Young men are in serious trouble. A simple Google search of the words “young men in crisis” will yield a plethora of results.

For example, The American Mind reports that over “60 percent of the country’s young men are now single; that’s nearly twice the rate of single young women. Males are now responsible for 80 percent of suicides, according to the CDC. Every 13.7 minutes, somewhere in the U.S., a man takes his own life. The masculinity crisis is real, and it’s getting worse.”

Countless other media headlines concur. “Why are young men in America failing to launch?” asked Deseret News. “What’s the Matter with Men? echoed The New Yorker. “American boys and men are suffering,” Salon declared. Medium, The Hill, Time Magazine, and National Review, among many more, ran similar stories. Each said basically the same thing: men aren’t pursuing women. They’re isolated, depressed, discouraged, and angry. They’re aimless; confused; unambitious. Young men are in crisis.

Everyone seems to have their own idea of why the online “manosphere” is in such a mess—and how to fix it. Part of the problem with our discourse, however, is that we tend to talk about young men; not to them. We make them the topic of paid subscribers-exclusive New York Times op-eds. Two-thirds of the NYT’s generally affluent subscribers have annual incomes of at least $75,000. If you really think troubled young men are reading David Brooks’ column for advice, think again.

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There is no one solution to the masculinity crisis (nor is there a single root problem). However, if I may propose a solution (by no means a perfect one), I would recommend that young men need heroes and mentors. And not just any hero. I certainly don’t mean the strongest man at the gym or your video game-addicted roommate. I mean we need heroes with proven track records, whose lives are admirable and in order, and who inspire us to be better. This won’t single-handedly fix the crisis, of course, but rather than simply give well-to-do, college-educated elites something to scratch their heads about, it gives young men—the actual victims of the crisis—something to do; a part to play in the ending of their own crisis. If we want men to succeed, it’s time for us to challenge them to do just that.

Over two parts, I have laid out five heroes for today’s boys and young men, beginning with one’s:

Father and/or grandfather

I understand that not every man has a father or grandfather in his life (or a good relationship with them). Unfortunately, the privilege of having a father in the home is rapidly disappearing.  But, if at all possible, a young man needs a respected male relative in his life. If you’re lucky enough to know your dad and/or granddad, don’t waste that opportunity.

Studies show that when fathers are involved in the home, children are 80% less likely to spend time in prison. On the other hand, 71% of high school dropouts, 90% of homeless youth, and 63% of youth suicides come from father-absent homes. Regardless of your age, having a good relationship with your father is, indeed, a privilege. Make the most of it. Learn from him. Appreciate him. In a world of chaos, do everything in your power to ensure your relationship with him stays stable.

2. Mentors

Young men also need mentors and role models from outside their families. A man who has been happily and faithfully married for at least ten years, attends church with his kids, provides for his family, and maybe even runs his own business would be a good candidate for this role. The point is to pick someone successful, someone you can emulate.

Go out and get steaks. Come prepared with questions. “How did you meet your wife?” “When did you know that she was the one?” “How have you been successful in business?” “What advice would you give a young man like me?” Don’t settle for small talk about the MCU; probe the higher things of life, from politics, family, and religion.

Young men, in particular, tend to think that they are invincible. You’re not. You also don’t know nearly as much as you think. Don’t be too proud to learn from a man who actually knows what he’s doing.

Again, this won’t instantly cure you of the four-strand scourge of isolation, depression, discouragement, and anger that plagues modern men, but if more of us would get outside of our shells and sit at the feet of those who, having mastered themselves, have conquered the world and are not under its feet, it certainly would go a long way.

Jakob Fay is a staff writer for the Convention of States Project, a project of Citizens for Self-Governance.

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