In college I used to say that the highest compliment I could give a man was to call him a "gentleman," yet I think at the time I didn't even realize how much weight that word really carried.
Lately the news has been full of stories about the problems with men today. There seems to be this culture of violence and entitlement that contains terrible temptations at every turn.
Actually, it's not just lately. It seems like all my life I've read articles and seen books about how schools are failing boys, how television and video games are desensitizing boys to violence, how the internet brings poisonous websites just a click away.
I'd heard about all those things for years, but none of it really sank in until now, when I suddenly found myself with a little boy to raise—a sweet, innocent, incomprehensibly beautiful little boy, whose mind and soul and moral formation are under my protection for the next 18 or so years.
It feels a little overwhelming when I think about raising a son in today's world—although who am I kidding, it's never been easy to raise a child of either sex at any stage in world history. But something about the culture we live in now has me especially concerned about shepherding my boy's future.
When I think about him growing up, I realize that what I want my son to know is the importance of being gentle. Any jerk can bully his way through life, but it takes a good man to practice courtesy and empathy and compassion—to fight for the vulnerable and lend strength to the weak.