I am looking forward to seeing you grow into a fine Man. And part of that means making sure that I raise you to understand what masculinity is, and how to live in harmony with the impulses and drives that are part of being a Man. Masculinity comes with power, and it requires temperance and responsibility.
The male body is an incredible machine, and the mind even more so; if they is used irresponsibly they can do incredible damage, either through incredible harm to the living things around us – or recklessly bringing new lives into the world. In the earliest days of our species, a single rogue boy could cause enough mayhem to doom his entire clan to starvation, and so since the beginning we have had to teach boys how to use their bodies and their minds wisely, and for both their good, and the good of their community.
That is why we have always drawn a strong line between men and boys. The sex of your body makes you a boy, but learning wisdom, integrity, honour, and discipline make you Man: someone who can be relied upon, who can lead, who can be trusted to take care of his children.
In the past century we have lost a lot of our culture around what it means to be a Man – and it has badly harmed our civilization. After the World Wars, we didn’t just stop trusting governments and ideologies, we stopped trusting everything our culture taught us – both the good and the bad. We saw so many young men sent to their death in senseless wars because they thought it was a “Man’s duty”, and rather than look at the senselessness of the wars, and blame corrupt governments (or the very idea of Nations), we blamed Manhood.
The results have been disastrous. Men stopped raising their sons, especially in poor communities. Some chose not to act the role of father because they no longer believed fathering to be important, or because the trauma of the wars made them doubt that raising sons to be Men was a kindness. Others because the people who demanded we change society, including masculinity created laws and government programs that drove men out of the home. In turn their sons have learned less empathy and less discipline. We now have three generations of boys who have been separated from their fathers. They look to gangs, to media idols, or to snake-oil salesmen as replacements – which are poor substitutes indeed.
Without learning how to be responsible, moderate Men, many boys of these generations have turned to crime – and our prisons are bursting with fatherless men. Others have run away to drugs, alcohol, or video games to escape a world that doesn’t make any sense to them, and doesn’t make them feel welcome. There are minds the calibre of Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King, Dale Carnegie, and Mark Twain who never went into Science, Leadership, Business, or Art, because they never had a good male role model teach them to be bold and to make a place in the world for themselves.
But it is worse than just the waste to us. After all, we as a culture, are not entitled to their productivity. If we want Men to participate, they need to feel welcome and see stepping up to contribute as a good deal. But there is a personal cost, too. There are needs, drives, and instincts in us that we need to direct. If we direct them well, we become happier and healthier. If we leave them to their own devices, instead we wind up miserable, unhappy and unhealthy.
For example – the male body and mind crave respect. A healthy Man learns to get Respect by giving it to others, by treating other people with dignity, by being a leader in his community, and giving back to his community more than he receives from it. But a male who is raised without a positive picture of what it is to be a Man man not even understand what respect really is:
He might mistake envy of his status for respect, and do anything for the money to dress nicely, have an expensive car, and show off his wealth – including doing dishonest business, stealing, or working sixty to eighty hours a week. But his obsession with money leads to screwed-up priorities. his relationships are going to be shallow where he has them at all. He will worry about appearances to the point of feeling sick if he gets a little embarrassed. Status-obsessed men are usually deeply anxious about what other people think. And those sixty-hour work weeks will slowly ravage his body. For what? He’s not going to be buried in his Porsche, and he can’t keep up with fashion inside a coffin.
Or he might mistake fear for respect – a common mistake. One that will lead him to become a bully who delights in making other people afraid and powerless, so that he can enjoy feeling something like the respect he might have enjoyed if he were a whole Man. He will end up a abusive husband if he can find a woman who will have a relationship with him at all, and have children who resent his authoritarian parenting. He will always be afraid that someone he bullies will lash out at him – for good reason; many bullies only stay bullies until someone hits back hard enough. His anger will slowly kill him with heart disease and stomach ulcers. Not to mention that he will be at very high risk of alcoholism.
Both to meet a need of the male body and mind – insufficiently. A Man raised by caring Men knows better. He earns his respect easily and does good for the people around him in the process.
I have made it my mission in life to help men who have not had the kind of upbringing and role-models they need to become better, happier Men. To help them become the kind of men who command respect, who are leaders, and who make a difference in their community.
And I hope that will translate into raising you to become the best Man you can be.