This is the second part of the series of articles under the title – The Lost Manhood. If you haven’t read part 1, I suggest you read it here.
The tenet of the code of manhood is deeply involved with what I usually discussed here before – deep life. In the past, I tried to introduce great examples of men executing deep work into their lives. For someone new to my blog, deep life is a way of life that demand focusing on things that matter the most.
To be more clear, it involves identifying one’s daily activities and his long term purposes or goals and executing such activities in an undistracted environment. It’s a daily ritual that perfects the hard skills contributing to his long term goals.
Ancient Roman emperors to Hollywood director Christopher Nolan, all those men who have excelled in their life and work knew that a life lead in depth is most fulfilling and the key to excellence.
Identifying one’s priorities above the noise and acting out is a show of character and virtue. It’s a result of indomitable will and courage. As I was reading the book “Manliness in Making” by David D. Gilmore, I learnt that the code of manhood also asks the same – Identify one’s priorities as a show of character and virtue.
So by learning to live by the code of manhood, one will be living a deep life. Both man and women strive for the same virtue in life. But both of them attain them by embarking different routes. It’s like two different musical instruments playing the same notes but make different sounds.
Manliness in the Modern World
When I first described the code of manhood in part 1, one comment I received was it’s absolutely nonsense to think about manliness in a modern world where there is no need for violence or manly work.
There are two reasons for such a comment.
First is modern-day men see manliness in a negative shade. Cartoonish images of men acting out to be more violent and dominant have clouded the concept of manliness.
“The older I grow, the more everything seems to me to lie in manliness. This is my new gospel.” –Vivekananda
Over two thousand years, great thinkers have considered manliness as a virtue by itself or a culmination of virtues as expressed in the life of a man. Greek philosophies linked manliness to the longevity of a society.
“Do not yield to unmanliness, O Partha, it is not worthy of you.”– [Gita 2:3]
In eastern manuscripts like Bhagavat Gita, manliness was a character a man has to achieve to earn self-respect. Lord Krishna exhorts Arjuna to be a man in the true sense of the word. Become a strong person with self-respect and living up to one’s ideals and thereby maintaining a life of courage. Manliness was a virtue that has to be actively pursued. In eighteenth-century great leaders used the power of manliness to lead their nation towards democracy and independence.
“Manliness consists not in bluff, bravado or loneliness. It consists in daring to do the right thing and facing consequences whether it is in matters social, political or other. It consists in deeds, not words.” – Mahatma Gandhi
“We need the iron qualities that go with true manhood. We need the positive virtues of resolution, of courage, of indomitable will, of power to do without shrinking the rough work that must always be done.” – Theodore Roosevelt
But during the mid-twentieth century when the cultures were experimented with gender neutrality, considering manliness as a specific virtue began to diminish. As life became easier and culture became soft, achieving manliness became a tough one for the lazy-softened man living in luxury and comfort. Gradually laughing about manliness became an easier thing to do than to practice.
The second reason for men giggling when they hear about manliness is – they like to frame their definition of manliness in a way that most suits their personality and beliefs. They like to define manliness in a way that best describes themselves and criticize where there is less alignment.
The Three Pillars of Manhood
Dr Gilmore set out to conduct a cross-cultural analysis of how masculinity is perceived in cultures around the world. In his analysis, he arrived at three distinct imperatives of what constitutes a “real man”. A male who aspires to live by the code of manhood and become a man must – protect, procreate and provide. A woman reader can also follow along a few of the ideas here since living by a character and virtue will always be beneficial irrespective of gender.
“The quintessence of manliness is fearlessness, readiness to defend one’s own pride and that of one’s family.” –Julian Pitt-Rivers, The People of the Sierra
This must be the cornerstone of manliness. Many who advocates about manhood give less significance to this pillar and focus on the others. In my belief, protect is the leverage point of everything about the man. It simply constitutes courage, physical and mental strength and quiet confidence in a man.
He has to own and protect everything about and around him. Under pressure, a man should be able to show emotional intelligence. A man should establish the boundary and stand at it to protect his family. He should be the one standing in between his people and everything in the outside world.
Skills in using tools and strategies should be cultivated by a man. There is a reason men have more physical strength than women and he should acknowledge it to maintain and make use of that. Going to the gym or doing strength training should not be considered as something for the fitness freak. A man is meant to have a certain level of strength and endurance. Even for someone who says he is not passionate about fitness should ask himself what good things would have a strong physique bring him. In the end, the question is if someone pushes you or your family back, can you push that person back.
Procreate means a man’s ability to lead a relationship and reproducing another generation that extends his pride and lineage. It’s a wide concept and requires more experience and maturity from my part to explain it fully. But what I could add is that there has been a complacency from the modern men in successfully leading a relationship. Man has become less of a second in a relationship and handed over the control to women to take the initiative in everything. But the truth is most men do this not because of giving equal opportunities to the opposite gender but because of lack of confidence and feeling of rejection. The biological and emotional upper hand of man should be used to take the initiative and lead his relationships.
Historically man used to gather the food for his family. He was physically more strong to travel kilometres and fought and hunt animals. So the duty of providing to a family vested in a man. “Providing” is the culmination of all the attributes of a man. Strength, emotional intelligence, mastery of tools, leadership, discipline, determination etc are required to provide his family. A man should be constructively resourceful. The ability to make use of scarce resources into meaningful output comes under this pillar. A man should be the one providing a lion’s share of resources to his family. There is a great sense of self-reliance and independence a man can enjoy by being the provider.
Are these still relevant today?
Someone would think these are the pillars of the ancient lifestyle of man and are not even relevant and are more sexist. Like my friend who says “manliness is meaningless” and “the three pillars are outdated” without even having any discussion is depressing for me. One thing is true that one cannot follow the exact ancient code of manhood in modern times but could follow many rules that are proved true by the test of time. Anyway one cannot be the batman without the qualities of Bruce Wayne.
The ultimate concept of manhood as far as I went with the subject and the three pillars is to take leadership and extreme ownership of everything around him. To support that he has to develop character and virtue. When a man acknowledges his manhood it is easier for him to lead a deep and meaningful life.
The next question is how one can execute the code of manhood in modern times. Wait until the next and last part of this series where I will show you some practical ways. Until then – Virile agitur.