What is a man? cont’d

Welcome to the next installment of my impromptu series on what constitutes a “real” or “good” man.

Several weeks ago my son called me to talk about his girlfriend. He was upset and needed an ear and possible some advice. He has been involved in a long-distance relationship for 18 months (she lives 60 miles from him and goes to school 100 miles from him). He loves her and for the longest time felt that the feeling was mutual. Lately, he feels that she isn’t investing as much in their relationship as he is. It is not lost on him that he is doing a lot of driving for very little actual time with her. He described her behavior to me as cold, distant, unaffectionate. His “I love you’s” were met with a nod or a “um hmmm.”
“Dad,” he said, “I need more than that. I’m an affectionate guy. I need to know she’s as invested as I am.”
“So what do you want to do?” I asked him.
“I’m going to break up with her. But I have to wait 6 long days to see her again.”
Fishing for the right answer I asked,
“You can do it over the phone.” (To be clear I wasn’t advocating this, I was testing him).
“No.” He paused. I need to do this face to face.”
The kid has it. The third, not necessarily third in importance but in my blog, trait of a good man. Integrity. He made his ol’ Dad pretty proud right then.

Integrity.
Integrity is a word thrown around a lot, mostly by people who don’t have it. In short layman’s terms, Integrity is doing the right thing. The right thing is often the hardest thing to do. In the case of my son, he knew that a text or a phone call would do the job but it wouldn’t be the right way to do it. Even though he was hurt, upset and annoyed at his girlfriend, consideration for her feelings was paramount. Doing what is right, not expedient or easy is the very definition of integrity.

As a society we have come to rely on what is quick. On what is easy. And sadly, what we can get away with. Only when it is convenient do some ask what the right course of action is. I suspect that deep down inside we all know what the right thing to do is in any situation. It may not be the easiest, cheapest or most convenient but it is right there in the forefront of the mind of any morally virtuous person. A good man always strives to do the right thing…even when no one is looking. A man of integrity makes sure that what he says and does are in alignment. I’m proud to say that my son is a man of integrity.

In order to reconcile the man with the image, one must be able to take a hard and unflinching look at himself and make changes if needed. Therefore the next, and I think related virtue of a good man is that of humility.

Humility.
Humility is the antithesis of hubris and arrogance. A humble man does not take himself too seriously because to be full of oneself you are not allowing room for others. A humble man knows the world around him and exactly where he fits into it. When charitable, he is not concerned about accolades and recognition. He values accomplishment and achievement and satisfying a need, all the while motivated by integrity, his inner desire to do the right thing for the right reasons.

I have known many great and humble men and I strive to be like them. Men who are genuinely more concerned with you then they are with themselves. Men who accept criticism as a means to self improvement yet are slow to criticize others. Men who are involved but want to blend into a crowd, not stand on a mount waving a flag that says “look at me!”

A real, humble man wants everyone to achieve and be happy, not seek an advantage of perceived superiority over others. We need more men of integrity and humility in this age of relative morality and rampant egoism.

to be continued…

Humility

Some would be scantily clad if only clothed in humility.”
Author unknown.

Inspiration indeed comes from many places. The above quote was displayed on the local church billboard. It’s not original, but it’s great.

Humility is a virtue. It is a value. It is a moral construct. It is also woefully absent in today’s world.

Webster defines humility as a modest or low view of one’s own importance. How many people do you know that act in accordance with this?

It’s difficult today. We live in the “selfie” era. The age of “look at me”. Social media has created an atmosphere of constant exposure, of the creation of celebrity, which is merely the status of being famous for being famous. No merit requested or required. We measure our worth by the number of followers we have, many of them not unlike WordPress.com followers…I follow you in hopes that you will follow me.

Sigh…

I find myself wanting to reach out to some people and tell them to “get over themselves”. Explain to them that I know who they are, what I want to know is what do they do? Do you contribute to society at large or do you use society to contribute to you? The least accomplished generation is also the most documented.

I am a firm believer that our deeds define us. I believe in Service. I believe that we are, in large part, here for the benefit of each other. Sure, some cynic will ask, “if we’re here for others than what are others here for”. That is when I am forced to amend it and say, “we are here for each other.”

I used to be an enormous follower of Ayn Rand. Her philosophy of Objectivism appealed to my conservative sensibilities. She taught that man is innately a creature of reason, craving accomplishment and achievement. She consequently dismissed the less accomplished in our world as victims of their own choices and should be left to pull themselves up and only then will they be worthy. I broke with her on this. By that logic, screw the addict, screw the homeless and screw anyone else who made a mistake in life. She called for the embracing of selfishness. While I do understand what she meant, that we owe it to ourselves to chase our own happiness, she neglected to touch on the value-added proposition of the achievement felt when helping someone. Most especially those that have nothing to offer you in return. I have experienced this and it is an achievement indeed. It made me a better person.

Today, people will step over a bleeding body in the street. They will film a person getting beaten and bullied and not attempt to help. The “hits” on the YouTube video matter more than helping another human being. They will blame the media, the video game, the music of the era but will never acknowledge that they only care about something in relation to how it affects them. They would be naked and cold if only clad in their humility.

Chase your goals. Work towards your dream. Achieve and accomplish. But remember that as you climb the ladder it is important that you remember not to kick on the way up what you may have to kiss on the way down. People are not stepping stones, they are our fellow residents on this earth. Our deeds are forever, and they are how we are remembered. The best deeds are anonymous ones, they are the embodiment of charity. It doesn’t matter how many people know what it is that you did…you’ll know. If someone finds out, be humble. Think less about yourself and more for others.

Think of your upcoming funeral. Will someone say, in hushed tones, “I can’t believe there are so few people here, she had a huge Instagram following and thousands of FB friends.”

Stay humble and fully clothed my friends, it’s worth it in the end.