Friday, September 27, 2013

The measure of a man

The running joke is that the internet is all porn and cat pictures and it's true that fake breasts and cute felines with a craving for cheezburgers certainly consume a disproportionate amount of the world's bandwidth. However, I think there is a third pillar of the internet that is growing in strength everyday, that is, manliness. Massive bacon consumption, a killer porn 'stache and hero-worship of Ron Swanson are apparently the true measures of a man these days. Well balderdash, I say! (Crap, my monocle fell out...hold on). Let me tell you young whippersnappers what you require in order to be a man. Oh, and by the way, these guidelines are not limited to men, they will serve women well too.

1. Have a working knowledge of history: Now put down that smartphone and don't even think of consulting Wikipedia. No one says you need to know what year the Second Punic War started, but understanding many of the problems we face today requires knowing the history of those problems. How can you understand the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians if you've never heard of the Balfour Declaration? As George Santayana, a famous Spanish-American philosopher said "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it".

2. Have a working knowledge of politics: Every adult should know the orientations of major political parties in his or her country. You should know what socialism and capitalism actually are, beyond the slogans you see on bumper stickers and T-shirts. If a politician is described as progressive or conservative, liberal or centrist, you should be able to guess what said politician's opinion will be on most major issues of the day. You should have opinions of your own and you should be able to defend them. You should vote. It matters.

3. Know how to do things: Change a tire or a light fixture, make your own beer or grow your own tomatoes, go hunting or fishing, own some tools and know how to use them. Be as self-sufficient as you can be, you never know when it may save your life.

4. Fulfil your obligations: Everyone has obligations, to your society, to your employer and most importantly, to your loved ones. Be the man everyone needs you to be. Get your lazy butt out of bed and do what needs doing. Be engaged. There are probably people who depend on you. There are certainly people who care about you. Put down the game controller and go help your wife with the housework or your kid with her homework. Invite your parents over and cook them a meal. Go shovel the driveway for your elderly neighbour. Pay your debts.

5. Be respectful: A real man does not insult or belittle others. He doesn't misuse other people's property or use threats of violence (but see below). When a woman says no, a real man accepts it. Oh, and if you disrespect my daughters I will crush you like a bug!


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