Manhood has become just as novel an ideas as cowboys are to the west. Somewhere along the line of our life, we have forgotten the fact that being a man of true character is not a mythical idea, but a reality that desperately longs to be stirred from its deep societal slumber. It’s asking, begging for some to answer its call and remind those around them that they, too, can rise to the challenge of manhood.
What does it mean to be a man? I’ve heard an author describe it as simply having a penis. However, I believe there is much more required to truly consider oneself a man. One must liken the term to that of “Lady” in order to gain the proper understanding; a lady is a concept quite different than the definition of being a woman. Being a man and being male are two completely separate identities, each with a different set of expectations and obligations.
I’ve wanted to do written series on manhood for quite some time, and here’s the attempt of something that I hope may flesh out the idea of being a man, for the benefit of others but also myself as I rediscover and challenge many elements I feel are personally lacking in my life. Let’s begin.
Recently, I was watching a local news story about a courageous woman who had defended the cash register at her corner store from an attacker who attempted to rob the store, armed with a knife. He first pushed her aside and then proceeeded to empty the contents of the cash register into a bag. Watching the replay of the security camera, you see the woman violently lunge towards the robber and tackle him to the ground. Their struggle continued out the doors of the store until police arrived to apprehend the man.
Here’s the kicker:
There were two witnesses, both male, who gave firsthand accounts of the vicious attack and courage displayed by the female cashier. They described the awe and respect they had for such a brave woman. Looking at the video footage, one of the witnesses watched the entire scene from the inside of the store, where the attack first happened, and the other actually watched as both people struggled on the ground, right in front of him, outside of the store.
Neither one of them did anything to help.
To shy very clear from the notion of sexism, I’d like to make it quite clear that I could care less whether or not the courageous store clerk was a man or a woman. The problem occurs that two males simply stood by, watching a very clear struggle against a robber and a store clerk, and did nothing to physically assist the clerk to help stop the robbery.
If we are ever going to discover what it means to be a man, we must accept the fact that there are some universal truths for manhood that must be accepted. Having a large F-350 truck is neither universal, nor does it make one a man. However, principles and moral truths are capable of standing tall and being universally accepted, regardless of what’s parked in your garage. In this instance, the universal truth I’d like to extract is the notion of doing the right thing at all times. I cannot think of any circumstances where it would have been wrong for either one of those men to have assisted the woman with the robber attacking her.
Possible explanations for why a man wouldn’t consider helping may be the idea of dependents; the man may have had children. To this I respond with the same question: What if the woman had children? Something tells me a woman working a job at a corner store may not have full health benefits, and to be injured (mentally or physically) by a robber could place her in a predicament where she’d be unable to take care of her children. Regardless of whether or not she has children, she was somebody’s daughter, friend, and neighbor. Regardless of our direct dependents, we are constantly surrounded by those around us who care for us.
Whether it is jumping in to help a distressed human being, or returning the extra change at the register, I believe a universal truth for being a man (and in general, but let’s stick to the topic, champ) is doing the right thing first, with thought of personal security, reputation, and well-being being placed in a secondary seat to doing the right thing.
What sickens me about our society is that the real men have been smeared and slandered by 20+ year-old boys who haven’t taken the initiative to grow up. Rather than being men of character, these boys are more concerned with the latest sports news, woman to have sex with, joke to tell, or video game to play. We have grown more comfortable surviving off of our primal instincts, rather than walking and living as human beings, capable of developing ourselves into upright individuals who live for something other than our own selfish wants.
My challenge is to ask yourself what you’ve done to separate yourself from the pack. Are you a man (or woman, but I don’t quite understand that gender fully…thus I’ll avoid blogging about the unknown!) who has felt a void in his soul that says you may be falling short of your potential? Do you have a dicey family history that you are doing your best to change with the opportunity you’ve been given by living?
As for me, I’m interested in finding others who are interested in bettering themselves through daily discipline, personal accountability, goal setting/sharing/meeting, and pursuing a better relationship with their maker.
I don’t believe we can change the world. I really don’t. However, I do believe we can change the world that is around us. And when we live up to our calling of excellence and live the way we were meant to, on a grand scale, I believe the world can be changed. No one person was ever meant to take the credit for it.