Saturday, November 04, 2017

Sketching manhood

What makes up the inner life of men? I would argue that there are at least three major aspects of this inner life. 

The first is a focus on building strength. This can be physical strength, as measured by muscularity, speed, skill and endurance. But it can just as readily involve the building of self-discipline; the exercise of control over emotional reactions; or an ability to exercise good judgment. Success can be measured by demonstrating prowess or mastery in some field of endeavour, particularly when this requires strength of character.

The second is the drive to gain, or retain, honour, reputation and integrity. The place of honour is less prominent than it once was, most likely because it is cultivated within masculine spaces that no longer exist. Even so, I can recall at the boys school I attended that there was an unwritten code of honour that was very effective in encouraging an unflinching attitude to life. And, even today, most men would still have a sense of dishonour in, for instance, gross acts of cowardice. Social reputation is also less important than it once was, perhaps because we live in large, anonymous cities. It is still the case, though, that men do not want to be shamed within groups that matter to them - they want to keep their reputation unblemished. Integrity is, perhaps, the most important as we carry this with us always and as it relates to standards of who we are, and how intact we are, as moral creatures.

Finally, there is the experience of being responsive, connected and committed in our lives. This is the "poetic" experience of life in which we find a transcendent meaning in the beauty of women, or in our responsiveness to nature, or in the arts and architecture, or in our faith, or in our connectedness to people and place. We perceive there to be significant goods in life, which then inspire love and which then draw from us our deeper commitments, including a sense of duty to protect, to uphold and to serve, and to fulfil our social roles, whether these are directed to our family (as husband and father) or to our larger communal tradition.


  1. You do great work, Mr, Richardson... And for a long time, now.

    You are mosf certainly in the race.