Was he at hand with a word of good cheer?
To bring back a smile or banish a fear?
--The Measure of a Man, Anon
In all of living have much fun and laughter.
Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured
--Gordon B. Hinckley
Grace is the absence of everything that indicates pain
or difficulty, hesitation or incongruity
By “guts” I mean, "grace under pressure"
--Selected Letters, Ernest Hemingway
Mr. Duffy lived a short distance from his body
--A Painful Case, James Joyce
What is the measure of a man?
That was the question posed by the recent post, Metrosexuals. It prompted the following off-site dialog, which seemed worthy of sharing. One could say the topic is a breather from more dire discussions, but maybe not. The philosopher Krishnamurti said we carry war within us: War is the spectacular and bloody projection of our everyday living.
What if we could extinguish that antagonism and turmoil, within and between us? We not only need to fully inhabit ourselves, but also bridge the chasm between us. Ranger never weighed in on the topic, but I will.
A man is a joy to those whose lives he touches. He is helpful and straight. He does not whine or complain. A man does the right thing, and is not resentful in the doing.
I know two men exactly the same age (they are not young) but diametrically opposite in demeanor. One brings strife wherever he goes, and keeps the focus on himself. The other said recently, "I continue to grow and improve . . ."
His life is one of service, bringing happiness if he can to those with whom he comes into contact. He is productive and happy. He furthers himself and seeks pleasure, but does not seek it by wringing the joy from others. The world is a little better for his having been here. (If you are reading this, Captain, it is you. My hat is off.)
Now to my dialog with reader Jay. As always, interaction is welcome:
I hope this find you well. I wanted to say "thanks" for joining the recent chat. We needed a woman's perspective, and what you say is spot-on:
. . .
"A man fulfills his duty even when that duty is burdensome and unwanted. man has an understanding of personal honor (integrity or principle) and tries to keep his honor intact. A man tries to be rational and just and that usually is demonstrated as generosity in fact and in spirit.
"I must have led a very peculiar existence as I have never found "anger" to be a male characteristic."
Brava! Anger is most definitely not a good male (or female) characteristic. I would call foisting one's anger upon another -- whether by raised voice or gesticulation -- violence.
Some women demonstrate the drama queen/Barbie thing, and so some stupid men presume tantrums = true emotion (they do not). I have seen this, so can vouch for it. It is either in emulation of a former "baby doll", or it is of their own creation, born of hatred and disregard of the other, who is simply a receptacle for all of that ugliness. I notice the one who dishes it out feels much better afterward; the vessel, worse.
I have found the only solution is to walk away from it. Anger is living and seething, and it seems to burn out. Sad thing is, it's seeds remain, so it lives to rear its ugly head another day.
But no, if you have not seen angry men, then you have been blessed to see only "real men", which I think was the point of this exercise, as we all know what brutes look like.
As to defining men.... I think that most of the good qualities are shared by men and women but are sometimes expressed a bit differently by the sexes. A good/real woman fulfills her responsibilities, has integrity and honor, and tries to be rational, just, and generous but it sometimes looks a little different when done by a woman.
I really do think of simple, direct speech and action as a primarily male characteristic. Women are certainly capable of it but, in my opinion, it is a male characteristic. Male = Action. :)
My little story would be that if you have some difficulty in your life and tell a man, he immediately casts about for a way to act so as to resolve the problem. If he cannot take action on the problem, he will probably feel uneasy and would prefer not hear more about it. The same story/problem told to a woman will elicit sympathy and reassurance and she will not feel uneasy about not being able to correct the problem. Voila! The difference in men and women.
As for "good" or "real" men. I've certainly never known a perfect one and that's a good thing. Why would a perfect man even speak to such a flawed woman as I! Everyone has a flaw and a vice and usually more than one of each. The important thing, for me, is will the flaws and weaknesses undermine his character in such a way that he cannot be trusted at all? It is my belief that we can only be trusted in those areas where we are strong and it's a fool's game to trust a person where he has a known weakness.
For instance, if a man is a womanizer it is entirely possible and even likely that you can trust him with your money, your valuables, your children, and your reputation - just don't trust him with women. Simple. If a man's weakness is money, he can probably be trusted with women but not your money. I'm sure you get my idea.
Perhaps because I am a woman, I usually find it easier to "read" men than women. Maybe I don't actually read men that well; it could be that I am just more forgiving toward men than I am toward women. By the way, I think that cuts both ways. I believe men are more forgiving toward women than they are toward other men.
Anger... Surely, surely not a "male" characteristic. There are far too many angry women for this to be foisted off as a male characteristic. *I'm not talking about being a little short-tempered. Anger is an abiding and corrosive thing if it is diffuse and a personality trait. Anger has its proper place as a reaction to gross injustice and cruelty.* I've heard for decades about "angry" men and always been a little nonplussed. Did this start with the women's lib activity in the late 60's and through the 70's? I really don't know.
However, it did seem to me that men were put in an impossible position and anything they might do was subjected to intense and withering criticism. I think there is continuing sniping at men that undermines their best intentions and best efforts. Of course, I'm really partial to men and they have always had my genuine sympathy because the burden of action falls on them. I could probably write a chapter on "anger" but I contend it is not a specifically male characteristic.
I confess that I view malice, whining, backbiting, etc. in men as "feminine" characteristics. :) I can hear the scream of protest from here! :) A nice autumn afternoon, a bottle of excellent Margaux, a pack of cigarettes for me, and I would tell a few of the experiences that brought me to this point of view. :)
I've known a few really excellent women. I've known many really excellent men. We've all heard "a good man is hard to find." Well, a "good woman" is damned rare!
Big grin... Had about enough of this, have you?
P.S. Brutal men are weak men who are careful to bully and brutalize those who are weaker than they and vulnerable - NOT good breeding stock.
I agree -- good men and women share most of the same qualities. The difference is in expression and coping mechanisms. I really like this:
"It is my belief that we can only be trusted in those areas where we are strong and it's a fool's game to trust a person where he has a known weakness." The proof's in the pudding. Your concept of being more forgiving of men is interesting. I believe we are raised to see men as flawed (for instance, my grandfather was a profligate womanizer, but mom says, "Well, he must've had the testosterone of 10 men!") So, it's their hormones, you see? This may be because we needed their protection. Humans are nothing if not resilient and ingenious with explanations/coping mechanisms (denial, anyone?!!)
And I guess we do the same for women, expecting them to be touchy, hysterical, whatever. However, in my fantasy, people respect each other enough to react with sensitivity to other's needs, or express their need directly.
"Anger is an abiding and corrosive thing if it is diffuse and a personality trait. Anger has its proper place as a reaction to gross injustice and cruelty" -- Amen, sister! No sex has sole ownership of this toxic emotion, most often set to wring the joy from a life when habitual.
"I confess that I view malice, whining, backbiting, etc. in men as "feminine" characteristics. :)" Again, brava! I cannot bear entitled drama queens of either sex. Oh, the Margaux could be supplied -- I'd love to hear your tales :)
The 3rd point we agree on: Good women are HARD to find! I have few, but they are gems. Sober and real people. I can't bear tittering and posturing...
My theory: About 70-80% of men are in the acceptable range, far as decent habits and morality; only 30-40% of women can pass muster, IMHO! Hormones are but a small part of it; socialization, designing behavior, nattering ... Just plain not interesting, how 'bout that! Okay, so the men on the tales of my bell curves might be a little dull, but they're sound, do-right men. Women often lack a core of integrity, and again, this may well be socialization: They are pragmatists, trading up when they can, improving their position by hook or by crook.
Women, due to their egos and silly vulnerability to flattery, will turn hither and thither, ruining many a good man in the process. Many of the bad men out there are the flotsam and jetsam of their process, and are left as buckets of fear and insecurity as a result. Now -- bad men can do the same to a women, but generally, I feel men favor the fairer sex. I have not met many unkind men, but I have met or heard of many unkind women.
Oh, I've enjoyed this little jaunt into the behavior of the sexes -- thanks for indulging me. Looks like we're on the same page pretty much. Love your p.s., btw -- spoken like a true farmer!
[Just visiting our old correspondence here, and wondered if you would be opposed to my posting it to the site? IMHO, there is much here, and I'd love if anyone else got on board, an addition to our two level heads :) ]
It is my stripped down opinion that men are breeding males like all other mammalian breeding males and have the same basic instincts and behaviors. I really believe that most of what we are individually is less reason and more hard wiring than most of us like to think. We flatter ourselves that we decide and choose mindsets and behaviors and I suppose we do within fairly narrow limits. Hardwiring determines and defines the array of choices available to each person.
Yep, I come down hard on the nature side of the nature vs nurture argument - an opinion radically different than the one I held from teen years through my twenties.
I could talk about this for many long afternoons and evenings and enjoy myself thoroughly. :)
P.S. Be aware that my perspective on men and definition of a good man is modeled on my father, his close friends, my uncles, brothers, cousins, etc. It seems reasonable to me that I defined a "man" by my father at such an early age that such conscious thought was beyond my ability but the template was set nonetheless ???
I, too, am a staunch naturalist. It's not too p.c., but if one reads the studies it is obvious that one can only shift so much from one's genetic set-point.
We're an upright (though not always straight-up) chemical soup that runs about like squirrels after nuts, yet we fancy we're each quite unique. Now, I do believe we are strongly impacted by our programming (which alters our genes). So, one may exit the hamster wheel with GREAT effort; few do, I feel.
I am amazed at the brilliant and kind people I have met via this military boys site
Okay, so there are two women's points of view. (Sorry -- didn't mean to imply military boys were not thinkin' sorts.) What have we missed?