It’s been a week.
The office was absolutely crazy. Very sick patients this week. There are so many people that are physically, emotionally and spiritually affected by the pandemic of COVID-19 over the last 18 months. I can’t go into details because of HIPPA laws. However, COVID-19 pneumonia, heart attacks, strokes, colitis, suicide, heart disease, heart failure, depression, dementia and more vaccine reactions made up the list of diseases I saw every day this week.
Let’s just say, the stresses of the week were heavy, and I really needed to blow off steam. Thankfully, I had a great weekend. It started off with some wonderful sword fighting where I learned a great deal about stance and foot work. In fact, I made two videos that you can see below from the footage we took.
Second, it was General Conference weekend, the semi-annual two day conference where we get to hear messages from the prophet, the Lord’s apostles and the general leadership of the church.
I was both physically and spiritually fed, and it was really helpful and tremendously rejuvenating.
The experiences of the week, both at the office and this weekend, contained many life lessons for me –
First, as a male we are, each of us, alone. And this is the first law of masculinity. And it is the most important law. Your value is equal to the value which you bring to the tribe. We are not equal. You are not special. Respect is earned, not given. Your brothers will not love you unconditionally for who you are, just being yourself. They will criticize you, push you to your limits, bring out the best in you, and give you their respect when earned. And this isn’t shocking at all. This is common knowledge to any man. Your childhood is over. The boy is dead. It’s time to be a man for the rest of your life.
Until you can function as a competent member of the group and carry your own weight, you are a supplicant and a drag on the collective. A child is a child, but an incompetent adult is a beggar. One of the problems with massive welfare states is that they make children or beggars of us all, and as such are an affront and a barrier to adult masculinity. It has become clichéd comedy for men and women to laugh at men who are concerned with being competent. The “men refuse to stop and ask for directions” joke never seems to get old for women, who are more comfortable with dependence, or socialist types, because reducing men to a childlike state of supplication and submission to state bureaucrats is required for big-government welfare states to function. Masculine loathing of dependence is a bulwark to the therapeutic mother state.
Second, men aren’t wired to fight or cooperate; they are wired to fight and cooperate. This is becoming evermore clear to me every day.
Third, courage implies a risk. It implies a potential for failure or the presence of danger. Courage is measured against danger. The greater the danger, the greater the courage. Running into a burning building beats telling off your boss. Telling off your boss is more courageous than writing a really mean anonymous note. Acts without meaningful consequences require little courage. Fear is a reaction. Courage is a decision.
Fourth, between stimulus and response, there is a space – a space with which few are well acquainted. In that space we find our power to chose our response to stimulus around us. This space is very small. In sword fighting it is between 1/10th to 2/10ths of a second. Your foundation in life, in other words, your footwork and stance play a huge roll in your ability to use this space. As you will see in the video below, it is all in your hips.
Fifth, stop fortifying your doubts by rehearsing them with the doubters.
Sixth, the prophetic promise of President Russell M. Nelson today was, “if you and I are to withstand the forthcoming perils and pressures, it is imperative that we each have a firm spiritual foundation built upon the rock of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ.”
Seventh, I have learned more clearly this week that the the scriptures contain three things essential to the development of a man:
- Descriptions of the Natural Man – this is the instinctual state of man, the basic wiring that keeps men alive – built into the subconscious cerebellum and brain stem of every man. It is the drive to protect and procreate. This natural state, though created to protect the species, if focused on primarily prevents a higher, spiritual perspective.
- Much like a horse, the instinctual passions must be bridled to be usefully controlled. Physical, spiritual and emotional pathways to bridling have been written about over the last 6000 years. These pathways or attempts at merging and bridling the power of the human instincts with higher order thinking include spiritual discipleship, Spartan Codes, Japanese Bushido, European Chivalry & Knighthood and the Shaolin monks use of Kung Fu. Though never discussed, I suspect that this is the reason the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, Talmud, Book of Mormon and other accepted books of scripture intertwine prophetic instruction with stories of battle and war. John Wayne said, “Every man needs two things to live a successful life. First he need a moral code by which to live his life. Second, he needs a backbone to keep him from being swayed by all those with no moral code.”
- The importance brotherhoods and “tribes” to our individual growth are what establish the backbone. A woman simply is, but a man must become. Beauty, elegance, virtue, kindness and grace are innate traits that accompany every woman I’ve ever met. Masculinity on the other hand is risky and elusive. It is only achieved by a revolt from the woman, and it is confirmed only by other men. Manhood coerced into sensitivity is not manhood at all. When men evaluate each other as men, they subconsciously look for the virtues necessary to help keep the perimeter. Men respond to and admire the qualities that would make men useful and dependable in an emergency. Men have always had a role apart. Whether they admit it or not, they still, to this very day, judge one another according to the demands of that role as a guardian in a tribe struggling for survival against encroaching doom. Everything that is specifically about being a man – not merely a person – has to do with that role.
As Jack Donovan said, men cannot be men — much less good or heroic men — unless their actions have meaningful consequences to people they truly care about. Strength requires an opposing force, courage requires risk, mastery requires hard work, honor requires accountability to other men. Without these things, we are little more than boys playing at being men, and there is no weekend retreat or mantra or half-assed rite of passage that can change that. A rite of passage must reflect a real change in status and responsibility for it to be anything more than an act or theater.
I am convinced that the reason pornography and addiction are so prevalent in our society is that we have lost foundations of our society that previously established the three essential concepts above.
You want to know the truest test of every religious, political or educational system? Look at the man, his honor and character by which it forms. By their fruits you will know them.
Why do I sword-fight, because it is the natural hinge-point that allows me to mentally and physically internalize the instinctual, spiritual and emotional aspects of my life.