Where have all the real men gone?

Published 10:02 am Tuesday, December 8, 2015

There was no time to savor the moment.

Upon arriving home Friday night, shortly before 11 p.m., and easing into my recliner after covering the championship round of the 10th annual Lt. Nick Brantley Scholarship Basketball Tournament, my mind was busy with thoughts of how much this tournament means to not only keeping Nick’s legacy alive, but how important it has become to developing the next Nick among our young people. Those players, hailing from seven schools stretching from Elizabeth City, to Merry Hill, to Ahoskie, Lasker and Courtland, VA, are hip to the type of young man Nick was before he tragically lost his life while in service to our nation.

That fact was stuck in my mind, as was the fact that this tournament has generated tens of thousands of dollars in college scholarships to these young athletes and to the athletic programs of the participating schools.

But just as my mind was wrapping itself around all the good things that this tournament represents, my cell phone summoned me with a text of some bad news.

There had been a shooting in Ahoskie…as a matter of fact it occurred in extremely close proximity to the rear of the News-Herald office. A person was shot in the arm and taken to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries.

While that fact was bad enough, it was brought to my attention that at least two bullets fired in that shooting had struck the rear of our building. Making matters worse was the fact that one bullet entered our pressroom where 20-plus people were busy at work putting the finishing touches on the Saturday edition of the News-Herald and an edition of the Washington Daily News, one of our sister publications that we print in our production facility.

Luckily, none of our employees were injured, but they were left frightened and emotionally shaken.

Later the same night, bullets flew during a party held at a nightclub on the outskirts of Murfreesboro. There, a 21-year-old Chowan University student was tragically killed….his promising life cut short by a person who chose to resort to violence.

Gun violence is nothing new in today’s world. It was much different when I was growing up. As a matter of fact it was rare to hear of a person being shot in an act of rage. Back then we settled things “man-to-man” by either discussing the problem or situation with an adversary or, in some cases, settling things with our fists.

I can thank my father for teaching me how to defend myself without resorting to life-threatening violence.

The first thing he taught me was how to respect a weapon. I was born and raised on a farm, meaning we had weapons in the house, primarily used for hunting. Before he taught he how to aim a weapon and pull the trigger, I was instructed on how the weapon worked and, more importantly, how to clean it. I can’t recall how many times I’ve “broke down” a rifle or shotgun, laid it out on an old blanket on the floor and carefully cleaned and oiled each part.

The second thing I was taught was how to use my fists, to include how to “bob and weave” to avoid taking a direct blow. An important aspect of that teaching was to never use your fists unless it was absolutely the last resort to a confrontation with an adversary.

I can proudly say that in my 62 years on Earth, I’ve been involved in one fist fight. The now late Michael “Duck” Barnes and I shook hands back in the 6th grade after we bloodied each other’s noses.

So, why must we now resort to gun play to settle our differences? Because there are no real men left in this world like Ray Bryant and others like him.

 Cal Bryant is Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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