“If you don’t initiate a young man into the tribe, he will burn down the village.” - African Proverb
Instead of discouraging manhood and masculinity, it is healthier to challenge boys to become men. The project of feminizing and neutering masculinity has been bad for men, bad for women, and bad for the overall mental health of both. In this case, statistics do not lie. Use of mental health drugs, and mental illness in the US has never been higher for all parties. Boys need to be encouraged to grow into healthy men, channeling their hormonal and intellectual energy and aggression into positive outlets, not stigmatized for being different. Instead, all over the country, young men are being drugged into submission and subjected to incoherent and confusing political correctness re-education courses at universities as well as workplaces, which essentially communicate to them how inherently evil and wrong they are for being who they are. Rather than changing anything for the better, these doomed utopian schemes are making things worse for all of us.
There is an ongoing, concerted, un-scientific, and perpetually revolutionary political effort in America to stigmatize and eradicate the unique characteristics of male psychology, eliminating the only legitimate basis by which men of all races and socioeconomic backgrounds can feel pride in their own human nature. Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker, though himself a liberal in the older sense of the word, in his book “Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature” lambasts and warns about the dangers and naïveté of this way of thinking. At its end point, the demonization of masculinity actually creates outbursts of violence and anti-social behavior, bringing out the opposite of what the re-education project intended in the first place.
The problems with the “blank slate” thinking Pinker refers to are actually part of a larger problem which benignly began in the years of the 18th Century “Enlightenment” era in a much-needed critique against unwarranted and illegitimate authority, but blank slate thinking has gotten out of hand in our current cultural moment. Professor of Philosophy and Political Science at Carleton University, Waller R. Newells in his excellent book “The Code of Man”, describing how masculinity has been made out to be inherently wrong:
“The “cultural construction” (of masculinity) is still the common foe, the common obstacle to progress. But after over 3 decades of precisely this kind of “socialization” of boys to forestall their masculinity, doesn’t it make sense to wonder whether the attempt to repress their natural energies is contributing to “depression and evidence of struggle and conflict” in boys?
Why not, instead, encourage a constructive flowering of distinctively masculine “difference” to parallel what had already been done with such great success for girls? Justice is not a zero-sum game in a society of open opportunity like America. Letting boys be themselves need not endanger the gains made by girls.”
- Code of Man
Throughout most of human history, boys were raised by their mothers to a certain age, and then at that point they went with the men. At that point, boys did what they were expected to do. They did what all the other men did. Men taught the boys to be men. There was no question as to what would happen and no rebellion was possible or tolerated. It was become a man, or be cast aside and possibly killed, or die of starvation as an outcast. Survival for most of human history has been the determining factor in human behavior and this includes the transition from boyhood to manhood. A tribe is only as strong as the weakest link, so everyone in a tribal setting had to play their part, whatever it might be. In a tight-knit group, division of labor is the key to success. You did your job to the best of your ability. You did what you had to do, what you were expected to do, and that was that.
Somewhere around the late 1700s, what economists call the “hockey stick” of economics kicked in and economic growth, income, and the consumer economy exploded. People all of a sudden had more than they ever did. The industrialization of Europe, explained so eloquently by Adam Smith in his “Wealth of Nations”, created a relatively affluent and growing middle class and a huge amount of wealth. The old tribal, communal, and feudal ways of living passed away in Western Civilization as urbanization took root. Industrialization had many effects, including many positive ones, but one major lasting social impact was this:
Industrialization separated men from boys, and I would argue, often times boys from manhood in the formative sense. After industrialization, the road to manhood could be attained, but it was harder to find because the older men were separated from the younger ones and the younger men did not learn from other men what it meant to become a man. Men never spent time alone with other men in segregated settings, as they did in traditional settings, which impeded the development of deep male friendships as well as the maturing of the mentor relationship.
The truth is sometimes difficult to accept. To be a woman, a young girl doesn’t usually have to do anything for people (Men or Women) to value her, except grow up. A woman is valued for different reasons than a man in many ways. For example, most men would be happy to date an attractive woman who was a maid or a line cook at a diner. Most women would not date an attractive man who was a maid or a line cook at a diner. This is a true statement which we are not allowed to say but men and women are different and are valued and treated differently.
We can lie all we want to, but we all know it’s true. Biologically, women are more valuable than men, because one fertile man can carry on the human species if there are many women available. In other words, men are more biologically expendable than women. Note, this doesn’t mean a woman has more moral or spiritual value as a human being, that’s not what I’m saying. My entire health philosophy is based on this one concept:
Men and Women of all backgrounds, races, and religions are created by God and have a life that matters.
What I’m saying is that men and women are different and are often expected to do different things and are valued for different reasons. This is one reason we hear so much about violence against women, rape, and the overseas sex slave trade in the media, and rightly so, but hardly anything about the following:
- 70% of all suicides being men
- Working class wages in jobs traditionally performed by men, being stagnant for 50 years
- Women filing for 2/3 of all divorces
- Wore women than men entering college now
- Boys and young men being 5 x more likely to commit suicide than girls
- Boys and young men being 6 x more likely than girls to have attention deficit disorder
- Boys performing considerably worse in school
- Many more men being imprisoned and executed than women.
- 1 out of 10 people in the State of Georgia being imprisoned, with most of them being men
- 1 out of 31 people in the US being imprisoned, with most of them being men
- The forced labor and indentured slavery of millions of men across the globe in places like China and the Middle East.
Despite the harsh biological and sociological truth, a man’s value and healthy maturity is in at some point leaving boyhood and becoming a man. This implies doing or becoming something different from what boys do.nHaving male anatomy does not make a boy a man. A boy cannot be a boy and a man at the same time. For a boy to become a man, he must do something other than get older.He must become something. He must come to terms with what is expected of him. At the very least, he has to contribute. Most men would say for a boy to be a man, he must even do more than contribute, but at the very least, boys have to learn to become something different than what they were when they were boys. This is not politically correct, or easy for our overly sensitive ears to hear, but it is true.
In the primitive past, boys were literally initiated into adulthood through a religious or tribal ceremony. Some were asked to live naked in the woods for months at a time. Some boys were taken out and dropped somewhere alone to find their way back alive as young Spartan males were in ancient Greece. Others were asked to kill an animal with their bare hands. Some went through elaborate and painful initiation ceremonies. In later years, men were brought up in a defined communal situation, with a set trade, and a set path. How well they stayed on this path determined how good and virtuous of a man they were and would become. At some point though, whether around the fire, on the farm, on the battlefield, or in a religious ceremony, a boy stepped away from his mother, faced his fears and became a man.
When industrialization came, man left the tribe, the community, and the home. He worked away from his son in a factory or an office or a warehouse. The boy did not watch his Father’s craft or understand his Father’s value. The son did not see his father toil. He did not learn from his father. Instead, the boy stayed home with the women and went to school until he was 18 or until he finished school. At school, he learned to read, write, and to do math. He learned to be obedient. He learned to be a good factory worker or industrial manager. But he did not usually learn at school how to be a man.
Separated from Fathers, young men experienced a wounding pain, and were left wandering through the desert, like the lost tribes of Israel. If a boy was lucky, he figured it out on his own or his father or an uncle or mentor taught him after work or when he was there. Philosophers and writers as diverse as Karl Marx, CS Lewis, Robert Bly, and Teddy Roosevelt, have observed this modern phenomena.
CS Lewis, lamenting in Notes on the Way in 1940 about this transition from boyhood to manhood (illustrated through the ideal of the medieval knight in whom there is a balance of compassion and valor) towards a modern valueless, flattened - out, monoculture in which manhood has become a remote and confusing destination:
“The knight is a man of blood and iron, a man familiar with the sight of smashed faces and ragged stumps of lopped-off limbs; he is also a demure, almost a maidenlike, guest in hall, a gentle, modest, unobtrusive man. He is not a compromise or happy mean between ferocity and meekness; he is fierce to the nth and meek to the nth.
Will the ethos of a classless society be a synthesis of what was best in all the classes or a mere pool with the sediment of all and the virtues of none?”
Millions of boys have lived this confusing and valueless formative growing-up experience, devoid of official rites of passage for the last couple hundred years, and each generation finds it harder to find their way. It’s hard to blame the Fathers. They did the best they could in an effort to make a better life for their family. Some of them did a damn good job, but the odds were stacked against them in teaching the next generations.
The industrial and post-industrial Fathers had a foot in two worlds - the old world of initiation, tradition, and reverence, and the new world of materialism, kitsch, and consumerism. In one world, the older one, they knew there was on older code they needed to live by, one they knew they needed to teach their sons the ways of. In the other world, the new world of spreadsheets, orange vests, ice makers, safety meetings, EEO briefings, upgrades, feminism, socialism, capitalism, and sensitivity training, they themselves were lost and confused, grasping for straws to keep up and understand, and at times keep from laughing. So the Fathers have done what they could, most anyway. Credit goes to the many great Fathers out there who did well.
My own Dad like most of us, wasn’t perfect but I love my Dad and admire many things about him and am very thankful for him. The world would be a much better place with more men like him.
Politically incorrect things I heard growing up I am thankful for:
“This is my house, and I make the rules. You follow them.”
“If you want to be a man, you need to become a man.”
“Quitters never win. Winners never quit.”
“Dry it up. Crying isn’t going to solve your problems.”
“Always tell the truth. We don’t lie in this house.”
“If you are ever disrespectful to your mother, you will be punished, trust me.”
“11:01 is late. Curfew is 11:00. No excuses.”
“I could care less if you like me.”
Probably most importantly my Dad taught me, whether he knew it or not, that a woman, or a job, or money does not provide happiness or fulfillment. Those things are nice, but they aren’t the point of life. He also taught me that even though he was not a big person, he wouldn’t put up with any crap and would physically fight back. I was lucky too to have other mentors.
I can remember as a boy, I loved to wrestle, play football, and frankly destroy things and argue. A free day was spent blowing up glass bottles, shooting stuff, chopping down trees, throwing rocks, climbing things, cutting things down, or trying to argue with my parents about things……but why, why why??? I wanted to know why! The more aggressive, the more destructive, as long as no one got seriously hurt, the better. I can even remember us taking a baseball bat as teenagers and hitting stop signs with it just to see if we could knock them off. This seemed perfectly normal at the time. It was normal.
I wanted to be active, all day every day, intellectually and physically, but instead I was asked to sit at a desk and be still with no engagement or physical activity for most of the day, the worst possible scenario for a boy like me. Boys have a LOT of energy. Men in general, even in the modern American era of declining testosterone, have 10-15 times the amount that women have, which means more aggression and more drive. They need outlets for their testosterone and aggression. They need to be physical, especially in the formative years. Of course, there are some exceptions. Some girls are more masculine, and vice versa, some boys are more feminine. But in general, biology does not lie. Boys have a nature, and it needs to be channeled into positive pursuits. Boys need to be taught to be men and use their energy in a positive way, but in a valueless world, it’s hard to state this.
As hard as we try, human nature will never change. A man’s nature will never change. Just ask Aristotle, Shakespeare, Twain, Cormac McCarthy, Hemingway, Dante, John Grisham, or King Solomon:
2 Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
3 What does man gain by all the toil
at which he toils under the sun?
4 A generation goes, and a generation comes,
but the earth remains forever.
5 The sun rises, and the sun goes down,
and hastens to the place where it rises.
6 The wind blows to the south
and goes around to the north;
around and around goes the wind,
and on its circuits the wind returns.
7 All streams run to the sea,
but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
there they flow again.
8 All things are full of weariness;
a man cannot utter it;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
nor the ear filled with hearing.
9 What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there a thing of which it is said,
“See, this is new”?
It has been already
in the ages before us.
11 There is no remembrance of former things,
nor will there be any remembrance
of later things yet to be
among those who come after.
Welcome to a Man’s World
In general American culture has been unwittingly “flattened out” into what is called a monoculture. Instead of people becoming individuals and learning to disagree and come into conflict, our value-less society promotes groupthink and doublethink, better known as mass culture. As an analogy, consider again the Judo training mat: The mat and Judo represents life. Instead of us all agreeing to the rules, the authority, and the goal of Judo (life), and respecting and training and competing together “on the mat- i.e. life” towards us all getting better, we aren’t even able to agree enough to get on the mat to begin with!
Mathew Crawford wrote masterfully about this in his book “The World Beyond Your Head: Becoming an Individual in the Age of Distraction.” People look to “the crowd” to see what type of person they should be and what convictions they should hold. The result is that a type of cultural sameness takes hold, where things flatten out, men and women become more similar, and opinions and tastes from the “masses” about everything from food to music to entertainment to morality converges in the middle. Eroticism, the thing that draws us outside of ourselves towards beauty and towards the “other” to be admired, declines as we are increasingly stuck in our own heads in a stifling way which makes it difficult to appreciate craftsmanship, uniqueness, and real beauty. Men and women, and the natural polarity between the two suffers as a result of this flattening out.
Where do you think bland indistinguishable Top 40 music comes from? Pandora, the popular music app, has an algorithm which can predict exactly what the “masses” will like, and the music companies use this same technology to produce “hits.” That’s why country music now sounds exactly like pop music, with a different accent. It is all generated by computers and marketing companies. Everyone has to be the same, think the same, and cannot stand out, including men from women.
Camille Paglia, the most famous feminist in the world, has even noticed and learned to empathize with the plight of the “flattening” of American culture, which pathologizes masculinity and decreases the natural synergy and complimentary harmony between men and women.
Writing in a 2013 Time magazine article:
If men are obsolete, then women will soon be extinct — unless we rush down that ominous Brave New World path where women clone themselves by parthenogenesis, as famously do Komodo dragons, hammerhead sharks and pit vipers.
A peevish, grudging rancor against men has been one of the most unpalatable and unjust features of second- and third-wave feminism. Men’s faults, failings and foibles have been seized on and magnified into gruesome bills of indictment. Ideologue professors at our leading universities indoctrinate impressionable undergraduates with carelessly fact-free theories alleging that gender is an arbitrary, oppressive fiction with no basis in biology.
Is it any wonder that so many high-achieving young women, despite all the happy talk about their academic success, find themselves in the early stages of their careers in chronic uncertainty or anxiety about their prospects for an emotionally fulfilled private life? When an educated culture routinely denigrates masculinity and manhood, then women will be perpetually stuck with boys, who have no incentive to mature or to honor their commitments. And without strong men as models to either embrace or (for dissident lesbians) to resist, women will never attain a centered and profound sense of themselves as women.
From my long observation, which predates the sexual revolution, this remains a serious problem afflicting Anglo-American society, with its Puritan residue. In France, Italy, Spain, Latin America and Brazil, in contrast, many ambitious professional women seem to have found a formula for asserting power and authority in the workplace while still projecting sexual allure and even glamour. This is the true feminine mystique, which cannot be taught but flows from an instinctive recognition of sexual differences. In today’s punitive atmosphere of sentimental propaganda about gender, the sexual imagination has understandably fled into the alternate world of online pornography, where the rude but exhilarating forces of primitive nature rollick unconstrained by religious or feminist moralism.
It was always the proper mission of feminism to attack and reconstruct the ossified social practices that had led to wide-ranging discrimination against women. But surely it was and is possible for a progressive reform movement to achieve that without stereotyping, belittling or demonizing men. History must be seen clearly and fairly: obstructive traditions arose not from men’s hatred or enslavement of women but from the natural division of labor that had developed over thousands of years during the agrarian period and that once immensely benefited and protected women, permitting them to remain at the hearth to care for helpless infants and children. Over the past century, it was labor-saving appliances, invented by men and spread by capitalism, that liberated women from daily drudgery.
What is troubling in too many books and articles by feminist journalists in the U.S. is, despite their putative leftism, an implicit privileging of bourgeois values and culture. The particular focused, clerical and managerial skills of the upper-middle-class elite are presented as the highest desideratum, the ultimate evolutionary point of humanity. Yes, there has been a gradual transition from an industrial to a service-sector economy in which women, who generally prefer a safe, clean, quiet work environment thrive.
But the triumphalism among some — like Hanna Rosin in her book, The End of Men, about women’s gains — seems startlingly premature. For instance, Rosin says of the sagging fortunes of today’s working-class couples that they and we had “reached the end of a hundred thousand years of human history and the beginning of a new era, and there was no going back.” This sweeping appeal to history somehow overlooks history’s far darker lessons about the cyclic rise and fall of civilizations, which as they become more complex and interconnected also become more vulnerable to collapse. The earth is littered with the ruins of empires that believed they were eternal.
After the next inevitable apocalypse, men will be desperately needed again! Oh, sure, there will be the odd gun-toting Amazonian survivalist gal, who can rustle game out of the bush and feed her flock, but most women and children will be expecting men to scrounge for food and water and to defend the home turf. Indeed, men are absolutely indispensable right now, invisible as it is to most feminists, who seem blind to the infrastructure that makes their own work lives possible. It is overwhelmingly men who do the dirty, dangerous work of building roads, pouring concrete, laying bricks, tarring roofs, hanging electric wires, excavating natural gas and sewage lines, cutting and clearing trees, and bulldozing the landscape for housing developments. It is men who heft and weld the giant steel beams that frame our office buildings, and it is men who do the hair-raising work of insetting and sealing the finely tempered plate-glass windows of skyscrapers 50 stories tall.
Every day along the Delaware River in Philadelphia, one can watch the passage of vast oil tankers and towering cargo ships arriving from all over the world. These stately colossi are loaded, steered and off-loaded by men. The modern economy, with its vast production and distribution network, is a male epic, in which women have found a productive role — but women were not its author. Surely, modern women are strong enough now to give credit where credit is due!
Killing Manhood was A Terrible Idea
The point I am trying to make is that the project to kill masculinity was a bad idea. We want civilization, but how much of our humanity, our masculinity and femininity, are we willing to kill off to get it? Men and women both have their inherent tendencies and weaknesses. Do we all have to be the same and never disagree about anything, or argue? We are encouraging men to be more effeminate, and to be more docile, more tame, and less polarizing and energetic. We’re training men to sit still, be quiet and be good little boys, but is anyone really any happier or healthier? It doesn’t look like it.
A good balance of masculinity and femininity within society is a good thing. But when we push something like masculinity underground for too long, it’s bound to morph into pathological arenas like street gangs, nihilistic and misogynistic music, simulated violent video games, and drug addictions of all sorts. Even porn changes from watching people have sex to increasingly bizarre scenarios where women are defiled in every way possible. The truth is that everything comes with a cost, including our safe civilization we have manipulated and promoted. The more masculinity is pushed underground, and made to seem outdated and outmoded, the more our culture will suffer.
The Way of Men
Jack Donovan, in his polarizing and masterful book, The Way of Men, lays out correctly the primary virtues of manhood. To Donovan, manhood is primarily about survival, because men instinctively value in one another those traits which help the group survive and thrive. A man’s world is primarily about this question:
Who do you want on your team?
It’s really that simple. The 4 primary and 3 theological virtues of Philosophy and Christianity are to me the highest pinnacle of human social life: Prudence, Justice, Temperance, and Fortitude as well as Faith, Hope, Charity, and I believe in these things wholeheartedly, but even these are built on other important survival virtues which predate Christianity. A man’s world is not about what women and children think, it’s about what a man brings to the table in the context of a goal-oriented and well defined group. If you want to understand men, you have to understand this concept.
Donovan lays out what he calls “The Tactical Virtues”:
- Strength - Physical, Moral, Intellectual. Being able to withstand the will of reality and to impose your will on reality.
- Courage - Moral, Physical. Risking your ego and your life and facing your fears.
- Mastery - Being good at something useful. Acquiring skills that you and others find useful.
- Honor - Caring about and living up to what other men think of you.
The interesting thing is that although this list may sound harsh, men tend to recognize effort and character, and men tend to protect the weak and the sick. In the movie “Rudy”, Rudy was the worst football player on the team, but the men loved Rudy because they saw in him what a man should be- strong, courageous, masterful, and honorable. Men want men like Rudy on their team, regardless of how good of a player he is.
So what sounds like a “survival of the fittest” array of virtues at first glance is primarily about group teamwork, tribalism, and knowing who you can count on. It’s about doing your part for the team and recognizing virtue in other people. The smaller man, the more artistic man, the sensitive man, and the intellectual man has a place at the table too. I can relate to and empathize with these types of men. There always has been and always should be a natural affinity between the monk and the knight. These tactical virtues would be admirable in any culture at any point in history, no doubt about it.
Strength, courage, mastery, and honor are the backbone of any healthy expression of masculinity. On an interesting side note, Donovan himself is gay and rightly points out that men don’t usually have a problem with gay men, it’s the fact that some gay men flaunt their “out-group” status that men don’t like. Again, it goes back to the team. Who do you want on your team? If a man flamboyantly advertises that he is not going to be a team player, he's not going to be liked. Which men are team players? A Man’s world is about the team, the tribe, and the group. It has to be that way because that is what life is about - relationships. If you are on every team, then you are really on no teams, so to have real relationships you need to be on the team.
When it comes to marriage the same could be said. What does each party bring to the table? Many men are looking at the “team” aspect of marriage, and sizing up how this team is going to work. Men are shamed into “manning up” and marrying women who are like them. But what if men who don’t marry are making rational choices to stay single, travel, play sports, socialize, and hang out with their friends, and become renaissance men, instead of marrying? What if they don’t want to marry someone just the same as them? Many modern men are asking, what’s in it for me, just like women began to do with the feminist movement a generation ago.
I can’t blame women for wanting more opportunities but I also can’t blame single men either. The question is, if women want to be more like men, why should men want to marry them? What does a marriage bring to the table? Instead of men who don’t marry being shamed and criticized, I think we should be asking: what’s in it for both parties and how can we work together? I’m single and that’s what I ask myself. I definitely don’t want to marry a man.
The older generations worked together in a marriage partnership model. Division of labor was what you got in a marriage. Women rejected this, because they wanted the freedom to do what they wanted to do. I can’t blame them. But now men are doing the same thing. We have come full circle and now over 1/4 of the country lives alone and marriage and fertility are in a huge decline. We have more women than ever doing well, by economic standards, and more women than ever taking mental health drugs. The pharmaceutical companies are very happy about this development, as they’ve made billions by this supposedly “chemical imbalance.”
Since there are no “set roles” men and women have to play anymore, is it time for those who want to voluntarily get back to selecting roles and doing them the best they can? Time will tell but my hope is that we can all see that we can make compromises and make things better. The wealthy in America have lobbied hard for these social changes which have taken place but largely don’t participate in them. In wealthy marriages, the large majority of the time the man is the traditional breadwinner and the woman is focused more on home and family life.
The demonization of masculinity has had the biggest effect on black families. Since the 1960s, the black family has been completely eliminated and social dysfunction has skyrocketed. Instead of adopting Booker T. Washington’s advice of earning respect, black men and women have latched on to government programs and unwittingly destroyed their society, with the help of well-meaning big-government utopians, adopting a nihilistic social model along the way.
A generation ago, when men were taught to be men and taught exactly what that meant, women were treated better by men than they are now. Men used to be expected to be kind and courteous to women. Now men respect women less than they ever have. Turn on the radio or listen to any popular music if you don’t believe me. At a recent Hillary Clinton rally, with Clinton herself an avowed feminist and supposed leader of women, she appears arm-in-arm onstage with rapper Jay-Z who is famous for many explicit and lewd songs including the hit “Big Pimpin”. There could not be a better example of the culturally destructive nature of the supposed effort to help women at the expense of men than this song. Older generations of men would not have tolerated this attitude towards women.
* Warning, the following song “Big Pimpin” has quite a bit of profanity.
From Jay-Z’s “Big Pimpin”:
It's big pimpin baby
It's big pimpin, spendin G's
Feel me uh-huh uhh, uh-huh
You know I thug em, fuck em, love em, leave em
Cause I don't fuckin' need em
Take em out the hood, keep em lookin' good
But I don't fuckin' feed em
First time they fuss I'm breezin'
Talkin' bout, "What's the reasons?"
I'm a pimp in every sense of the word, bitch
Better trust than believe em
In the cut where I keep em
'Til I need a nut, 'til I need to beat the guts
Then it's, beep beep and I'm pickin' em up
Let em play with the dick in the truck
Many chicks want to put Jigga fist in cuffs
Divorce him and split his bucks
Just because you got good head, I'm a break bread
So you can be livin' it up? Shit I
Parts with nothin', y'all be frontin'
Me give my heart to a woman?
Not for nothin', never happen
I'll be forever mackin'
Heart cold as assassins, I got no passion
I got no patience
And I hate waitin'
Hoe get yo' ass in
And let's ride, check em out now
And let's ride check em out now
Or more telling even, watch movies from the 1950s compared to now, when there was a sense of chivalry and mutual respect. It wasn’t perfect by any means back then, but every change of supposed “progress” comes with a tradeoff. Nature abhors a vacuum and energy never dissipates, it only changes form. The state of manhood in America has never been worse. For men, it’s time to take a step back and look at the big picture. It’s time to go Meta. We have no war to fight, no enemy charging right at us with bayonets in hand. Where then is the battle?
Ours is a spiritual battle, a battle for the truth, a battle for the very soul of man. Men in England, men in Jordan, in America. Men in Japan, Australia, and Cleveland. This is a war of men against materialism, meaninglessness, nihilism, cynicism, and against soullessness.
“I see in the fight club the strongest and smartest men who've ever lived. I see all this potential and I see squandering. God *&*% it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables, slaves with white collars, advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of the history man, no purpose or place, we have no Great war, no Great depression, our great war is a spiritual war, our great depression is our lives, we've been all raised by television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires and movie gods and rock stars, but we won't and we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very very pissed off.”
― Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
Life is confusing. Most people in our culture have stopped even saying the word “man” and now say “guy”. People are afraid to say anything for political correctness. The young men I mentor have little or no direction in their lives. What the world needs is a strong bond between men, and a spiritual and moral and philosophical journey to healthy manhood. We need churches, trades, clubs, identities, religions, and philosophies. We need fraternity, solidarity, and meaning.
Where a man's wound is, that is where his genius will be.
- Robert Bly
A few years ago, I ran into a young former prisoner I had mentored in a health and wellness program I started at the Atlanta Transitional Center on the street in downtown Atlanta. He stopped on the sidewalk and called out my name. We shook hands. He didn’t make a lot of eye contact because of the big gap between his teeth he still had. He told me there on the street that they had all looked forward to me coming every week to teach my class.
I like to think that a bit of my teaching, education, and encouragement set this now gainfully employed and healthy man on the right path. Regardless, every man needs mentors on his life’s journey. Again, I am fortunate to have a few. The men I have always admired most were all different but all had one thing in common: Courage. Courage to speak freely, live freely, and to recognize and submit to a greater authority than themselves.
A man is morally free when, in full possession of his living humanity, he judges the world, and judges other men, with uncompromising sincerity.
- George Santayana
I want black men to get in touch with their African roots. I want them to beat on African drums for hours at a time. I want Native American Indian men to sit in sweat tents and study their history. I want European men to read Cicero and Aristotle and the Apostle Paul. I want Fathers and Sons to work together, with their hands and with their brains. I want men to be proud of who they are and where they come from, whether it’s the Middle East, Canada, or my hometown of Scottsboro, Alabama. Wherever they’re from I want men to be healthy, proud and free.
For my men and for my women readers, and I know there are plenty of good women out there, and plenty of good men, I have some wisdom I've gained over the years. If you as a man want to live a healthier and more meaningful life, or if you want to help the men in your life, your sons, your brothers, your husbands, and your friends, live healthier and fuller lives, these are my recommendations:
- Remember life well never be perfect, because human nature is tragic. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Human nature is something that will always be with us. We have better technology and this has brought us more wealth, but people themselves have never changed and never will change.
- Every man, and every person, must come to terms with his own death. The ultimate human dilemma, death, must come to us all. Some can try to deny this but it is better to live with courage and face down our fears instead.
- Love and respect. All men are not the same and all women are not the same, but I think in general men crave respect and women crave love. There is a good book by that name, Love and Respect. Respect men and expect a lot out of them and most will live up to it.
- Set boundaries for yourself and for others. Live by a code. Have rules and try to follow them. When you get off track, get back on.
- Understand that people will try to manipulate and shame you at times into doing what they want you to do. We don’t live in a time of a monolithic moral narrative. Don’t let political correctness or any authority you don’t trust to control you. There is a strong place for authority but choose wisely.
- The world will not reward you for being nice. Be nice if you want to, but don’t expect to be rewarded for it. Be honest instead and never apologize for being who you are.
- Remember we are living in a world “After Virtue” and create your own virtuous world through: Community, Trade, and Narrative. This is a big one, and references Alisdair Macyntire’s seminal work “After Virtue.” If you want to be a virtuous man at the end of your life, realize that this will not happen naturally. You need to do it consciously:
- Community- Find a well-defined community and live in it. Contribute and recognize others for their contributions.
- Trades or Practices- develop mastery in an area of work or skill. Learn from a mentor. Examples would be welding, accounting, martial arts, fly fishing, writing, real estate investing, etc.
- Narrative- choose a religion, or a moral philosophy by which you are involved and committed fully.
- Bring back rites of passage and spiritual / religious pilgrimages.
An old Arab proverb says:“A man without a past doesn’t have a future.”
I believe this is true. Men of all backgrounds and cultures should appreciate where they came from.
- Become a boot-strapping entrepreneur and think of yourself as a corporation, even if you work for someone else. Promote yourself, develop skills, network, read, learn, start a small side gig.
- Make time to be friends with God. Your life will be better, healthier, and more meaningful. Walk outside and look at the stars. It's an amazing world we live in.
- Realize status is slavery and refuse to play a game you can’t win. I underlined this one because it’s probably the most important one. More men are made miserable by this mistake than any other. You can never win the status game. Once you get this car, or that house, or that suit, you will want another better one. Those things are fine but that’s not what matters.
- Become a renaissance man. In so many ways, it’s a great time to be alive. The freedom we have as men allows us to do all sorts of things that generations of other men would not have been able to. Paint, write, travel, read, dance, play a sport, hunt, fish, write poetry, learn to play an instrument, go to classical music, Nascar races, and football games. Smoke a nice cigar.
- Fitness is great for everyone, whether naturally athletic or not. Physical activity is the greatest drug ever invented. We can’t all be great athletes but we can all enjoy the great outdoors, swim, or hike. Be creative but keep moving and get fit.
- Identify mentors or men from the past who you want to be like and emulate them. Read history. Honor your ancestors. Pay homage to the saints and to the dead. Find people you want to be like and learn from them.
- Become a balanced man: temper your manly virtues with compassion and patience. Some men are more aggressive and can tend to be ruthless. Temper everything you do with mercy.
- Stop caring what other people think of you. It’s obviously good to be self-aware and not be a dunce, but stop trying to please everyone.
- Be disciplined and have goals. The two biggest mistakes I see young men making is not having enough discipline and not having goals. Set a goal and follow through.
- Practice Asceticism. Fast. Refrain. Sit in silence. Meditate. Pray. Save your money. Eat at home. Turn off the TV. Go walk in the woods solo. Become comfortable with solitude and discomfort. Take a break from technology or alcohol.
- Face your fears. What are you afraid of? I HATED public speaking, but I got over it. Face up to what you need to do.
- Be willing to die. To your ego, and in general. Be ready. Who do you want to be when you die? As the Apostle Paul said:
“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.” 2 Tim 4:6
- Spend time alone. Being by yourself forces you to take an inward spiritual journey. What are you obsessing about? What tapes are running in your head? What comes up? What wounds need to heal? What mistakes have you made? What do you need to improve at?
- Be willing to leave home. So many people come from dysfunctional, abusive, or controlling homes. Sometimes it’s good just to leave.
- Remember, your woman, your job, and your money will never make you completely happy and fulfilled. We all need more than these things to be fulfilled. One reason religious people tend to be happier in marriages is that they have God at the center of their relationship, instead of each other, which infuses grace into the situation.
- Come to terms with your Father. Every man must come to terms with his Father and accept things the way they are and make peace with the situation. Grace is the key to this and many other things. We are all here for some reason, and on the journey to healthy living, we need to see things humbly as they are.
- Get out of debt. If you have debt, you are a slave. Harsh, but true.
It’s my sincere wish and desire for all men and all women to live in peace, happiness, and fulfillment. I hope that each man and woman’s path through life is lived with integrity and honesty. It takes some vulnerability and courage, but the journey is worth it. There’s room enough in this world for all kinds of people from all different background and persuasions. I want women to be the best women they can be and men to be the best men they can be.
To close, enjoy one my favorite poems, which speaks more eloquently than I ever could about a man’s life:
Harp Song of the Dane Women
By Rudyard Kipling
“The Knights of the Joyous Venture”—Puck of Pook’s Hill
What is a woman that you forsake her,
And the hearth-fire and the home-acre,
To go with the old grey Widow-maker?
She has no house to lay a guest in--
But one chill bed for all to rest in,
That the pale suns and the stray bergs nest in.
She has no strong white arms to fold you,
But the ten-times-fingering weed to hold you--
Out on the rocks where the tide has rolled you.
Yet, when the signs of summer thicken,
And the ice breaks, and the birch-buds quicken,
Yearly you turn from our side, and sicken--
Sicken again for the shouts and the slaughters.
You steal away to the lapping waters,
And look at your ship in her winter-quarters.
You forget our mirth, and talk at the tables,
The kine in the shed and the horse in the stables--
To pitch her sides and go over her cables.
Then you drive out where the storm-clouds swallow,
And the sound of your oar-blades, falling hollow,
Is all we have left through the months to follow.
Ah, what is Woman that you forsake her,
And the hearth-fire and the home-acre,
To go with the old grey Widow-maker ?
Sources and Recommend Readings
- The Way of Men by Jack Donovan
- Code of Man by Waller Newells
- The Holy Bible, ESV
- The Art of Manliness by Brett Mackay
- The Way of the Superior Man by David Deida
- Wild at Heart by John Eldridge
- Iron John by Robert Bly
- The Eclipse of Man: Human Extinction and the Meaning of Progress
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