What it Means to be a Man in the Modern World

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Man has always been mad.

Mad about gold. Mad about discovery. Mad about beer, women, whiskey, cars, sports, and money. Man has always been far away fighting wars or nearby fighting markets. It’s indisputable that if man did not provide for and protect his family then he would be deemed “Not Fit for Duty”. Is this something that will forever remain consistent in the family structure?

When I was in the Navy, superior officers drilled this one into my head: “Opinions are like assholes. Everybody has one and they all stink“. Well, here’s my opinion. I’m sure it will piss some of you off. But what do I care? I’m not one of those modern “sensitive” softies. Not afraid to get dirty, not afraid to clean myself up, and I’m quite fond of the old adage, “Classy never goes out of style”. And lastly, I’m sure as hell not afraid to tell you that I don’t give a damn about whether or not you agree with my opinion — we’re just talkin’ here, man to man.

What it Means to be a Man in the Modern World

Maybe he’s a jack-of-all-trades, able to fix shit and change tires quickly as his lady can flip a pancake.  Maybe he’s “a God-fearin’ man” or perhaps he curses like a sailor and has muscles so big and so strong he can lift buses off the children stuck beneath ’em. Maybe he’d have a husky voice, a kickass beard, listen to The Rolling Stones and have a palate partial to whiskey. Or perhaps he’d tuck in his spring-hued polo, wear boat shoes and chinos and open doors for old ladies of whom he’d address by madam and ma’am.

Society has changed. The role of a man isn’t cut and clear like it used to be. “Man provide for family. Man put food on table. Man no cry”. Traditional family dynamics stand afar from contemporary values, hence there’s this question nagging at our heels; as we evolve, as we take steps forward, as we try to feel comfortable in our own skin, we are dying to know; what is the role of a modern man?

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Women have influenced admirable changes in society. They have fought for equality and a just world. Women have tamed men. Man is no longer the dictator of society. Man is no longer a wild and strong beast that rules as a patriarch with a primal and self-proclaimed sense of power. This most recent episode in human evolution has created an intellectual revolution. And the results: we live in a world with more reason, justice, and equality.

“Equal weight defines balance, but individual strengths working together define unity and structure.”

Man has been given permission to wear his heart on his sleeve. To display affection, to love and to share his pride. This burden comes with immense hope for future generations. Man has learned that two is better than one, and that the world is more suitably managed when his counterpart has equivalent authority. And man should know, equal weight defines balance, but individual strengths working together define unity and structure. 

It is unreasonable to reduce man to one type or model. The world needs blacksmiths and farmers just as much as it needs bankers and accountants. It needs leaders as much as it needs followers. It needs men, women and children, blacks, whites and asians, CEO’s and custodians. But nevertheless, it’s fair to make this generalization about the modern man; he is not defined on whether he’s debonair or a mangled mess. He’s not defined on whether he can bench-press 300 pounds or solve complex equations. He’s defined on accountability. Providing and protecting. Modern family dynamics have apparently evolved, but the very core of what it means to be a man has never changed, and it never will change.

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11 thoughts on “What it Means to be a Man in the Modern World

  1. I think each man or woman needs to be authentic and know themselves first rather than follow a society idea of what a man is like. Well it goes for women too. At one time we had matriarchal society and boys took the mother’s name as a family name.
    I find all human beings have a lot in common and the gender role is chosen for practicality and based on today Judeo/christian background.
    Look back 2500 years ago and Celtic women came here on ships from Europe, and women then were warriors and in many ways just like men.
    The world is in this shape because religious men with false interpretations of mythological doctrines insist on degrading women abilities and role in society.
    The current situation exist because of the imbalance between the masculine and feminine creative power. Earth is feminine and just as men for centuries have damaged their relationship with the sacred feminine they have also polluted the planet. Now we have women that deny their power or are ignorant of it and men who are embracing the feminine within themselves.
    We are recognizing the need to be both, we seek balance.
    The roles are chosen but independence is cherished.

    1. Madeline,
      I just read a book called “Why Nations Fail”. It is incredibly interesting to see how the world we live in today is shaped by history. How humanity has diverged and certain political and religious institutions have shaped culture and ultimately led to the global spectrum of prosperity and poverty.
      You hit on a note that is very important to me. That of thinking outside the constructs of society. How these human frameworks based on historical transgressions bleed into our current era.
      Thank you,
      -Aaron

  2. Equal, yes. The same, no. My beloved had the gift of mercy. I have the gift of discernment. I can see it and it sometimes gives me a hard edge. He could see it and be merciful. We recognized that our weaknesses were each other strengths.
    Any military strategist will tell you to play to your strengths and minimize your weakness. In our case, it was to embrace the differences in each other and allow our opposing strengths carry us through, that made us strong. I didn’t try to be him and he didn’t try to be me.
    I hate the diversity, politically correct rhetoric. I believe you should just love people and let them be different. Play to your strengths. Worry about my own conduct. I don’t want to fill a man’s shoes, I love the differences, I love men! I especially love men who are secure in themselves, confident in their own sexuality and not afraid to act like a lumberjack or cry in a movie. (No slight is meant to any lumberjacks!)
    Madeline, I like what you said about being authentic. I too must be authentic and say you are bordering on hate speech. I’m sure that you understand that ALL religion (even your own) was created by man and ALL are inherently flawed. To single out Judeo/Christian’s is just bad form. America is a melting pot of people and cultures and in my state, the culture is majorly Hispanic followed by other diverse cultures. I would not dream of blaming my state’s condition and woes on the Hispanic or Catholic culture.
    I continue in a meaningful relationship with my God and as a believer and an American, I will defend your right to worship a rock if you choose to.
    My God forgave women where they were caught in sin and in that day would have been killed. He freed women and empowered them in Proverbs 31 to be vital participants in the community as wives, mothers, independent business women and teachers. To be strong. It was people that corrupted that, not God. Just every day ordinary people, we do that. Haven’t quite got that perfection thing down yet, I guess that’s why I still need God.
    I believe it is as He said, we are created in his image. Not to be subservient slaves to a culture (or a religion) but to freely worship Him and follow his only two rules. Love God, Love Others.
    I like the way my doctor put it, live like you were still in the Garden of Eden. He was talking about my diet, but I like the broader sense. Walking in the garden with God, naked as we were born, authentic and o.k. with my surroundings.

    Rock on and be authentic, I like that and so does God!

    1. Tessa,
      I have got to say. I went back and read this and absolutely love this comment. Authenticity is so very valuable to the core of humanity. I will remember your words, especially the broad sense of living as if you were still in the Garden of Eden.
      Thank you for your words,
      -Aaron

  3. Madeleine’s viewpoint hits a nerve and the right kind of nerve because organised religion has helped deface women’s position in society through the years. However Christianity in my humble opinion is not organised therefore I also applaud you for a fantastic reply. Jesus is the way and the only way for any man or woman. I couldn’t agree with you more. I’m proud of our differences and love being a woman. Wouldn’t have it any other way. Amen! God bless you! 🙂

    1. Thank you for your kind words. Comments like this make me feel happy. Writing is my source of inspiration and I am so happy that I can use the digital platform as a way to share this inspiration with others.

  4. Wisdom and perspective foraging here.

    The more I read and reflect on your views, the more I wonder if we are brothers born of another mother or if we are yin yang. What you don’t know about me (or possibly care about) is that I am a better verbal communicator than via written word. You, obviously, have the latter covered in spades.

    Still, I will attempt to express a couple of thoughts specific to this post.

    I have grown to both dislike labels when applied to people, be they accurate, complimentary, or convenient. Ditto for defining people which I consider abject and limiting. Ergo, for modern man to be labeled or defined, for whatever purpose, rests unwell with me. Why do we need to?

    To “…we live in a world with more reason, justice, and equality.” If I had asked my Dad, a West Point graduate and the epitome of a “modern man” in his time, what he thought, he’d have said “screw that” whether in the 50’s or today. It is true that an intellectual revolution is unfolding/emerging. Just the other day a fellow blogger shared with me the word “sapiosexual” which Urban Dictionary defines as someone who is attracted to another’s intelligence. She professed being one. And this, to me, is attractive. But have we reached a state or place where we have more reason, justice, and equality? Yes, in some cases, and no, we’re still woefully behind in others. At least in the U.S., injustices are as prevalent today as they have been, historically. (And I realize that is a blanket statement, sans supporting documentation or argument). For now, I stand by it.

    The “Equal weight…” quote is stunningly beautiful; almost ethereal. Is it yours?

    To your closing thought, Aaron, especially “…and it will never change.” I’m unsold. Never is an absolute, a certainty. If cultures, family dynamics, and societies in general are continuously evolving, and humanity is on an unchartered course, who’s to say that what it means to be a man will never change?

    You inspire me to think. And perhaps, challenge a bit.

    1. Eric,

      We must certainly be yin and yang. Because I cannot express myself verbally well at all! I saw a speech you gave and YES you are an amazing speaker, but I must argue that you very eloquently write as well. Thus, I am “sapiosexually” attracted to your thoughts of which I’ve come across!

      I believe justice, reason and equality are transforming. Not necessarily diminishing, but certainly are revolutionizing into different flavors with each generation. And thank you for bringing up the closing thought. Indeed, nothing is ever static, and it’s dangerous to generalize. Perhaps this was an exercise to develop my own personal manifesto of the kind of “modern man” I’d like to be.

      Thank you for bringing this up,
      Aaron

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