Sunday, April 26, 2015

Man Up!

Greetings, fellow castaways on the distant shores of the mind. This week, I want to take a look at a lost art, a form our modern culture has told you is "old-fashioned," "out of style," "archaic," or out of line with this modern, "enlightened" culture. It's art of being a man. More specifically, a gentleman.

Gentlemen are labeled these days a male chauvinists. Groups like Promise Keepers are dragged through mud, nit-picked to death, bullied and scorned. The going image is one of knuckle-dragging brutes, dominating and overlording their spouses and children, perpetuating male domination to the detriment of everyone else.

Well, I've been to a Promise Keepers function, and I can tell you it's nothing like that. In fact, it's exactly the opposite. It's a holding accountable of every man to a high standard of conduct honoring and cherishing his partner and children. Paul's letter to Ephesus lays it down in no uncertain terms: Ephesians 5:25 says this: "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." Loving my wife in  that context means laying down my entire life to protect and honor her. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Being a gentleman is NOT outdated. It's more important than ever that every man learn what it means to be a man. Androgyny may be the fashion, but it's not conducive to a functional society. There are rules for courtesy for a reason. They keep a society from falling apart and devouring itself like a suicidal cannibal. And if there is going to be a United States, or any other country, left in fifty years, we need to reestablish rules of courtesy by which we can get along. And we all need to get along.  Look at Facebook if you don't believe me.

Change has to start somewhere, folks. It can be a little thing in the beginning, and it can grow. So, to quote Michael Jackson, I'm starting with the Man in the Mirror. That means I'm defining to myself what it means to be a gentleman. I'll let you see why in a moment.

1.) A gentleman knows when to hold his tongue. That means clamping my mouth shut rather than respond to the latest hate-post from Bernie Sanders. As much as I growl and seethe, Sometimes I just have to clench and look away. Especially if saying something would be the same thing as throwing a diamond to a gorilla. Some people will not be convinced, no matter what I say or how many times I repeat it. So I'm just going to shut up and walk on. Some fights just are not worth the headache and backlash you're going to generate by jumping in. If everyone on Facebook would just shut the hell up one extra time per day, the internet will be a safer and more civil place by at least 1%.

2.) A gentleman honors and protects a woman's dignity. Period. Not that a woman can't defend her own honor.  It's a respect thing.  And while we're talking respect, how about I respect other men as well? Everyone is worthy of honor and respect, until they prove themselves to be otherwise. That means no name-calling, period. Terms like "stupid," "wacko," "nut-job," and "clown" will not cross my lips, as much as I want to launch out.

3.) A gentleman won't take the first punch, unless his life or safety is in direct jeopardy. If he does have to take that punch, he makes it count. A gentleman is not a wimp. He knows when to walk away, which is always. If he's cornered, he takes every option necessary to win his way out of it, for his own safety and anyone else with him. He fights to get out of the situation, and knows rules of engagement are out the window when lives are on the line. He will always place himself between evil and the innocent.

4.) A gentleman places others before himself. He lays his own life down for the sake of his wife and children. He provides for them, protects them, and makes himself accountable to them.

5.) A gentleman allows room for disagreement without condemnation. He does not judge people on what they do or don't believe, on their appearance including skin color, or on their actions. He allows room for the Ultimate Judge to render judgment. He does not compromise his own beliefs or faith, but he does not appoint himself as the Last Prophet, standing on the hilltop and pointing fingers. Because he himself is no better a person than anyone else.

The bottom line is this: I'm talking to that man in the mirror. I'm holding him accountable to a higher standard of behavior, one that makes peace with those with whom he deals, on all fronts. It might mean he has to be a little less opinionated, a little more restrained. But if I'm going to make this Civility thing work, I have to start somewhere.

Who's with me? 

Monday, April 13, 2015

I Yam What I Yam

I'm tired, folks.

I'm tired of being labeled. I'm tired of trolls coming out of the woodwork to level accusation against people they don't know from Adam, whom they have never met and about whom they know nothing, aside from a single statement with which they disagree, and so they heap derision and vitriol instead of bringing value to create a civil discourse.

So here's the deal, folks:

1.) I am an American, and I refuse to apologize for it.

The United States went from a ragged collection of subservient colonies, to the world's greatest superpower, in less than 200 years. No, I'm not proud of the way certain people groups were treated throughout our history. Remember, I was around when they were using fire-hoses and German Shepherds against people for just being black. But I didn't wield those hoses, nor release those dogs, and I refuse to be held accountable for it. Nor do I have any ancestors who forced the Algonquin to march the Trail of Tears. I live in a village who has been at peace with our tribe for nearly 200 years. So don't even go there, bucko.

This country is exceptional: First to mass manufacture. First in Flight. First to the Moon. First to harness the Atom. This nation leads the world in cleaning our air and water, preserving our natural resources. We feed the world. We played major parts in settling two world wars. The last thing I need is to hear our own president (or anyone else) trying to tear down the great accomplishments of our citizens, our entrepreneurs, our inventors, our doctors and heroes of all trades. Americans have done great things for the world. Yes, wonderful things happened in other countries as well. But America is exceptional for an abundance of reasons, and I will debate anyone who thinks otherwise.

2.) I am a man, and I refuse to apologize for it.

I'm not just a male of the species Homo Sapiens. I'm a man, which means more. I believe in keeping my word to the best of my ability. I don't haggle; make me your offer, and make it a good one. Don't waste my time. And don't even think you can dishonor my family or friends with impunity. I love my family, and I lay my life down to provide for and protect them. I believe in a man's right to take care of his own problems within the bounds of the law, and I believe in a law structure that allows a man the freedom to do so, as necessary to address the situation.

Now, if someone differs with me on those platforms, you're free to do so. Yay you. But if you come after me in a way that attacks me as a person, or pours vitriol into a conversation without making a sound point, I will call you on it. I'll stay civil, but I'm going to start calling trolls out for who they are.

Now, let's actually have some discussions.