Sunday, August 27, 2006

the three passions that have governed my life.

Three passions have governed my life:
The longings for love, the search for knowledge,
And unbearable pity for the suffering of [humankind].

Love brings ecstasy and relieves loneliness.
In the union of love I have seen
In a mystic miniature the prefiguring vision
Of the heavens that saints and poets have imagined.

With equal passion I have sought knowledge.
I have wished to understand the hearts of [people].
I have wished to know why the stars shine.

Love and knowledge led upwards to the heavens,
But always pity brought me back to earth;
Cries of pain reverberated in my heart
Of children in famine, of victims tortured
And of old people left helpless.
I long to alleviate the evil, but I cannot,
And I too suffer.

This has been my life; I found it worth living.
-Bertrand Russell

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

questioning the western worlds rite of passage to manhood

what is a man? what makes a human male what one would define as a man?
i am currently reading a book called 'fire in the belly' by sam keen and it is the best physiological book on masculinity i have ever read. western society says that you can become a man by joining a fraternity, getting a letter in sports, having sex with multiple partners, being rugged & tough, never showing your feelings, drinking a lot, having lots of money, working hard, swearing, never crying, etc. but do these actions prove that one is a man?
i read a book called wild at heart and did not enjoy or relate to it at all. it made a list of traits that 'real men' possess and a list of what the common male can do but is somehow is categorized in a type of sub-man. the real men liked camping and auto repair, while the un masculine male knew how to install a computer program and program a DVD player. i honestly don't feel by buying a motorcycle that i am more 'manly' and i sure don't feel that it is likely to give me any more testosterone.
"the information necessary to create a male is encoded in our DNA, but it takes all the institutions of a culture to produce a man. The male body is the biologically given hardware, the myth that manhood is the software inserted by society through a series of formal and informal rites of passage."
-sandor mcnab
as boys we are taught in order to reach manhood we must repress compassion, guilt, and the sense of fear. the propaganda we are constantly bludgeoned with states that if we do not become dominant, sadistic, and cruel then we have not yet reached manhood.
but in our pursuit of manhood we have lost the sense of family and replaced it with the pursuit of power, greed, and money.
before world war I the average man would spend 4 hours with his children a day. between world war I and world war II it was reduced to 2 hours a day. post world war II it is now down to a 20 minute average a day the average working man spends with his children a day. what has been gained is the warped sense of "manhood" what has been lost is the relationships with his children. in turn the fathers silently are teaching their young boys that this is the way of the man. to much time spent at home, or investing into children's lives can be seen from the outside as lazy and in turn un-manly, since the sense of work satisfaction is the identity of the modern male.
in light of this men like rena cassin, who won the nobel peace prize in 1968, would not be 'man' at all. he was known for being a fragile man and a quiet speaker, unlike the extraverted, tough exterior expected by western culture. he set up the french ferderation for disabled war veterans and accepted the office of vice president of the hig council so he could work hands on with the childern orphaned by the war.
to me this was a man.
to me character, ethics, and social responsibility should be the point to which all men should be judged by.
"a man is measured by the expanse of the moral horizon he chooses to inhabit."
-sandor mcnab
i believe it is what we stand for and what we are willing to die for that makes us a man, not by the size of engine in his mode of transportation or ammount of alcohol he can consume before we are out of control.
i believe that it is what we do in secret that determines the character of the man, and it is character that is imperative and not the depth of his voice, or the ammount of women he can seduce.
i believe it is a males self control and self sacrifice that should be the western worlds rite of passage to manhood and not his social irresponsibility in front of peers that is the true test.
i am now questioning the western worlds rite of passage to manhood, and one day hope to instill character, ethics, social responsibility, and a sense of family in all my little boys; because those are the substance of a man.