Of Elk And Men

Of elk and men.  The late comedian George Carlin used to have a portion of his act titled “Things you never hear people say”.  He would then rattle off several ironic or silly statements.  My favorite saying he would utter was “Do what you want to the girl, but leave me alone!” The thing that made this so funny was that it was at complete odds with what we used to expect as a society.

Caught On Video

I was scrolling through my Twitter feed the other day when I ran across and interesting discussion taking place.  Someone had posted a video taken in Estes Park Colorado.  The footage showed a bull elk attacking and trying to gore several guests at the park.  You can see the video here:

As scary as this situation was, what intrigued me was the conversation taking place in the feed below the video.  If you watch carefully, you’ll notice that the elk had knocked down and was attacking a woman.  In the wake of the attack, several men close to the woman took off running.  They stood a safe distance away and watched as the woman was charged by the elk.  No one even attempted to come to her aid.

What Were They Thinking?

Understandably, the men in the video were taken to task for not coming to the defense of the woman.  Here are just a few of the comments.  These are the tamer ones.  Several of them contain language that prevent me from posting them here.

“Lots of brave men there!”

“All those men are cowards. A real man would’ve grabbed those antlers and wrestled that elk to the ground while others grabbed the woman to safety. That antler could’ve pierced her heart or something smh.”

“Every man in that video should feel ashamed”

“But the men tho”

“Wow none of the men tried to help the woman. Nothing to be proud about here Colorado men.”

What Do You Really Think?

I’ll just note for the record that all of the comments above came from women.  Why is that significant?  Because these women all seemed to understand that the men in this video had a moral obligation to protect the woman in harms way.  I would agree wholeheartedly with that sentiment.  

But as I was reading the comments, my thoughts went to a quote by C. S. Lewis:

Of Elk And Men

“We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.” —C.S. Lewis

What Do You Really Want?

You see, these men were doing precisely what the culture tells them to do.  Women are no different than men.  Any attempt to help women in distress is characterized as “toxic masculinity”.  How dare a man treat a woman like she has to be rescued?  How dare we assume that the woman needed a man to help her?

These are the things we’re told by society.  And I’ll bet that if you took any one of the women that commented above out of that specific situation and asked them if they thought that women should rely on men to save them, they’d say “No”.  They would probably tow the societal line and say that women shouldn’t rely on men for protection.

What Do Our Gut Reactions Tell Us?

But as so often happens with moral reasoning, the way we react in our unguarded moments tends to show what we really believe.  There is still an expectation that the strong should protect the weak.  Men are still expected to protect women and children.  

Of Elk And Men

And as a note here, I think that had that been a man that was attacked, the other men STILL should have tried to help.  Helping people isn’t limited to those weaker than you.  It applies to anyone that’s in distress.  This is what has been traditionally expected of men.  

This is no longer the expectation though.  And frankly, situations like this are seen as a moral failing.  We have somehow taken the best and noblest actions and flipped the script to where they are now found moral objectionable.  

The Point Of Tension

Francis Shaeffer referred to this phenomenon as “The point of tension”.  You see, as much as we as a society try and get away from traditional morality, we still have to live in the world God created.  This creates the tension we see above.  The tension looks like this:

A. Traditionally men have been seen as strong protectors that should protect those physically weaker than them. 

B. Society now tells us this is wrong. There is no difference between men and women and women shouldn’t expect men to protect them.

C. But when we are confronted with the consequences of living out that philosophy, we are morally repulsed by what we see. 

Of Elk And Men

The deepest flaw in this thinking is assuming that because you accept help from someone or rely on someone for protection, you are somehow less valuable.  This is just nonsense.  Simply because on average one sex is stronger than the other, it doesn’t make the weaker ones less valuable.  Our value as humans is not based on our reliance on, or independence from, others.  Our value lies in our human nature. 

Deep Down We Know What’s Right

The people watching this video get it. As I said, it’s often when we let our guard down that our true beliefs are revealed.  The men in this video should be ashamed.  I don’t know what was going through their minds.  I doubt they were consciously thinking “I shouldn’t demean this woman by helping her”.  But I fear we are creating a society where we can expect to see more videos like this.  We are making a nation of men without chests.  

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