Old Men Are Dangerous (5046)

Jim Collison

Today’s Project #CravingEncouragement story comes from Jim Collison. Find him at The Average Guy website. Thanks, Jim for the encouragement, friendship, and support. Jim was one of the very first financial contributors to helping me get the Rode Rodecaster Pro here inside The Yellow Studio.

You’ll hear Jim’s stories at the very end of the episode.


“Old men are dangerous: it doesn’t matter to them what is going to happen to the world.”        – George Bernard Shaw

But old men are dangerous for so much more. It’s not that old men don’t care, it’s that they’ve learned what to care about most. Experience has taught them what matters and what’s irrelevant.

Old men are dangerous because they’re able to teach younger men the things they most need to know. Nobody can teach younger men more than old men. if only younger men would listen and learn. 😉

2019 has been a year focused on the old men in my life. In the spring I lost one. Others are growing weak and frail. Old men have always been very important to me. I’ve lot a handful of them over the years. Old men who taught me a lot, but I know there was so much more I could have and should have learned.

Old men aren’t likely so different from old women. Not when it comes to the resource they are for those who are younger.

Younger is relative. Earlier this year I lost an old man in my life. He was 74. Meanwhile, there’s another old man in my life who is 96 and still going. My dad. That’s a 22-year spread and it makes me wonder when a guy goes from being a young man to a man, then goes to being an old man.

To a 10-year-old boy, a 25-year-old is likely an old man.

To a 25-year-old, a 50-year-old is for sure an old man.

To the 50-year-old…well, old just takes on a very different connotation.

Narrowing down the when is important. After all, old men are dangerous so we have to figure out who the old men are! 😉

I’ll leave that to you to figure out for yourself.

I happen to think old women are just as dangerous as old men. If not MORE so. 😉 So I don’t discriminate. I’m equally fearful.

Being dangerous isn’t restricted to being fearful though. There’s dangerous in a good way. Sorta like the word “bad.” Then there’s dangerous in a terrible way. As in, “That concert was bad.” That means the concert was awful. It can be good. As in, “That concert was bad.” That means the concert was awesome.

Let’s talk about the fearful. I grew up learning fear very quickly. Spanking was how all good kids were brought up. Not beatings. Not abuse. Spankings. I don’t think it was a regional practice either. Rather, I think it was pretty universal born from years of practice sparked by Old Testament (and New Testament) teaching on discipline. “Spare the rod, spoil the child,” and all that. It clearly was a defective form of discipline and training because most of the kids I knew addressed adults as “sir” or “ma’am.” Classrooms were mostly well ordered and teachers, policemen and other authority figures were shown respect by all but the very worst kids. So it was clearly NOT the way to raise and train children.

I mean it’s barbaric really. Better to have every child behaving like a spoiled hellion, smarting off to teachers, flipping off police officers and general showing disdain for anybody who dare suggest he not get his way. Society is greatly improved by our intolerance for any kind of physical discipline to show kids that they are NOT in charge. After all, the kids ARE in charge so let’s treat them that way. Like the royality of all knowledge and wisdom we know them to be. Just like when we were kids, right?

When I was a boy old men were dangerous. Old women more dangerous. You got out of line and few things scared me more than an old man barking out, “Heyah! Heyah!” Hearing that would stop me dead in my tracks because I instantly knew I was caught misbehaving.

Old women would get physical. They’d grab you by the back of your neck or thump you on the head or flick your ear. And that’s if you were lucky! Old women would put up with more than old men in private, but not in public. After all, you were representing not just yourself, but your family when you were out in public. And that meant you’d better represent well. Or else.

Being dangerous can mean a variety of things. Many of them very good. The question can be, “Dangerous for whom?”

When I was 10, old men were either entertaining or dangerous. Sometimes both. Mostly, I steered clear of them. I had already figured out that kids were the bane of most old men. 😉

Will Project #CravingEncouragement Be Cancelled Due To Lack Of Interest?

It’s sure looking like it.

People are reluctant to share their stories. Well, that’s an understatement. They’re refusing to share them. That’s more accurate.

Even though 100% of the people I’ve ever asked declare they fully understand the power of encouragement in their life, many readily admit they can’t really remember the last time they truly offered it to somebody else.

Is encouragement that rare?

Apparently so.

Are stories of times when we were encouraged equally rare. Perhaps.

That’s why we crave it so. We all understand how valuable it is.

Have I shamed you into sharing? Not likely, huh? It’s okay. I’m not judging you. I’m just disappointed because so many of you contributed money to help me get the Rodecaster Pro inside The Yellow Studio. I really wanted to hear your stories, but I’m going to stop begging you to share them. I’m not a big fan of coercion.

If you change your mind you know how to contact me.

I’m an old man.

No matter. I was dangerous as a young man. I’m just growing more dangerous.

Dangerous can be good.

Dangerous can be bad.

Don Cherry is Hockey Night in Canada. Is is 85. Even non-hockey folks likely know Don for his outlandish wardrobe. The guy has ALWAYS been very opinionated and always dressed loudly and sharply.

Within the last week Don shot his mouth off – something he’s been paid handsomely for years to do – but this time it got him in trouble. It got him fired. You can read more about the details here. Then here’s one opinion and a counter opinion.

Old men are dangerous in the sense that we’re liable to say anything. At any time. 😉

We’re “Don Cherry dangerous” once we hit 80. I can’t prove it, but there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence of it in my experience. I’ve talked with old men for the last 35 years about it. They’ve almost all told me, “There’s something that happens after a man hits 80.” These were all men older than me (at the time) who had observed the old men in their lives. They reported noticing marked differences in their old mentors after they got into their 80s.

Easier to spot in others than in yourself. When I speak to old men in their 80s I don’t hear much other than, “I’m not as fast as I used to be.” They mean in every way. Physically. Cognitively. The CPU just slows down. I need to do some homework to figure out what exactly happens around the age of 80. Some men tell me they can’t remember as well as they once did (well, who can?), but they confess it’s sometimes a struggle to find the words to say what they’re feeling or thinking. It’s like the hard drive of their memory is still intact, but they can’t access it as quickly. Sometimes they can’t access it at all.

This time of year I regularly watch ESPN’s College GameDay on Saturdays. Lee Corso is part of the panel. He’s 84. He should join Don Cherry in retirement because it’s been evident for a few years that he just can no longer keep up. During the segment where the panelists pick who they think will win the matchups, Lee sometimes selected teams who weren’t part of the matchup. Kirk Herbstreit does a masterful job of covering for him and helping him without making it obvious or embarrassing, but Lee should retire before he becomes much more dangerous.

I’m sad for Don Cherry. I’ve always found his highly entertaining and very likable. It’s sad for Don’s public life to end like this. I wish it weren’t so. Decades of good snuffed out for no good reason. All because a network overstayed their welcome by giving him such a big, public platform. What do you do though if you’re Sportsnet, Don’s employer when he said what he did about the Canadien veterans? They should have opted him out someway, somehow so the man could ease out of the public broadcasting limelight, dignity intact. Easier said than done with an old man though, right?


Because old men are stubborn. Ridiculously so! And I’d wager Don Cherry has superhero levels of stubbornness. So maybe nothing could be done to protect him from himself. As our local Dallas Stars’ color commentator Darrell “Razor” Reaugh said about him. It’s like putting Archie Bunker on Hockey Night In Canada every week.

It was bound to go bad eventually.

Give anybody enough mic time – even a podcaster like me – and we’re going to make a mistake. I can edit though. If I say something that’s too dangerous to release, I can remove it. Spend time in front of a live mic and the odds of getting into some type of trouble are high unless things are very scripted. This is partly why I so respect these folks who do live sports broadcasting. Guys like Joe Buck.

Even Bob Costas took heat when he came out against the NFL for their idiocy with CTE and concussion protocols. Eventually, his longtime employer NBC figured out a ease him out. By January of this year, Bob quit NBC altogether. Who knows what the details really are, but I know this much. Bob Costas is world-class — in both talent and cognitive ability. He wasn’t an old man except in broadcasting terms. He was in his mid-60s. Right now he’s 67. His replacement, Mike Tirico is 52. Nuff said. That’s 15 years and it’s a considerable age gap in the broadcasting world.

Maybe the point is that verbal old men are super dangerous. And those in front of cameras or behind microphones are especially so. 😀

I plan to go very dark and very quiet by the time I hit 80. That’s why I’m doing so much talking right now. I’ve got to squeeze it all in while I have time.

Breaking News: Don Cherry is going to start podcasting at 85. Good for Don. 😉 Not sure I’d do it, but no matter – I don’t have to because I decided to podcast a few decades back. Now I’ve just to watch myself so I don’t get into trouble!

Jordan Peterson is a 57-year-old clinical psychologist and professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. He caught my attention back in 1999 when his book, Maps of Meaning, was published. Five or six years ago is when I really leaned more into his work because listening to him is vastly more compelling (to me) than reading. That’s not a knock on him, but on me. I just lack the brainpower to keep up. He’s a very dangerous old man though. Thankfully he’s surrounded by some young men who also have hefty grey matter! Guys like Ben Shapiro.

Whether you agree with Peterson’s message or not…there’s no doubt of his danger. He’s intelligent, articulate, logical, thoughtful and skilled at arguing his beliefs and opinions. He’s also willing to say what few others have been willing to say. So even if he provokes enough anger for people to think and more deeply figure things out…that alone is worth the price of admission.

As I’ve watched his popularly soar I’ve figured out that his age and wisdom have helped him. He’s not an angry young man – as many young men are prone to be. He’s seasoned, weathered and even in his indignation of those things he finds atrocious, he’s driven deeply by compassion. Compassion isn’t necessarily considered a young man’s game, but I’ve learned it’s very much an old man’s game!

The crusty curmudgeon is a trite figure. One I don’t find to be mostly true. Yes, they exist. From every age demographic. Young bitter people grow old and become old bitter people. The “get off my lawn” character seen mostly as an old man was the “I’ll kick your @#$” young man. They’re one and the same, except for their age.

Old men are dangerous in part because they have courage. People suppose that’s because they’ve nothing to lose, but that’s foolish. Don Cherry lost a lot. Costas, too. Peterson is risking a lot. So I don’t think the danger presented by old men is because they’ve nothing to lose. And I don’t think their courage is due to that.

Rather, I think they better understand the stakes. They understand – or should understand – better the difference made in some things over others. Old men know what’s important. Young men think they know.

Knowing what’s important drives courage. The tipping point of courage is when knowing what’s important is coupled with strong beliefs about what’s required. Why is Dr. Peterson speaking out with such boldness? Because he has spent years thinking about things deeply and with compassion. Because he has deep beliefs in what’s wrong and what could be done to fix it. He has knowledge coupled with beliefs. Strong beliefs in what can be done to better the human condition.

Old men are dangerous because they understand legacy. Their own. And they’re interested in their legacy. But that sounds too self-centered and most old men aren’t self-centered. I’ve known plenty of old men and old women. The ones who were kind didn’t start being kind when they got old. They were always kind. The ones who were mean and hateful didn’t turn out that way because they got old. They were mean and hateful young people who just got old. So it goes with self-centeredness.

No, the legacy old men feel compelled to create isn’t just for their ability to feel better about themselves (although that’s part of it and there’s nothing wrong with that). It’s largely influenced by wanting to pass it on to the next ones in line. Old men want to be remembered for something meaningful and the wise ones know that’s best done in helping those behind them.

Permit a personal illustration. There’s a little girl at church who gets a Diet Dr. Pepper in a cup, with a lid and straw from me as often as I can make it happen following our Sunday afternoon worship. It all began when she approached me – provoked by somebody, likely her mother – asking if she could have a drink of my Diet Dr. Pepper. Of course, I obliged. Then I gave her the entire thing. I now make it a point to take one to her, even if I didn’t get one wherever we dine out for lunch on Sunday. I’ve remarked to my wife, “I don’t know what she’ll remember or think, but I’m going to make sure her memories of me are fond ones!” Old men think like that. Young men don’t. That makes old men much, much more dangerous!

Old men are dangerous because our time with them is limited. They’re only a renewable resource in the sense that there’s always more old men coming down the pike. They’re non-renewable in the sense that when old men die, they’re gone.

Maybe that’s why old men will say whatever is on their mind. Of course, the danger is often found in an untethered mind resulting in an unfiltered tongue. Which is why I love watching and listening to the banter of really old movies…like The Man Who Came To Dinner with Monty Woolley, who played the leading role of Sheridan Whiteside. I love the rapid banter of these movies. And I rather love the old Mr. Whiteside character.

I was high school when I really fell in love with Winston Churchill. For the same reason. An articulate, intelligent, witty man posed to quickly respond. I’ve always admired it.

Churchill produced history’s funniest insult with a famous retort directed at either the socialist MP (Member of Parlament) Bessie Braddock or the Conservative Lady Astor, the first female MP (the story has involved both). When accused by one of them of being ‘disgustingly drunk’ the Conservative Prime Minister responded: ‘My dear, you are ugly, and what’s more, you are disgustingly ugly. But tomorrow I shall be sober and you will still be disgustingly ugly.’

I was 15 and Deep Purple’s Smoke On The Water was a big deal. That’s how I remember. The year was 1972. Another great year for music, but I digress – as I am wont to do. Steely Dan’s “Can’t Buy A Thrill” came out. Todd Rundgren’s “Hello, It’s Me” (song) was in regular rotation on my turntable. “You Wear It Well” by Rod Stewart and “Rocket Man” by Elton John were dominating the radio. And I was chuckling at a dead Prime Minister of England noted for delivering great speeches. And barbs. Admittedly, I was more fond of the barbs at the time. As I grew older I appreciated the speeches.

True confession: a younger version of me rather looked forward to the time when I could say what I wanted. Yeah, like Churchill. 😀

Speaking of 1972 and old men, Mick Jagger was singing “Tumbling Dice” that year. It was a pretty big hit by some old rock ‘n roll guys. We thought they were old then. They’re dinosaurs now! It’s all relative, right?

Come on. Mick was 29, almost 30 and over the hill when I was 15 rockin’ out to Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out.” Ask any 15-year-old if 29 is old and see how they answer!

But Mick doesn’t count. He’s been dangerous his whole life.

You see the rabbit hole that music creates for me? Okay, back to our regular programming – Old Men Are Dangerous!

Elders were highly regarded in ancient times. In some cultures they still matter, but not in America. Old folks and the dangers they provide – that’s right, PROVIDE – is going away. Not because old men are no longer dangerous, but because younger men don’t care.

Technology has had an impact. It’s forced us to think that anybody who lived in an era prior to the Internet can’t possibly have wisdom, knowledge or insight we can leverage. We assume the world has changed so dramatically that whatever danger they may have once provided…it’s over now! Completely unrelatable to the present condition.

Of course, what we fail to realize is that human beings haven’t changed. In forever. People are the same today as they were at the beginning of time. Tech comes and goes. Master today’s most cutting edge tech and within 10 years your knowledge will be obsolete. Master people – knowing people, understanding people – and ten years from now you’ll only know and understand more. And better!

Then there’s wisdom. Let’s not forget wisdom. Come on, we can’t forget the punch line to this entire podcast!

the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment

You can’t get that first one without putting in the time. Getting old is the trump card of having experience. Smart, sober-minded young men grow older. Eventually, they become smart, sober-minded old men filled with experience, knowledge and good judgment.

Does that sound like a resource? Does it sound a valuable resource?

Yeah, it does to me, too.

Which is why I’ve always leveraged old men. Just a handful of them. I’ve lost 3 very inner circle ones so far in my life. I’ve lost easily that many more in a more outer circle of influence. The 3 I’ve lost were all dangerous in their time. And in their own unique ways. Each was very different in their personality, communication style, viewpoints and talent. But they were all dangerous, which is why I leaned heavily on them. I wanted their danger to one day rub off on me. Well, truthfully I wasn’t waiting for it to rub off…I was doing whatever I could to learn from them.

None were imposing. I mean none of them was so disposed to just take a fellow under his wing, but if that fellow was determined to go under their on his own (and I was), then they were willing to let me. I pushed. I nudged. I made it a point of my life to let them know I wanted to know more, learn more and that I was willing to put in the work. Old men love a younger man willing to pay the price. It’s one of the first lessons I learned about old men. Once I got past being afraid. 😉

An online article entitled – Why saying ‘OK boomer’ at work is considered age discrimination – but millennial put-downs aren’t – appeared at The Conversation. Read it and make your own judgments. Me? I think we’re overrun with “protections” and folks getting their noses out of joint when we could simply embrace a bit of kindness, compassion, and understanding. But what do I know? Clearly not enough.

The real takeaway is the disregard we’re all capable of. In my youth, the phrase “generation gap” erupted onto the popular culture scene. I wasn’t much of a believer that a generation gap suddenly appeared in the 1960s. Even as a child I could tell there were differences in old folks and young folks. We kids were an entire category all to ourselves. Which is why we ate at the card table to ourselves.

Old men allowed kids to be kids…so long as the kids were together. Whenever kids entered the space of old men, then the old men made the rules. It was a brilliant set-up actually. One I often miss.

It wasn’t old men disregarding children. Rather it was an expectation old men had that kids would regard them with some fear, respect and esteem. Guess what? We did. Fear the. Respect them. And esteem them.

Today, I’m often surrounded by nosey kids who refuse to take a backseat to any adult. Rather, the kids are ALWAYS in the spotlight. It wasn’t always that way. Which makes me realize I completely missed out on the limelight, generationally.

When I was a kid, the older folks ruled. Now that I’m an old man, the younger folks rule. It’s like I never got my turn.

Now…I’m even more dangerous because of it.


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