Unsurprisingly, I choose to write. At a time like this, where I’ve become so befuddled by life and it’s complexities, I’ll choose to write about it. Not because I aim to aid anybody else through something similar – but to sort out my own thoughts.
I think I’ve found a deep cut in modern men. Not to say it’s an original thought, but I guess a better way to describe this might be that I’ve found truth in it. Modern men – and especially men – lack character-defining struggle. With struggle, we lack the opportunity to sacrifice.
In times past – as we’ve described it on our podcast, only ‘a few grandmas ago’ – our species has had to stand against massive trouble as a matter of survival. World Wars, economic depression, famine and the basic tasks of making it through harsh winters without falling victim to starvation or the frost itself – all of these, only a few decades away from us. To be clear here, I don’t wish for these or other life-resetting events to be dropped into our laps, as others might. As I learn first-aid, it’s not to wait for something bad to happen, but rather, to be ready if it does.
We’re pressed up against the hero archetype of the soldier and the entrepreneur. Daily, we’re reminded of the clear-cut rites of passage our ancestors had to pass through. Risk. We’re missing risk.
Or perhaps, it’s that our risks aren’t nearly as primal. Our risks – student debt, social interactions – are more the product of some rules we’ve agreed to live by than their existential cousins.
Men, traditionally, had been tested by scenario which they’d been given as an opportunity to rise to. Perhaps that idea is easy to flippantly discuss on some unknown blog. Perhaps, it’s crude of me to suggest that these terrible circumstances were in any way a positive event, and I’m not trying to romanticize war and it’s worst effect, but in the same way, these events did seem to produce a type of man that was capable of getting us here in the grandest way to imagine it.
I see it when the struggles of our past are trounced upon. When an edit to our national anthem is suggested as a means of pushing women up to the front of the line. Maybe it’s when the farthest left find more offensive weight from language than they do a world literally burning from human-triggered climate change. Maybe still, it’s the socially driven calming of men – a society asking men to stay pudgy and insulated from the frantic, monkey energy that runs through our veins.
I can tell that this is scattered. A collection of frustrated ideas.
We’re not challenged as men. We’re asked to work, but not at truly worthwhile endeavors. We’re rarely given the opportunity to protect and provide, truly. If not for protection, providing and procreating, what are the real ‘jobs’ of a man?
With struggle, we’re granted the unique opportunity to give parts of ourselves toward some uncertain outcome.
When I train Jiu Jitsu, I’m able to smash my physical body into someone else – uncertain of the outcome to a certain point yet willing to engage, if only to push up against the threat of physical harm and from there, the ongoing idea of physical harm in the future. I rear a son, unsure of his future and my ability. Still, I wake each day as a father, willing beyond description to keep trying my best to bring up a capable man. I’ll join the military, sure that I’ll have to spend time away from my family – in the hope that I’ll someday be able to help while knowing full and well that this too will again bring me away from home.
Maybe I’ll keep writing about this. It’s troubling and very difficult to articulate.
I see and feel a shift. I compare my reality against what I’ve been told about those that came before and can’t help but see that something is missing. Morally, socially, we’re missing some directive or compass, as far as I can tell.