Wednesday, November 17, 2010

On becoming a man -- what does it take and how is it done?

It is easy enough to tell people to "man up" or to become a man.  Sometimes the speaker means that they want someone to fill some specific "man's role" -- whatever that is.  Usually "man up" doesn't communicate much at all.

In some cultures "being a man" has a specific definition.  It may be someone who has the right scars.  Or, it may be someone who has killed a large game animals.  In some places you are not a man until you have counted coup on an enemy on the battlefield. In other places, you are not a man until you have had sex or gone through an initiation ritual. Those are all benchmarks.  They are acts or experiences that stand in as a proxy that is used to signal a measure of self knowledge.

So, what is it that makes the difference -- that makes a boy into a man? It is a measure of self knowledge and of taking ownership of one's self. It means not being oblivious and not hiding from yourself behind passivity, or silence, or food, or resentment, or any other method. It means taking mature ownership of yourself, your behavior, your feelings, and your goals.

Sure, the past exists.  Things have happened, there are difficulties everyone caries with them. But at some point you take ownership of the present and the future and cease to be a reactor to events or a slave to destiny. Wallowing in the past is holding onto childhood.  Clinging to powerlessness is clinging to infancy.

So, love yourself. Acknowledge yourself. Take ownership.  Do not reject the past, make it an experience and a lesson learned, not a trap or a regret.  Move into the present and find and move into yourself.  Become what you are, become a man, that is what it really means.

If you find you don't like yourself, don't hide from the truth.  Hiding doesn't change things.  Take ownership and acknowledge yourself and then decide what you are going to choose for the future. If you can't love yourself, either grow up or change.

Anyway, that is what I had to say when asked what does it mean to be a man.


Anonymous said...

Stephen, I hope you don't mind that I have mentioned you from time to time on annegb's posts as I don't think my home computer would let my comment here with its old browser. I appreciate you insights on becoming a man. I have so much respect for men who act as you define in your post.

I am probably not going to access my old email. My mom and I have moved out for right now. I don't know if we will move back. It is not like things were bad most of the time. I was not in fear for myself or her like I was years ago. I did fear for her at times as she is older now and can't take verbal explosions like before. But usually things were pretty good. My dad went to the hospital and his behavior there made my family fear for her and me. So we have moved out to where they want us to be safe. My mom is an emotional wreck. My dad doesn't know yet. It breaks her heart and mine to leave him at time when he needs us most. I hope he will have the care he needs. We may get back but will have therapy. Again, I do not have the same email so annegb can't connect with me there. I don't know when I will comment again on this computer that is NOT mine. I have followed your posts from time to time. I am a better person for knowing you. Thank you for making me welcome. I wanted to let you know about our current state as I vented so much in the past. Also, please let Silus Grok know as it is complicated to comment on his blog as he cross posts so much at another blog. Thank you for everything, Barb

Anthony @prokarateshop said...

Great post! My grandfather would always tell me that a man is what and how he does something.. not his age.
I think the world would be a better place if people asked themselves this question.

Anonymous said...

Stephen, I don't know if you got my previous message. Please don't ask annegb to email at the email that she has because I am not home. I am safe but not able to readily acccess that account. Thanks for always making me feel welcome. -Barb

Anonymous said...

I'm not a man, but I like this post. I think that your definition is right - being a man (or a grown-up or whatever you want to say) is about knowledge and integrity.

I love the scripture in 2 Nephi - when Lehi is speaking to Laman and Lemuel: "And now that my soul might have joy in you, and that my heart might leave this world with gladness because of you, that I might not be brought down with grief and sorrow to the grave, arise from the dust, my sons, and be men, and be determined in one mind and in one heart, united in all things, that ye may not come down into captivity;...
"Awake, my sons; put on the armor of righteousness. Shake off the chains with which ye are bound, and come forth out of obscurity, and arise from the dust." (2 Nephi 1:21, 23).

Being a man, growing up, means so much more than reaching benchmarks or fulfilling various rites of passage. It is all about us becoming determined to be free in the liberty given us by Christ. It is about waking up! Getting out of the dust of sin and ignorance, and choosing to be righteous.

Anyways - great post.

Anonymous said...

Although we are still away from home, my mom and sister saw a therapist. A lot of the behavior that made my family feel a need to flee(not my idea originally) was probably due to lack of oxygen although levels were high by that time. The person seems more stable. The therapist said that my mom can visit every other day. I may not update again but wanted you to know. --Barb