(ON ASSIGNMENT: this is a follow-up to a request concerning my previous post)
You've seen him - - that guy - - the one over there mocking.
To him, everything is a joke, nothing matters, every-one is lame. It is this guy that girls love to hate; it is this guy girls like to date. Strange, but true. He is edgy, dangerous, disengaged, a real jerk...but just like the laughing-girl, he defines what is popular.
I don't really have a title or term for this guy, he comes in many shapes and sizes: he is the cocky-jock on the football team, he is the misunderstood burn-out smoking behind the school, he may even be the sarcastic clown in the local youth group. But one thing is for sure: He is a jackass and people let him get away with it. With what metaphor do I describe him? How does he differ from the kind of man I want my sons to become?
It really is true (even if people try to argue this fact), men are different than women. They are driven by different values and desires. So after thinking about it, the metaphor to describe young men has to be of a different kind - - the label of "annual flower" or "perennial flower"just doesn't fit. Men are more akin to brute beasts and smelly animals. (Flowers have a nice fragrance to them; face it, boys & young men just don't!)
And being a male myself, I have personally wrestled with the inner-turmoil of identity: "Who am I to admire?" "Who am I to become?" Generally speaking: when it comes to the animal world, I think there are three possibilities:
SHARKS (Especially the Great White): The option to be a shark is every red-blooded male's natural choice. "Sharks are cool, sharks are terrifying, sharks do whatever they want." This desire to be "terrifying & independent", someone not to mess with, is in the heart of every male...trust me on this. Have you ever watched the movie "Jaws" with a young teen, instead of seeing this story as a thriller, the boys I know tend to view it as a comedy! That is why they always laugh at one of my favorite stupid jokes, "How do you know the lady that was eaten on 'Jaws' had dandruff?... They found her head & shoulders on the beach."
Some men will do anything for a laugh!
However, as a father, a shark is the last thing I want my boys to emulate. Here are some of the facts concerning a shark's pattern of behavior; which I believe also describes the "jerks" I have rubbed shoulders with on my football teams and fraternity parties:
-The social network of the shark is still a big mystery, traditionally they are known to be mavericks and loners, often avoiding groups, they like to be left-alone.
- There are places where sharks do group together, usually it is an area where there is warmer water which provides an abundant food source. When they are together the larger and more aggressive sharks dominate the smaller newcomers to the group; and in order to show their strength, they give warning bites to keep the weaker sharks submissive.
- When sharks are content, they tend to live sedentary, benthic (bottom feeding) lives. When the food source is gone, they migrate always looking for the next place to feed, always hungry, extremely greedy.
I know men like this, in fact I know a lot of men like this. It is this species that often ruins it for the rest of us. To all women out there, please don't lump all men in the shark category! Somehow, women who have been hurt by sharks, think all males are jerks. But there are other options out there...
DOLPHINS: Not many men aspire to be like a dolphin; at first glance they seem cute, soft and wimpy - - why would any young man want to be like a dolphin? As a parent, my job is to educate and illuminate truth for my kids: everything of value and virtue in this world needs to be discovered. The more they learn, they will begin to realize just how incredible the good things really are. Sharks may seem cool, but after you overcome your ignorant first impressions, you will see that dolphins are amazing. Here are a few facts:
- Dolphins are highly social animals, living in pods of up to a dozen individuals. One super-pod was found to have up to 1,000 dolphins living in community. A dolphin pod has clear communication with one another, they work together to fend off predators (mainly sharks), and they will even care for injured individual dolphins - - often helping them to breathe by bringing them to the surface. In fact, dolphins are known to form long-lasting relationships with other dolphins usually hanging out in pairs.
- Dolphins teach their young skills. Knowledge is passed from older to younger; one example is that a research team found a group of dolphins teaching the young how to cover their snouts with sponges to protect them while foraging for food! "Perdy smart, even if I do say so myself!"
- Dolphins enjoy other dolphins by exhibiting playful behavior: often including objects, self-made bubble rings, and they participate in the play with other dolphins or other animals. They are known to carry the object or animal they are playing with by passing it along to other members of the group or taking it from another member, or throwing it out of the water.
I really want my boys to care about people, to know how to live peaceably in a complicated world, and to enjoy life with the friends they have been given. Nothing makes me more happy than when my boys enjoy the company of the other. But there is a difference between joy and stupid entertainment, and this is where the third animal comes into play...
BLUE GILL: Not much to say about this fish:
- They are abundant, you can find them everywhere.
- They are stupid.
- They travel in large groups and always flow with the current.
- They like shiny things; and once they see it, they bite it. More times than not, it ends at their own peril!
What is so tragic about the blue-gill is that most young men fall into this category. When we don't teach boys how to become dolphins they usually end up following the crowd chasing shiny stupid enjoyments that will end up destroying them. Have you ever watched "2 1/2 men?" Case closed. (Oh, by the way, there is one bit of information I found that I think you will find very interesting and appropriate concerning the blue-gill: "As a female approaches, the male blue-gill will begin circling and making grunting noises." Somethings never change.)
So...for those of you who have boys, ask yourself, which animal do you hope they become? Or more appropriately, which animal have you let them behave like?
In Titus 2:6 there is one singular quality given that we are to teach young men; I believe it is the key to dolphin living: "Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled." Sadly, this is the main thing both sharks and blue-gill are lacking.
What's swimming in your pool?