The Ways of Men
I love the ways of men. It is odd, perhaps, for a man to say this. I simply love the power and the grace of what it means to be a man. I’ve seen my share of fakes—the weak-kneed actors playing a role. You can hardly miss them. The guy who hopes that his props, his chatter, or his short-term bravado will make him appear to be the man he knows he isn’t at heart. No admiration for that guy here. What I love, though, is the radiating, certain, ennobling force that righteous manhood can be.
I love the man who stands calmly with both feet on the ground and knows he has a role to play. He has been put here for a purpose and being a man is part of it. He is more than his body and he understands this but he isn’t afraid to be his body, to know that manhood is, in part, muscle and speed and elegance and, yes, even unspoken intimidation when a threat means he must. I like that true men know the borders of their physical range and offer all that they are as masculine beings to make women safe, children confident, communities whole and their nation something exceptional on the earth.
I like the way of men with other men. Nothing wins me like a band of brothers gently needling each other for a laugh or nipping at one of their number to correct with wit and sarcasm what everyone knows needs addressing and might have been handled another, much harsher way. This is the way of the pack, the natural self-correcting mechanism of men in their element with other men. It is the way young men are trained and old men are honored and all men made to know where they belong.
I like the industry of men. Men with their tools. Men making a plan. Men using their verbal shorthand to direct and set the pace. I like that men grow quiet when they work, lost in their thoughts and the task at hand. I like that sweat and cuts and soreness are nothing foreign to a real man. They are passport to the country in which he lives. And nothing compares to the quiet pride of men after the task is done, when the car runs or the girders hold or the camp is what they wanted it to be.
I love that genuine manhood takes responsibility for making sure the world around them is safe. I love the knowing glance that sometimes passes between men, as though to say, “Yes, I’m on it. If anything happens here, I’m ready.” There is a kind of force that competent men emit and it invisibly changes their wives and their children and everyone in their reach whether anyone speaks of it or not.
I suppose most of all I love the way a young man looks to his father. He is eager to be an authentic man himself and he knows that this begins in his father’s face, in what he learns as his father speaks or reacts to events or reflects truth in a thousand expressions, in a thousand nearly imperceptible movements—imperceptible except to an adoring son. In that aging face is where he finds the carved image of what he is meant to be.
Then, of course, I love the way of men with God. They are more about doing than feeling, more about vision than postures of prayer. Still, true men of God have a quiet, unchallengeable connection to heaven that makes them what they are at their best, checks their lesser natures, and gives them what they in turn offer as a blessing to the world. This connection to God is what makes a guy who is just a man into something more; a great and righteous father in the land.
I love the ways of men. Yet I’ve been told the manhood I admire lives only in the past, that ours is a generation of weaklings and wimps. I pray it is not so. Manhood at its best is one of the great needs of our times. Resolve then, my brothers, to be all that it means to be a righteous man.
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