This I Believe

Timothy - Haddonfield, New Jersey
Entered on June 28, 2007

As a police detective for over seventeen years, I have had opportunities to deal with many people in many circumstances. An interview of a streetwise suspect confirmed what I believe the world needs from men.

My partner was interviewing a hard, calloused man regarding an armed robbery. Occasionally, I interjected an innocuous question. Surprisingly, this tough knot of a man willingly responded, but never looked at either of us. We created a conversation. I learned of his checkered past, his father leaving, his learning to hustle on the streets and his criminal behavior. I asked if he ever had any joy in his life and he told me he did – once – when as a boy he lived with his cousins and uncle. They enjoyed hiking, fishing, and talking. I shared that I do that with my sons and other boys as a Cub Scout leader. This hardened man then sat up, looked me straight in the eyes, and told me to never stop doing that with those boys.

I believe in the need for positive male spiritual role models. My experiences as a police detective verify what the academic studies have discovered regarding crime: a small number of people cause many of our problems. Those small numbers are primarily males in their late teens to early thirties. When I look at the particular cases of these men, I am assured of my belief, for they did not have a positive male spiritual role model. In some cases, they had a negative male role model, if there was a man at all.

Ask most men the worst thing they can hear from their father and they will agree: “I am disappointed with you.” It cuts them to the quick. Men’s behavior is often a journey of seeking male approval. In that journey males must learn wisdom. Males must learn to transform the pain of life, for the pain of life is sublime. Males must learn to experience joy, for in true joy they discover their true selves. Males must learn not to corrupt their innate power as men, for there is a power greater than them – God. All men, from jail to Yale, need a positive male spiritual role model to guide them in their journey to discover this wisdom.

The world is redolent of the journey from boyhood to manhood. As a detective I witness the criminal behavior of men in their journey. The world witnesses men’s negative behavior in their journey in myriad ways. For some men the journey is “I kill; therefore I am.” For all men the journey must be; “I love; therefore I am.” The positive male spiritual role models are present, yet we need more of them. They are not hard to find; often these role models are the average Joes. This conversation needs to spread, as it did with that embattled man and me, with a call to action echoing how important these men are to our world.