We ask a serious question. It’s one that most of us have pondered. But it’s one, we bet, most have never given any real thought to.
We just spent four days in the high desert mountains of Utah. We bunked up with 28 other men at 6,400 feet, all with a singular purpose. Our aim was to answer a question… a tough question.
What is a man?
Everywhere we look, we see what society thinks a man is supposed to be.
Turn on the TV and you’ll see somebody’s view – certainly not ours – of what it means to be a man.
The image is wrong. And it scares us.
MAN, WHAT’S WRONG?
Modern man is most often portrayed as a dolt. He has no ability to support his family and gets no respect from those around him, especially his kids.
We saw it from Fred Flintstone, the unsophisticated caveman… then Al Bundy, the misogynistic and helpless shoe salesman who hated his wife… and Homer Simpson, the most doltish and disrespected of them all.
It’s the same on the big screen. Men are either super-sleek womanizers or boorish, middle-aged men whose wives talk about them behind their backs.
We know – like all stereotypes – the image is bunk.
And yet our culture lets the idea into our collective brain, like fertile seeds just waiting for a springtime rain.
Sadly, we look around and we see the roots starting to spread.
Men are succumbing to the stereotype.
So many are now proud of the things they can’t do. They bless modern society for allowing them to stay on the couch on Sunday instead of getting outside and adding to the calluses on their hands.
They take pride in depending on others.
They take pride in not having to do it for themselves.
And, somehow, they think it’s okay to leave their family behind. (One in six kids now spends less than two hours each week with a male role model. Scary.)
It makes us hang our head. Surely our definition of a man doesn’t include the words “dolt” or “dependent.” And it certainly says nothing about abandoning our responsibilities.
Why, then, does the modern man have such a nasty image? Why is all this acceptable?
THE FUN-HOUSE EFFECT
Psychologists have spent a lot of time studying such things. This trend worries them, too.
We narrow our conclusion to a combination of two ideas. One is called “mirroring.” The other is “molding.”
They’re both nasty.
Mirroring is perhaps the scariest concept. If it has more weight in our equation, men are in trouble. It means what we see on TV or on the big screen is, indeed, a reflection of reality.
The concept tells us what we see is who we truly are. It tells us that TV is little more than a fun-house mirror that merely distorts the good and magnifies the bad.
If that’s the case… our society has a very low opinion of men.
It’s not good.
Molding, on the other hand, offers hope. It simply means the folks behind the images are hoping to steer us in a certain way.
Perhaps they truly are working to demasculinize men. More likely, though, they’re simply trying to squeeze us into a plot… a plot that will put some coin in their pocket.
Really, it doesn’t matter where the truth lies. One idea leads to the other.
Again, we must only turn our head and look around. The definition of a man is changing.
It scares us.
That’s long been the point of this passion project. We aim to, well, “man up” and do what we can.
We continue to point to three critical traits… our Triad. They are Liberty, Know-How and Connections.
Master them and you’re on your way to a fulfilled, strong life.
We got serious about each of them over the weekend.
We honed our Know-How while sending rounds downrange with a Navy SEAL. We enhanced our ability to maintain Liberty by exploring escape and evasion techniques with a former Green Beret (yes, we bled). And our Connections are stronger than ever as we spent more than 72 hours connecting with like-minded men from across the country – men we had never met before.
Most important, though, we spent a lot of time pondering what it means to be a man.
Our definition is solid. We’re convinced.
But we fear it doesn’t match society’s definition.
That scares us.