Good Men Serve Others: the Selfishness of Fear.
“The way of a superior man is three-fold: virtuous, he is free from anxieties; wise, he is free from perplexities; bold, he is free from fear.”
In today's world, chivalry, strength and bravery are no longer required of men. There is now no recognised tradition of initiation into manhood, and boys are no longer made to endure hardship with the purpose of bringing the best out of them — their masculinity — into maturation and fruition.
I might be wrong, but this does not seem to be producing more good men than the world before; in fact, I cannot help but think that, by demanding that men become just the opposite of the warriors they once were, the modern culture had thrown the baby out with the bathwater.
Instead of adding something to the man, we have robbed him of something deep and vital, and have then sought to supply his lack with something totally different — the civility that could only be an addition to his already strong nature, not a substitution for it.
The two are entirely different, the strength and the kindness, and we need them both.
Around a century ago, American president Theodore Roosevelt said:
Unless we keep the barbarian virtues, gaining the civilised ones would be of little avail.
The word 'gentleman' comprises of two parts: 'gentle' and 'man'. If one removes the first part, the 'man' part still remains, and this is what must happen in life too. We need to have the strong part of us — the 'barbarian' inside us — aroused and awakened, if we want to live as strong, but good men.
You cannot train a warrior to fight for a good cause, if he is already defeated and is lying dead on the ground! Yet this is what has been and is being done to so many of us today — we are not feeling able to be strong and dangerous, like the men we admired when we were boys — yet, we are still expected to be patient, kind, and loving toward others.
We are expected to be gentle, merciful and gracious like the superheroes on television, but are not allowed to be strong and fierce like them!
A complete man is a man who is able to access all of his emotions.
A man in whom some of those emotions are suppressed is not only incomplete; he is actually dangerous — to himself, in terms of the quality of his life, well-being and health, but also to others...
Such a man is harmful to those around him not only because he might one day erupt with anger like a volcano — not only because of what he might do — but also because of what he doesn't do, what he doesn't bring into the lives of his loved ones, his friends and co-workers.
A passive man is not a harmless man. Not at all.
* * *
A man whose fierce energies are untapped and suppressed, cannot offer to others what he is meant to offer them — the externally-directed force of his presence, and all the decisions and actions that come from this state of freedom.
Having felt no strength in himself, he is fearful of them and is always on the defensive, staying hidden in his cave, too busy to keep the superficial peace at home, and too scared to 'rock the boat', to make any difference in the long-term well-being of those around him...
This is not a full life, but the quiet, passive existence of a man that is subdued and stripped of his good, life-giving powers.
Aspects of this life in hiding are felt by so many of us, so very often. Indeed, if we are honest with ourselves, we will admit that, although the world might call us 'nice', very little about this way of living is good.
In truth, apart from all else, this is a selfish life, lived not in the name of peace of those around us, but in the name of the peace of only one person — our own fearful self.
This is not a life of service to others, of putting others before oneself, and deep down, we who have lived it, have always known that hard truth. Cowardice and superficial niceness is not the same as goodness that seeks the best for others.
Winston Churchill once said:
A man does what he must in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures and that is the basis of all human morality.
And I cannot help but wonder where would we be today if the men of the past have chosen to remain 'nice', and play it safe, clinging to their own little lives, instead of risking it all for the good of their world?
* * *
Boys want a life of pleasure and comfort; men are ready to endure hardships for the sake of those around them.
Boys want to be served. Men want to serve.
We are not serving others by repressing in ourselves that which would make us stronger and alive; we are only robbing them — of our true selves, but also, perhaps, of their own ability to become their own true selves, which is a thing a father and husband has the power to inspire and cultivate in his family.
Finally, if we choose to keep living the way we always have — a fearful and appeasing life of passivity and comfort, rather than a life of risk, challenges, hardship, and true, courageous leadership — we would not only be deprived of true joy, but also deprive those around us from the benefits a true man brings.
Not the true man out there, on the television screen, but the man inside you, who is still waiting to come out and live.
Allow him; for he must do so for the sake of others.
With much respect,