[Advice] Masculinity in Conflict-George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin Edition

“Our fathers were models for God. If our fathers abandoned us, what does that tell us about God?” -Fight Club

“We used to have the church. Which was another way of saying, we had each other.” – The Departed
“The six scariest words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’” -Ronald Reagan

The opinions of the media, the social justice community and the black community have been largely monolithic. Speaking with one voice, they have roundly expressed outrage over the result through social media outlets, on the internet and in traditional media.

We here at HSCT have an opinion on the case and the verdict, however, we start with three caveats:

  • We were not in the courtroom and with the exception of details we have gleaned from the aforementioned outrage, have no ideas about the facts of the case.
  • We were not the jurors, the judge, the prosecutor, the defense attorney, the investigators, or anyone else who had direct access to the facts of the case.
  • We were not in the courtroom and did not hear one of the facts of the case, presented in evidence, during the trial, nor did we watch one moment of the trial coverage.

However, from the 50,000-foot up level, we recognize the ripple of conflict, brought on by a confrontation, occurring in a society dealing with difficulties in many areas, including race, gender, power, attention and advocacy.

With that in mind, we reprint here a blog post Masculinity in Conflict that we wrote back in December of 2012 following the Sandy Hook school shooting.

We here at HSCT believe that the same, core issues around misplaced masculine power that were in evidence then, are in evidence now, both in the 17 year olds’ actions as well as the 29 year olds’ response to those actions.

When are mature, responsible men going to start “fixing” other men and young boys so that events like this do not have to happen anymore?

We were hesitant to even comment on the killings in Connecticut this week in this forum, because here at HSCT, we have a core value that all life is precious and that all lives have value.
We particularly hold this value dear for people who cannot defend themselves adequately in the world, such as the mentally ill and children. Both of those groups were impacted by the actions of one mentally ill individual.
We tend to also wait until all the facts are in and then make a judgment about a situation, and over the last six to seven days, with a speed never fully imagined in a world before social media, we have been held breathless and traumatized by the changing facts of the hour on the ground.We here at HSCT take no official position on gun control or assault weapons bans.

We do note , however, that gun-related violence and gun based crimes in places where such bans are in effect (such as Chicago and other major metropolitan areas)  runs rampant, with black on black murder rates, that make what happened in Connecticut look like exactly what it was: random and senseless.

We take no official position on treating the mentally ill. We also take no position on survivalists and people who fear the “End of the World” or economic collapses.

However, we do take a position on conflict and we do take a position on ways to avoid, ameliorate and prevent conflicts form occurring in the first place.

And in this case, the most glaring issue is not access to weapons or mental illness (those have been with us since Abel killed Cain, or two monkeys slew each other over fruit, depending upon your belief system). The most glaring issue is one, which we have spoken little about at all:


What does it mean to be a man?

How does a young child grow into a boy and finally, through the throws of the teenage years to be a man?

How does he honor, respect and protect himself? What emotions is he allowed to show, express and experience?

We have a crisis in the world, and it is with our young men: young men ages 12 to 35 commit the majority of violent crime. Restless and bored young men commit the majority of rapes, murders, robberies and assaults. We watch as young men in this country play video games and consume media that passes along messages that violence and anger are appropriate methods of resolving conflicts with others.

We compound our problem by medicating young men for ADD and ADHD when in the past, they would have been put out to push a plow or work in a factory to wear themselves out.

And then we wonder at their behavior. They lash out aggressively after years of bullying and violence that they have seen: Unable to talk to parents, educators or even each other. They feel alienated from females and from education: Some colleges are almost at 60% female 40% male and the male dropout rate in the first year of college is criminally underreported.

So….who’s to blame? Who’s responsible for all of this? To whom can we point? What government agency or law can be passed to “fix” this so that we can return to our lives?

One group is responsible for all of this and can fix it effectively and one group alone:


Let me restate that in case you missed it: Responsible, mature, steady adult men have an obligation to mentor, coach, advise and raise (yes, I said raise) the next generation of men. And too many fathers, brothers, uncles, grandfathers and others have failed miserably at that task.

The “why” is unimportant; what is important is that men have abdicated this role for too long in our society overall and in families in particular:

  • They have allowed unscrupulous males to abuse and molest innocent young children;
  • They have allowed the state to step in where they should have years ago;
  • They have not partnered with women; instead they have allowed women to take on more of the blame and the responsibility for the failures of men and boys to acculturate to our new society and culture.

It’s no mistake that the killer in Connecticut was taken to the gun range by his mother and taught to shoot.

Men have to stand up and say that emotions and feelings are real and that they feel them and that anger is not a primary emotion: disgust, fear, worry, betrayal, love, grace, and on and on.

Men have to stand up and be responsible for their own reproductive, mental and physical health: Go and see a therapist and talk about the experience. Go and talk to a religious leader and talk about that. Wrap your tool in a condom and talk about being with one person monogamously and how fabulous that is. Go to the doctor and talk about how that restores you as a man and makes you stronger.

Men have to take their sons, nephews and grandsons and hug them every night of their lives and tell them that they love them and that failure is only temporary and that the world, while scary, can be conquered through hope. Men have a responsibility to teach and mentor the next generation to remember that a child is more than a support payment or a burden and instead is a gift that comes with a price.

Men have to take their daughters, their wives, their aunts, their mothers and their grandmothers and demonstrate that honor and caring are strengths, not weaknesses.

Men have to stand up and say that bullying someone because of color or sexual orientation is cowardice and that understanding comes, not from the media or the pundits, but from talking through differences and accepting them.

Men have to stand up and show that being physical and being strong are two different things.

Men have a lot of responsibility to take responsibility for, before shootings and murders stop, before violence is banished; but if we don’t do it now, more kindergarteners will die, more mothers and parents will wail, more laws will be passed and the problems will continue.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: jsorrells@hsconsultingandtraining.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HSConsultingandTraining
Twitter: www.twitter.com/Sorrells79
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jesansorrells/

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