Why Are Men Great ‘Til They Have to Be Great?

Every time I hear that song on the radio I’m shocked. It’s such a profound and honest question that gets at the heart of what so many of us experience that it just seems impossible that society would let it be so plainly said.

A thing that struck me when I went back to Illinois is just how openly everyone assumes Trump’s an idiot. Like, even in deeply rural red Illinois, everyone seems to share the baseline assumption that dude sucks. This isn’t to say that folks might not still vote for him again–things are stupid and complicated–but you can just openly talk about how much you think he’s a dumbass and everyone nods along. Even if they don’t agree, they don’t object.

The thing that bugged me about that, though, was how I had this discomfort with it–even though I wholly agree–because I thought “You can’t say things like that publicly.”

And I worry that this is a way living in the South has changed me, perhaps made me more timid

But, frankly, I am afraid. In this particular moment, not in general. And I do worry that having the wrong opinions could get you in trouble and that the trouble it could get you in is growing worse.

I always have been kind of a coward, but we have to be great now and I don’t think I can be. Why am I great ’til I have to be great?