But the question of 'what is a man' keeps coming.
Of course men will fail: repeatedly. Name me a man who did not fail in almost everything he did until he mastered whatever it was he was doing, from tying his shoelaces at three to flying a jet fighter at thirty-three. He is measured by what he does, but that measure of the 'part' was not always so limited.
His proper measure is who he IS, and that changes and develops with his mastery of every challenge he faces and every failure from which he struggles and gets up. When he stops, he withers.
He has qualities that he must dig deep to find. Some he will need specific challenges to master before he finds them as his reward. Then he has to fit the pieces. He has passions and emotions he needs to understand and become a master of. He has intellect that he must use to know the world in order to master his way through. He has talents and interests that he must discover and master in order to be of use. He has a spirit that he must understand in order to know his place in the greater scheme.
It is a slow process and at each stage from small boy to mature adult male he must integrate and then let go.
He must sacrifice the stage he has grown to in order to move on and up.
It 'feels' like sacrificing himself.
He rarely reaches perfection and needs a hand at all steps along the way. There are few mature adult men around to hold out that hand.
Some do get close though: they become Saints, imperfect still, and on the way they are often Heroes, master-craftsmen, intellectual shoulders for others to stand on, defenders and Warriors, sound Fathers and teachers of boys.
These men teach boys to become men.
Most men, with few exceptions, can't become fully rounded until they become a Father. Then he has the possibility of becoming heroic.
It is painful. He has to sacrifice his independance and freedom of not being responsible for others. He has to put 'others' first. He has to accept and shoulder others being dependant upon him.
Many young men, today simply do not think and feel that such sacrifice is worth the pain.
To teach a boy to become a man requires a father who has mastered himself sufficiently and sacrificed his past selves, even his adolescent independance. Today there are few about. Never before have boys so needed their fathers.
This conversation at the bar came about though a woman wanting to know about men. She is not alone. She is an astute woman who has a pretty good idea even if she, like most, find it hard to articulate. There are a lot of other women wanting to know men and cannot find what they seek. This is because they themselves have little idea of what a man is: they are not men, so how could they know?
"Where are all the good men?", they shout. They would not know a good man if they fell over one.
Many have not had a father in their life as a model. Also far too many women these days have no idea how to be a woman. They have learned from their mothers who have dismissed their father, and have wish-list for men which is often wildly off-beam and fixated on adolescents. They find plenty of those even 50 year old ones. They have a view of themselves set in place at age fifteen when they still have the cradle marks on their bums, and egos far larger than even the worst men can even aspire.
That ain't a pretty picture either.
Well past fourscore years and ten, old men are asked. They should know, but even the best old men find it difficult to pin down just what a man is. A man is not a 'fixed'. He is rarely an 'ideal'. As I said, he is a work in progress and he is his own craftsman.
Some try hard to give guidance, as two did today.
Patrick Fagan, Ph.D., from Dublin, Ireland, is Director of MARRI at the Catholic University of America, and publisher of Faith and Family Findings. He has been a teacher, family therapist, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Family and Community Policy at HHS for a President after which he was Senior Fellow at The Heritage Foundation and at The Family Research Council. A man worthy of an ear.
And another, an example. To me an exemplar. A man who is well down that road to hero and saint. He is an actor, would you believe.
Patrick first: He has not quite an 'ideal' but an eye on what can be achieved with some effort short of extreme. He acknowledges the uphill battle.
Raising gentlemen in a #MeToo world
Timely advice for fathers.
Those over age 70 can remember the time in (the western world) when every man was expected to aspire to the goal of being a gentleman. But because no one can give what he does not have, and thanks to three generations of fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers rejecting each other, the ethos of gentlemanliness has eroded.
Millennial fathers raising young sons now must invent out of whole cloth what family, school, college, and media have failed to give them.
Cardinal John Henry Newman defined for all time the ideal of the gentleman as he set about the task of being the first rector of Ireland’s new university now University College Dublin.
For him, training gentlemen was the central measure of a university’s capacity to contribute to society.
Newman’s gentleman is habitually considerate of the physical, emotional, and even the intellectual safety and comfort of those around him, doing so with a degree of self-control so practiced and relaxed it goes unnoticed.
Though he is most reasonable, he knows that, in relationships, kindness is more powerful than reason, and therefore seeks to understand others, most especially his opponents, while remaining a man of principle in his own actions.
Because he is reticent to draw attention to himself, he is attentive to the temperament of others, which makes it easier for him to give them the benefit of the doubt. His habit of making others look good leads to ease in leadership.
Here is the actor, in the supporting role. He sees the role of Mentor - Father very clearly.Though all this is a tall bill, it is one worth aspiring to. It is achievable. It has been done by many, repeatedly.
Because we are all imitators, any father who aspires to form such greatness in his sons must first set the same bar for himself.
The giving up. The letting go. The sacrificing.If his own father was a gentleman, he has a great head start, but if, as for so many today, his father was not around or was not a gentleman, he seeks his own role models, knowing it is easier to imitate than to invent what he was not given.
He understands that if his son is totally confident that he is liked by his father, then he will imitate him. Therefore, he invests heavily in playtime when his son is small because this can bind his son’s heart to his with an ease that quickly recedes, and which is totally gone by adolescence when this closeness will be most needed.
If the boy’s mother simultaneously conveys her delight in his father, then their son is a boy without conflicts who will absorb everything he can about being a gentleman.
But how does a man evoke such a response from the mother for his sons?
By dint of constant effort, starting in earnest when his son is still in the womb. During courtship, it is easy to be a gentleman because the woman is so desirable, and the man is seeking to win her. However, marriage “up close and frequent,” especially during pregnancy, tests men in ways beyond anything most expect: having to think first of the wife’s needs and desires, physically, emotionally and even intellectually; overlooking her mistakes; giving her the benefit of the doubt when he is about to criticize; learning the limitations of her temperament, that temperament that attracted him before marriage but did not show its accompanying weaknesses till the intimacy of married life unmasked them.
One needs barely to point out to those who 'get it' that a young couple are, well, young. They barely know themselves let alone the 'other' and are at a stage that they will need to 'sacrifice' in order to help their spouse grow, along with themselves.The wife is simultaneously learning the same about him.
With his son’s birth, this father passed from being a "rookie gentleman" of the minor leagues to major league status as each new stage in family life pushed him to the next level of his own development, just in time for his ever-growing son to have new dimensions to imitate. Somewhere along the way,
he begins to see how inter-dependent are his and his son’s growth.
This is why it is so important to prevent and fight any attempt for schools to teach sexuality to children. What we see today is the teaching in schools, most often by the antithesis of the father - the female teacher - of the very perversions that fathers are duty-bound to prevent.When his boy is around age 7 to 9 (today, puberty is way too late), this father makes sure that he alone, and no one else—and most especially not pornography—is the one to induct his son into the knowledge of male and female sexuality, an induction he began covertly years earlier when he taught him to respect the modesty of his sister and mother by giving them an inviolable privacy in their bedrooms and the bathroom.
Today's father must become a warrior, fearlessly attacking his and his son's enemies. His daughter's too.
Over the next eight years or so, in well-timed talks, he imparts to his son his deepest knowledge of the physical, emotional and intellectual aspects of male sexuality and makes sure he is the first one to reveal the beautiful mystery of how it complements female sexuality.
He takes great care to tutor him in how to gain the sexual self-control that both permits chastity while single and endows sexual prowess when married. In this phase of induction more than anywhere else, his son senses the depth of ...
the private prayer life of his father without which this mode of controlled sexuality is most unlikely and virtually impossible.
And he takes special care to tutor him on the effects of pornography, which can quickly deprive men of ideals, heart, and sexual potency—turning them into slaves of the figments of a corrupted imagination.
He lets his son in on his own ways of resisting these temptations, and his ways of avoiding them in the first place—keeping the battle far away from the gates of his heart, preserving always his love for his son’s mother and his daughters.
A young man so tutored in sexuality and love by his father will have what it takes to win the woman he wants to give his heart to—a cultivated heart given as a whole and not in left-over pieces.
Should his mother also convey how much she has thrived on the love of his father, that son is virtually guaranteed to be a most powerful lover in his own time, and a generation from now, his future wife will be conveying the same message to their son.
Should the women of #MetToo get this vision for men, we well could begin our next Great Awakening.
In the meantime, real men must begin the most important and challenging work of their lives: being the gentlemen their sons can imitate, as they form their boys into men that mothers will want their daughters to marry.
The conversation continued, as I shall at another time. I have pints to pull (I have mastered this Tavern Keeping bizzo) and tables to wipe.
Continue it does. LordSomber pitched this fine explanation into the conversation. (see 'comments')
Drink up and think up.