I used to listen to progressive talk radio while cooking or commuting from about 2009 to 2017. Thom Hartmann was one of my favorite progressive talk radio hosts. Despite the fact that we are on opposing political sides, I frequently found myself agreeing with him on certain social issues. We couldn’t agree on the causes of the problems or how to solve them, but we could agree on the fact that they existed.
He’d say something like this at least once a week on his show back then:
“Testosterone is the most dangerous substance on the planet.”
He is completely correct in this regard. I’d just throw in a word like “unguided” or “unregulated” somewhere, but he’s on the right track.
He noticed, as did I, and as will any astute observer, that many societal issues, from street crime to teen pregnancies to mass shootings, can be traced back to young men who are relatively new to the world of testosterone, and who, without an adequate father figure to help them cut through the testosterone fog, make unhealthy, unwise, testosterone-driven decisions.
Guys ages 15–25, without adequate guidance from an older man who’s navigated the testosterone rapids, have a disproportionately negative impact on society. Show me a 20-year-old man who was raised with little guidance from an older man, and has no job or school work to keep him occupied, and I’ll show you a young man who is much more likely to make bad choices that are detrimental not just to his own health and safety, but to those around him as well.
And that, I think, is one of the biggest failures of modern society: far too many young men, full of testosterone, have no idea how to handle the effects of it, have little or no guidance for it from people who’ve gone through it, have no other outlets for their time and energy, and create problems for the rest of society.
Men ages 15–25 with no father figures are just a small fraction of the population, but make up a much larger portion of criminals and prisoners. (At least, they were in that age range when they began their prison sentence.) They also make up the majority of fathers of teen mothers who will end up raising their children on their own, continuing the cycle of fatherlessness.
If you look at most other societies throughout history and around the world, there were social norms and customs to help young men, so they wouldn’t cause these problems for the rest of society. That help all started with the family: the older men in the family guiding the younger men into adulthood.
Modern society has really dropped that ball, and we see the negative consequences of that every time we check the news. If you were able to somehow magically filter out all of the news about crimes and other problems committed by young men without fathers, society would seem like a much safer, more positive place. It wouldn’t just seem that way, it would be that way.
Any conversation about the problems in modern society that don’t include fatherlessness is only partial conversation. It’d be like having a discussion about Mexican food without mentioning tortillas. You’re only talking about the toppings, but not the foundation of a lot of it.
The more young men with no father figures you have in any community, the more problems that community is going to have with violence, crime, assaults, teen pregnancies, low academic achievement in school, etc… Want to find the best places to live? Look for places where the youngest men have fathers actively participating in their lives. Want to find the worst places to live? Look for the opposite