Whenever a guy says he wants to talk with me “man to man,” I assume he is up to no good. He either can’t get what he wants by just speaking right out; or he’s trying to get around my woman by playing me against her; or he’s trying to validate an uncertain masculinity.
I’m reminded of this observation by a recent incident: the Oak Creek, Wisconsin, Sikh Temple shooting on August 5. You might say the suspect, a known white supremacist, was acting manly by targeting dangerous “others” of a different religion. I’m no expert on the subject because I’ve never used a gun in place of my penis, so I’m not going to presume to say what I think constitutes manly behavior. I can, however, point to a few examples of what is not—
Picking on the weak, the uninformed, the defenseless is not
Turning your back on those who cannot help themselves is not
Pretending to know what you don’t know is not
Being selfish is not
Making judgments and decisions based on fear and prejudice is not
Forgetting to be grateful for your gifts and to learn from your flaws is not
Outsourcing your moral code is not
These seven qualities ring true to me because they are the exact opposite of what any fanatical group (like white supremacists) enforces on their followers. Indeed, they are the exact opposite of what religion teaches. We’ll never know what the Sikh Temple shooter was thinking, but make no mistake: if you don’t think for yourself, if you don’t question authority, I would question your masculinity. And your religion.
These seven are not the only “manly” qualities, and women can benefit from them, too. I’m not suggesting you take them on faith – that wouldn’t be manly. But if you really want to make the world a better place, my advice would be to take the advice of the late Michael Jackson (hardly a man’s man) and start with the man in the mirror. Man.
Copyright © 2012 Ronald Bruce Meyer. To hear an audio version of this Quick Comment, click on this link: Man To Man
Herman Melville (1819) It was on this date, August 1, 1819, that the American novelist Herman Melville was born in New York, into a family of the Dutch Reformed church, the third of eight children. At age 7, scarlet fever left Melville somewhat visually impaired, and although his father died when he was 12, he […]