Today is Anzac Day, 25th April. The most holy day in the Australian calendar. It is a day when we remember the men who gave their lives for us all, that we might walk in freedom.
Dawn Remembrance Services are held across the nation. This phrase from the Bible is repeated ten thousand times, if not more, in these dawn gatherings:
“Greater love has no man than this that he lay down his life for his friends.”
We remember these heroic men because of their courageous sacrifice. Sadly, we live in an age when men and masculinity are publicly derided. Fathers are betrayed in almost every TV show as buffoons or as axe murderers.
The patriarchy is to blame for every evil under the sun. But what if the restoration of loving and self-sacrificing fatherhood was really the answer to the problems in the first place? What if we cheered the fathers on in our society who are there for their families and their children? What if we honoured the men in our lives today like we do every year at Anzac Day?
Thankfully, there are courageous women who are doing just that for the men of Australia. Cindy McGarvie, author of Lost Boys: Bring Them Home, is such a woman. She is no stranger to men. Cindy spent seven years in the Australian Army. She is the proud mother to three young men.
Recently she wrote an article about the importance of fathers called, “Elephants and Young Men: Toxic Masculinity in the Animal Kingdom”. It is so good that I cannot take anything out. Read it below.
A compelling article in Fatherhood Today magazine was published some years back which many have been discussing since. In it, psychologist Wade Horn explains how the Kruger National Park in South Africa had a concerning problem of an overpopulation of elephants. The once low numbers had grown to an unhealthy level; the park could no longer support such large herds. So they arranged to have some of the elephants relocated to another national park refuge.
The way to do this was by airlifting them on special harnesses. They soon discovered that the huge bull elephants were too big for the harnesses, so they ended up leaving them behind, which brought unforeseen consequences.
The park rangers began to notice some peculiar behaviour with the relocated elephants. A spate of killings — in fact, up to 60 rhinos — were gored to death, and other animals were terrorised. They discovered that the young male elephants were the perpetrators displaying this un-elephantlike behaviour (some even trying to mate with rhinos) and it was because they had no father bull-elephants to keep them in check and teach them normal elephant behaviour.
Some experts believed that the calming influence of female elephants would moderate the rogue behaviour in young males, but apparently this was not the case. The young males needed a father figure role model, or else the hormonal youngsters would hang out in gangs and terrorise the other animals.
Of course, the obvious solution to the problem was to ship in some mature bull elephants, and that’s what they did. The problem was resolved within weeks and the young males calmed down and became what they were meant to be.
Wade Horn compares this with the epidemic of fatherlessness around the world, and not just in Western cultures. He sees the obvious similar trend of boys growing up without fathers.
A 2018 Four Corners report from the Australian Broadcasting Commission explored incidences of violent crimes being committed by groups of young Sudanese men in Melbourne which had sparked community fear.
Many of the South Sudanese families in the area were fatherless refugees, as widows with children had been prioritised for resettlement by the government.
In the report, counsellor Dr Santino Deng explained,
“Lacking a male role model in the family is a major contributing factor [to the violent crimes]. Back home, for instance, even if you don’t have a husband in the house, an uncle would be there, other family, other relatives.”
And one mother lamented,
“We are blamed for not taking care of our kids. But they’re not listening to us.”
Unfortunately this is not an isolated example with consistent links between fatherlessness and negative social outcomes.
In a separate report Warren Farrell, who co-authored The Boy Crisis, stated:
Boys with minimal or no father involvement more frequently suffer from an addiction to immediate gratification. For example, with minimal or no father involvement there is a much greater likelihood of video game addiction, more ADHD, worse grades in every subject, less empathy, less assertiveness (but more aggression), fewer social skills, more alienation and loneliness, more obesity, rudderlessness, anger, drugs, drinking, delinquency, disobedience, depression and suicide.
These are very troubling findings that should not be the case in today’s society, where we have so much more knowledge and sophisticated technology, medicine and research to help us live better lives and reach our full potential. Where children can be raised in the best way possible. Where they can become all that they were meant to be.
Nothing can replace a good father for a boy. The second best is a good male role model who is close enough to give quality time.
The park rangers solved the problem very quickly — it was obvious to them. They didn’t need psychological behavioural experts, years of research and study, programs for the young elephants, juvenile justice, re-education or whatever: they just needed to bring back the fathers.
How can we bring back the fathers? How can we teach boys to be men — real men who are able to harness their amazing strength and manly qualities for the good of their families and society?
We are seeing more and more brokenness in the world, especially as we look to America, the beacon of hope and prosperity, where young men are rioting, burning and looting. We need more fathers. We need to put an end to rudderless young men, violently taking their own lives and leaving families bereft and shattered.
We need to encourage fathers and men to take their place as leaders and role models, or else the toxic masculinity bred from fatherlessness and other soul-destroying things such as pornography will take out our boys and men, and the next generation will be poorer for it.
Restore the balance of the herd — bring back the men.
Lost Boys: Bring Them Home is a breakthrough book on the challenges our boys are facing, and the importance of fathers. After I heard Cindy speak, I bought 20 copies to give away. Buy your own copy here. The good news is that Dads4Kids has booked Cindy McGarvie as one of our presenters at the Men’s Leadership Summit, 16-18 July 2021 at Stanwell Tops. Cindy’s message is a breath of fresh air for the men of Australia!
Dr Allan Meyer, founder of the Valiant Man course, is our main presenter at the Summit doing three sessions. Darren Lewis from Fathering Adventures is adding his wisdom on manhood during two sessions. Cindy McGarvie will speak about the Lost Boys on a single session on Saturday. Watch out for the release of early bird prices later this week.
Yours for Courageous Men,
PS: I have long been interested in heroic stories from the two great wars. See my article on Fighting McKenzie here. Recently a friend sent me a short half-hour documentary about the bravery of the Australian chaplains at Gallipoli and on the western front in the First World War. It really is amazing what those guys did. See the Doco below.
[Photo by Museums Victoria