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Three men charged mass shooters, saving lives. We need more of that masculine courage.  1 Week ago

Source:   USA Today  

Three male heroes recently foiled mass shooters by charging them at risk to their lives. Let’s name them: Riley Howell of North Carolina,Oscar Stewart of California and Kendrick Castillo of Colorado. Howell and Castillo, ages 21 and 18, lost their lives; Stewart, an army veteran of 51, was saved. All three were declared heroes and credited with subduing the shooters and saving others’ lives.

Recently too, but before these events, the American Psychological Association issued a statement condemning “traditional masculinity” in our culture — what some call "toxic masculinity" — shown in the violence of school slayings, among other effects. Somehow, however, their statement did not prevent or control these shootings. It took the heroism of nontoxic males to handle the situation, and to do so in a way that made the whole country proud of them and, what’s more, proud of America to have produced such heroes.

America is not a country that aims to produce heroes. Our motto is “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” and we prefer peace and prosperity with liberty to war and empire. We are not a warrior nation like ancient Sparta, which educated its young males to courage in battle. Our education wants to promote honorable and productive occupations for all.  

This education is reflected in the confidence of our psychologists who argue that life is better without risk. They give us pills to reduce stress and advice in “anger management” to stay calm and not react to provocation. For them, courage is not a virtue. Their primary advice for students: Run and hide. Let the police handle this or any other distasteful interruption to normal life. It's too bad that we need them, but they can follow rules of crime suppression and also don’t need courage.

But what does one do before the police arrive? In the Colorado incident, the police came in two minutes but still not in time, not when needed. The law is usually too late to prevent the harm it forbids.

This time, though, Castillo and two other students were able to charge and flatten the shooter, costing Castillo’s life but preventing greater harm. One of the others, Brendan Bialy, said he had a half-second of fear, then “my body moved” as if on its own. Here is an untaught, spontaneous courage, a free act that both exemplifies and serves a free country. Fortunately, he hadn’t taken a pill, nor taken advice to repress his masculinity.

A young woman student at the scene, Nui Giasoli, praised the boys for giving others time to escape. She told reporters she is determined to return to school rather than nurse her fears at home in order to rob the shooter of any satisfaction from his disruption. 

By endorsing the courage of her fellow students, Giasoli spreads its effects to the minds of all. Not just all students but all parents, all citizens of Colorado, all America. America has its ills, but it does not surrender to them.

A free country wants freedom with security for all, but it can never attain perfect security. Its very freedom gives opportunity to abusers, most of them concealed from the law, or so they think. A few, especially those males rightly labeled “toxic,” take pride in the excitement of openly violating the law, perhaps to show how much freer they are than we who obey it. Our best response before the police arrive is to show, by contrast, how we have the spontaneous courage of a few citizens to protect us when no one else is there to do the job.

These few are so far mostly males, though the job is open to any woman who wants it. A woman in Poway, California, Lori Gilbert-Kaye, died by shielding her rabbi. Let the virtue necessary for such actions not be forgotten or demeaned.

With all our modern pills and psychology, it is still necessary in sudden, unavoidable crises, to risk life in order to save life. This is the mystery and magic of courage, the natural virtue of ordinary citizens. For some reason, especially males.

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