 1960s, the majority of mass killings were familicide. Since the 1960s, mass killings have been in public places against innocent bystanders. The deadliest decade prior to 1960 was the 30s, with 9 mass shootings. The 1960s had 6, the 70s had 13, there were 32 in the 1980s, and over 40 in the 1990s. The number since then as only increased.

Again, low numbers of mass shootings which primarily were targeted at family members prior to the 60s. Much higher frequency of shootings with a major increase in bystander fatalities since the 1960s.

How about serial killers, the focus of Mindhunter? According to one site, there were only a dozen or so serial killers in the United States in the decades leading up to the 1960s. There were 19 in the 1960s, 119 in the 70s, 200 in the 80s, and 141 in the 1990s. The number has since dropped to 60 or less in the twenty-first century, but the line drawn through the Satanic Era is still worth noting.

It does appear that this notion of random killing has increased since the 1960s.

17,000 women were forcibly raped in 1960. By the end of the decade, the number of victims had more than doubled. By 1992, the number peaked at over 109,000.

Recreational drug and alcohol use, though prevalent regardless of drug laws, has exploded since the 1960s.

Increases in violence against strangers, depictions of violence and sex in film and television, sexual assault, drug use, alcoholism, the opioid crisis, teen pregnancies, deviant sexual behaviors, homosexuality, transgenderism, mass murder, and serial killings are directly correlated with the decline in major religion and distrust of major media and government institutions.

In every single one of these categories – religious decline (secularization), increases in crime and deviance, the birth of new religious movements and serial killers – you can draw a line before and after the Satanic Era of the 1960s and see that there has been a seismic social shift in the United States.

One cannot help but notice that many of the same issues of the 1960s are manifest today. Civil unrest, shouts of racism, segregation, unending protest, free love, excessive drug use, sensitivity toward anything deemed “offensive”, attacks on free speech and the Constitution, militarized police, political corruption, calls for revolution, Marxism, and the list goes on and on.

I am a child of the 80s, but I would love to hear from those who were alive during the 60s. Does your lived experience mirror my theory? Has the shift been noticeable? Do you think there has actually been a shift? Please, I want to hear from you.

A Masculine Manifesto

The patriarchy is alive and well. Men are the highest paid group in the United States. Over 95% of the Fortune 500 has a man as CEO, and most of the other executive positions are held by guys as well. The richest woman in the world, Liliane Bettencourt, is still only the 14th wealthiest person in the world, and only 11% of the world’s billionaires are women.

Men dominate the global economy.

There are only 15 women in the on the planet who are considered a “world leader.” That means only 7.6% of the world’s nations are led by a female.

Men dominate global leadership.

The U.S. Congress is over 90% men, our executive branch is led by men, 5 of the 8 (soon to be 6 of 9) members of the Supreme Court are men, and 45 of 50 states are led by men.

Men dominate American leadership.

Men are 4 times more likely to commit suicide. Men use a wider variety of drugs, and have higher overall rates of use of illicit drugs and alcohol. Males are close to 4 times more likely to be murdered, and more than 10 times more likely to be killed at work. Men die more often of stress related diseases (and non-stress related diseases as well). Men live an average of 7 fewer years than women. Men are more likely to fight and die in combat.

Men dominate being killed.

There are 1.47 MILLION men in prison compared to 111,000 women. Men comprise over 85% of military personnel, and almost 100% in combat. 52% of mental hospitals, and 97% of VA mental health clinics are filled with men.

Men dominate total institutions.

You see, while we keep hearing about the patriarchy, men are giving their lives for it. The ramifications of public social pressures to be the breadwinner lead men to work longer hours or take more dangerous jobs that pay more money. This causes stress related heart attacks or death by work related accidents.

While women may dominate the service economy now, they also dominate our universities. This means that the “good jobs” of the future that typically go to those with higher education will be filled with women. The calls for women to be wealthy CEOs are rising, but the calls for women to take sole responsibility as the breadwinner are not so prevalent. When a woman fails, she is told how strong and brave she is for even trying. When a man fails, his role as a leader, breadwinner, father, husband, and man is challenged by both other men and the women that expect him to live up to social standards.

The response when a man cannot fulfill this traditionally historical role is to take to substance abuse or a collapse in mental health; possibly even suicide.

Moreover, the media ignores any sort of abuse that men and boys may suffer. 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused. This is very similar to the 1 in 5 statistic for women that is touted by every social justice warrior and public university in this country. Do you hear about men?

Men wear masks to cover our insecurities. When we laugh around others, we may be feeling the most pain. We act toughest when we are the most vulnerable. Men are less likely to have any sort of emotional outlet. When a woman faces a problem, she can call up a dozen friends and pour out her feelings. Men who do this are almost immediately checked and told to “man up,” so we put our masks back on.

Bottling up emotions leads to violent outbursts (over 90% of our prisoners are men – more than half of those are for violent offences). Men are taught at a young age that the only acceptable emotions are anger and aggression. All others are shunned.

Is it no wonder that men are having more difficult times committing to one woman and understanding what love and compassion are?

If a man enjoys art, opera, or poetry, he is labeled as feminine and called a “fag” by his macho friends. Our generations forget that some of the greatest men in history were artists or enjoyed going to plays and musicals. Men are supposed to like women, guns, sports, and cars. All else results in the return of his “man card.” George Washington and Thomas Jefferson studied philosophy while wearing powdered wigs and tights. Abraham Lincoln was shot while watching live theater. If only they were “real men,” right?

In the name of “equality,” our young boys are finding out that they are no longer allowed to buy lunch or open doors for the opposite sex. Having any sort of intellectual conversation has now been deemed “mansplaining” and this notion of patriarchy – which is not felt equally by all men – has become a staple meme in the feminist movement.

Men can be bullied, but men cannot be victims.

We also tend to forget that not all men are CEOs of major corporations. Men in poverty are the most at risk for suicide, criminal behavior, job related deaths, and substance abuse; though CEOs are the ones having early heart attacks and stress related diseases.

What I propose is a radical solution. We should teach men that it is okay to show a full range of emotions. We should teach men that failing is sometimes necessary, and bravery is overcoming adversity, not avoiding it. We should teach men that they are human, they are loved, and they are free to enjoy football or ballet.

 

The model of true masculinity is Jesus Christ. God became a man who did get angry at times. However, Christ traveled from region to region helping the poor and downtrodden. Jesus respected all women, especially his mother. He was charitable, giving, caring, and loving. He showed a wide range of emotions and avoided any temptation that would have tarnished his character in any way. He stood against the political and religious powers of his day with brazen courage. He spoke truth to power with insurmountable wisdom. He was consistent in all things. He wore no mask.

And neither should we.

 

Taking God for Granted

Think of all the things we take for granted in life.
The concepts of white privilege and patriarchy are that white males have certain historical advantages that they never actually think about. Things are becoming more egalitarian, for sure. However, Western civilization has been, for better or worse, a product of straight white men exploiting others.
Don’t believe me? When we identify colleagues or even friends, we often clarify the race of minorities, but not whites. You do not hear things like “famous male inventor Thomas Edison…” or “the straight, white Founding Fathers like Jefferson and Madison.” On the other hand, we do that for racial minorities, homosexuals, and women.

In other words, heterosexual and white are default categories. The all-encompassing term to describe all of humanity is “mankind.” Consider the term “straight,” which is the opposed of crooked, which has the negative connotation of deviance. These are taken for granted assumptions typically made by straight, white, men and are often challenged by those who violate one or more of those categories. The reaction from those in the majority is shock and denial of their privileges.

This happens when we take these concepts for granted, and Christians have been doing the same thing with doctrine. From everything from Bible translations to baptism, the modern American Christian has been fattened with privileges that go all-too-often ignored.

Our Christian Founding Fathers were persecuted and murdered for their Faith. The history of the Church is filled with meeting in secret locations under penalty of death from their governments, which still occurs in many countries. What do we, as Americans, do? We use our Christian colleges as an excuse to challenge and “correct” the Bible that our brothers and sisters and the Middle-East are being beheaded over. While we bicker about whether we should wear suits or have drums in a worship setting, Christians around the world are being crucified or burned alive.

We need not fear being used as gladiatorial fodder in the Colosseum of Rome, so we find minor things over which to quibble.

Almost 80% of Americans identify as Christian, but the average weekly church attendance for a believer in this country is 1.7 services per month. Attendance is not low because Uncle Sam is waiting to bust in our doors and imprison those inside, but because to 22% of American churchgoers, watching football has become a priority. Rather than being thrust into the arena to face lions, we can watch others combat live on television. We take our churches for granted, because we have churches to go to.

American Christians have taken church attendance for granted, but have also taken prayer and daily time in Scripture for granted. We can tell you anything you want about what our favorite actors are up to, but nothing about Solomon’s life. We can quote Tom Brady’s QB rating in the 2004 playoffs, but can’t quote a verse other than John 3:16. We have time to text, not call, but text our best friends with every detail of our daily lives, but spend no time having a conversation with our Heavenly Father.

I cannot tell you the number of fellow church members and Church members who gleefully post party pictures on social media with faces distorted by drunken frivolity; forgetting that we are called to be pictures of Christ to our unsaved friends and families. How can a drug addict be helped by someone who is right next to them shooting up? How might an alcoholic have a life change while we sit at the bar sharing shots? With no thought of the repercussions, we indulge in the very same behaviors as those who are lost. How will they ever be found when we throw the map in the garbage?

We do these things because we CAN do these things. We do them because we CHOOSE to do them. We put God’s will behind our own ambitions because we ignore the manifestation of His grace in our lives. We no longer count our blessings, because our insatiable thirst for humanistic pursuits has us spoiled and privileged.

No one is perfect. We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God. The difference is that the heroes of the Bible felt regret when they fell from grace. King David never fully recovered from his tryst with Bathsheba. Peter spent the rest of his life trying to make up for his denial of Christ before the crucifixion. Will we do the same, or will we continue to take our privilege for granted?

Check your privilege. It is there, and we must acknowledge its existence. The only way we will be effective at bringing others to Christ is if we throw away our hedonistic lifestyles and BE LIKE CHRIST. If you sin, it’s okay. Jesus’ blood covers Christians for all eternity. However, we must all try to avoid the temptation to flaunt our sin to everyone in our social networks.

Becoming a Christian is an easy decision for most privileged Americans. LIVING like a Christian is incredibly difficult. The first decision is personal, while the second affects the lives of all those around us. Remember who you represent. You are a child of the King of Kings. You are privileged, whether you want to admit it or not. Time is running out for our loved ones who have yet to accept Christ. Do them a favor and dare to be different. Be a rebel. We are already experiencing a revolution, so be revolutionary. Stop taking God for Granted.