OPINION – Now that a portion of the football-watching public has apparently discovered the capacity for moral umbrage, those making a stand by refusing to watch the NFL will have some time on their hands.
I have some suggestions as to how their newfound discretionary time could be put to productive use. Whoever came up with the saying “Ditch the man cave, bring back the study” has the right idea.
To grasp the opportunity before us, we must first distinguish between the two.
The modern man cave is typically little more than a playroom for grown children. Big screen TVs, pool and gaming tables, posters, sports shrines and entertainment-centered goodies are the norm.
There a man can temporarily escape the responsibilities and demands of being a husband and father and indulge his ego and simple desires. Given that we all can use some occasional decompression from the demands of life, it’s easy to understand why the man cave has become a status symbol.
Where the man cave falls short is its inability to promote any measurable degree of self improvement. It’s goal is to entertain us, distract us and shield us from the cares of the world. What begins as a harmless retreat from stress can morph into a kind of fortress that isolates us from the people and influences that should have a place in our lives.
This can translate into missed opportunities to build and strengthen families ties because we’re too busy indulging our own selfish desires. It’s a place better suited to the whims of a large boy than it is to a man.
On the other hand, a study is a respectful, private environment where a man can also temporarily detach from the cares and demands of life, albeit in a more productive way. A typical study has historically included shelves of good books, a desk on which to write, comfortable places to sit and read, soft but adequate lighting and peace and quiet.
A man’s study was an accurate reflection of the word “study” in that it provided an environment in which a man could devote time and attention to acquiring knowledge, especially by means of books.
Time spent examining one’s knowledge, grappling with new ideas and actively thinking about truth is the fertile soil in which self growth takes place. This means a person who engages in this type of learning becomes better informed and a more capable thinker.
These qualities, in turn, carry over into a man’s personal life, his family life, his faith, his work and his citizenship within the community.
A proper study should be understood as a place of inspirational solitude. It’s where a person can retire to read, write and think about the people and ideals that motivate him to live up to his best qualities.
Ideally, the study is a place where every member of the family can learn to appreciate the value of using leisure time wisely.
Contrast these benefits with what happens within a man cave, where the individual is passively entertained by a big screen or devotes large amounts of time and energy to pursuits that idolize recreation with no corresponding personal growth.
The call for a return to the study over the man cave is not an attack on entertainment. It’s a call to more carefully prioritize how we spend our free time and to recognize how many of us are in thrall to modern bread and circuses.
There is a difference between the kind of individuals who earnestly study and write about what they learn and those who’d rather build personal shrines to their one true hobby. At some level, if we’re not serious about bettering ourselves, we’ll have little to offer the world in terms of authentic improvement.
It’s the difference between going through life as a spectator and finding the confidence to take our place on the field.
As divisive and passionate as the debate has been over dissenting NFL players, the clear silver lining is that a number of former fans are finally ready to put down the remote and find something constructive to do with their time.
Plenty of folks know that they’re angry but would be hard pressed to explain why this is so. Instead of shouting bumper sticker slogans at one another, they might instead find it empowering to understand which principles are at stake and why.
The ability to discern between things of substance and contrived outrage would also save them time and effort.
In a world where the latest, greatest whiz bang technological marvels are always just around the corner, getting people to rediscover the value of personal study may be a long shot. If even a fraction of the disaffected football fans begin to understand what they’ve been missing, it would be a huge improvement.
Bryan Hyde is an opinion columnist specializing in current events viewed through the lens of common sense. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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