I was thinking about the whole concept of masculinity earlier. I realized that I have not adequately expressed my opinions; to wit, my Sack Up and Deal post could be taken to mean ‘Continue working within the system like good little worker drones’. That is NOT what I meant to say. The system is broken. I know this, you know this, heck, even Occupy Wall Street knows this. Family law is rigged against men, federal law discourages individual innovation, society is DEFINITELY hostile to risk-taking. These forces make it impossible to work within the system in the way we used to. So don’t. The process of reclaiming masculinity has already started; more and more men are refusing to marry. Good choice. I’d make the same one, if it were not for the restraints imposed by my religious beliefs. But that is only step 1. Step 2 is to start checking out completely. I have a major, all consuming goal in my life. I will not share it now; with any luck you will hear about my efforts on the news in the next fifteen or twenty years. Because it will take time. I live in a smaller apartment than I can afford, and do not drive. I am going to attempt to live without ever incurring debt again. Every dollar I can scrape together goes to this goal. And this goal is not one for myself; if I am successful, millions of people who would otherwise have died will live. If I am really lucky, I won’t make any major enemies while doing this, and if I am luckier still, nobody will ever know my name except for historians. That is what checking out means, and that is the only possible logical moral response when society abandons you. Change it. You are either part of the solution, or part of the problem.
As a caveat; there may be other logical responses, and logical ethical responses, but I reject the notion of a personal morality.
As a further caveat; mine is not the only way of effecting change. There are other ways to do it, but none of them involve mediocrity. Just saying.
There are two logical extremes available in life. Leaving aside any sacred/secular motivations, the extremes come down simply to this; do I live for myself or do I live for others? It only takes a brief glance at any given day’s news to discover which one most people choose. Contrary to what most self-improvement folks think and say (PUAs, motivational speakers, self help authors, etc.), it is actually really easy to make yourself happy. Altruism does not come easily to humans. All you have to do is suppress that “I should” voice in your head, and listen to the “I want to” voice. Boom. I just saved you a thousand dollar self-help conference.
The “I should” voice is a lot harder. The “I should” voice asks us to do things that aren’t comfortable. It asks us to do things that go against the grain. And it has to be exercised, unlike the “I want to” voice. If you let yourself (granted, you have to do it in a thoughtful, logical manner) do what you want to do, rather than what you feel like you should, then you can be happy, after a fashion. Alternatively, you could take the much sweeter (but much harder) road of doing what you should. The problem there is that our notions of correct behavior are at odds with our nature, and so are corrupted almost immediately. Contemplative seeking out of the proper action is necessary to enable us to do what we actually should do.
What does this have to do with Horace’s quote, you ask? Everything. What we ‘should’ do is deeply tied in with denial of self to the glorification of others. Denial is self-sacrifice. Whether you are a religious person or not, it is easy to see that many people we admire deeply are admired because of their self-sacrifice. Ghandi. Buddha. St. Francis. Jesus. All of these people, whether you agree with their transcendent teaching or not, are admirable because of their devotion to others. Horace said that it is a sweet and fitting thing to die for your country, and I think he was right, but the daily death of putting others first is far sweeter and more fitting, if a thousand times harder. This is what we have lost. There simply aren’t many Nathan Hales alive today (and I’ll bet that most of them are in the military), so how many fewer Ghandis or St. Francises must there be? That is who I want to be.
Oh, and by the way; that last phrase contains the entire point of this post. After a certain amount of practice (more in some cases, like mine), the “I want to” voice starts sounding a lot like the “I should” voice. It doesn’t work the other way around. I’ve tried.
First off, let me make a disclaimer; I have not mastered (or even, in a couple of cases, developed) the techniques I will hereinafter outline. These are largely theoretical at this point, but I rather think that they are the right way to do things.
I was contemplating the whole men’s rights movement recently, and I realized that we (in this case meaning men) are going about things almost exactly the wrong way. Men are campaigning (badly, and mostly being ignored) for equal rights under family law. We are pissing and moaning on the internet. We are checking out of society. We are using the enemy’s (in this case I use enemy to mean the feminist anti-men elite, not, repeat NOT women as a whole) tactics against them. This is a MISTAKE. Last I looked, we (humanity, not just men) use expressions referring to testicles to refer to people being bold, changing things, affecting their world, and daring to stand out. This world currently is a world that is replete with whiny protesters (viz. OWS) who don’t function in the modern world. This is not the manly way to do things. This is not the path of the testicle.
Let me make another disclaimer before I continue, however. I do not argue that women cannot be as good as men at anything. One of the women I respect most in this world is a highly skilled and talented mechanical engineer. She has managed government contracted projects, after graduating from a Big Ten engineering school in the late seventies. She worked certifying nuclear power plants during a time when engineering was a man’s job, and dealt with very real sexism and harassment in the workplace. She went on to raise three children, and then re-entered the workplace after spending fifteen years away from it, and quickly moved from just another mechanical engineer on the bottom of the company’s totem pole, to managing one of their major projects, and turned it (despite major contracting issues) into a profitable concern. This woman is driven, motivated, and VERY good at anything she sets her mind to, so long as it isn’t musical. To say that women can’t be successful in traditionally male pursuits would be moronic. Thus, I am not attempting to say that.
What I am attempting to say is that there are pursuits that require balls (metaphorical, in this case), and pursuits that don’t. Men, naturally endowed with a glorious pair, should generally try to do things in a way that maximizes their advantages. Counseling and support groups are not a constructive way to deal with problems. They are a fantastic way to deal with the emotions surrounding problems, however. Waving signs never accomplished anything useful, with the possible exception of union strikes (but it was more the refusal to work than the actual protesting. Notice the active verb in there?). Men shouldn’t be protesting. We shouldn’t be going to support groups in order to deal with our feelings when we find ourselves unemployed, robbed via divorce or child support, or passed over for a promotion in favor of a marginally qualified person who happens to have the law on her side.
We should go out and change things.
We should take risks.
We should reach down and fondle the wonderful gifts we were granted by nature, and, to quote Heartiste, say “Thing 1, Thing 2, I’m going to let you out of your cage again.”
We should sack up and be men.
I am currently doing the right thing. (Right by a certain definition. I’m not going to get into that, but there is a whole post in that phrase alone. A different post.) Some time ago, I decided that I was going to clean up my act. I was going to stop with the dating (let’s just leave it at dating, shall we?) of random girls who I didn’t have any long-term interest in, and I was going to actually try and be someone that a decent woman would have a long term interest in. Doing the right thing sucks sometimes.
When I initially made the decision, it was actually fairly easy. I was disillusioned with women in general, I was sick of casual ‘relationships’, and I was enjoying a brand new job in a new place. The first couple of months went by in a flash; no loneliness or ennui with life. Then I started to feel it. I missed calling a girl late in the day and talking, or the feeling of her (whoever she might be) hand in mine. There are those (see; who I was a year ago, for example) who would say just nut up and go meet girls. Yeah, okay, that is an option, but I’m not in a place where I can really start a long term relationship effectively, and I’m deliberately forgoing short term relationships. There the suckage enters in. You see, somehow I have absorbed this idea that I’m never supposed to admit that I’m lonely. It probably comes from some early childhood experience or other screwing with my ideas of how the sexes relate. Five years (or so) ago I started down the path of pickup, and that obviated it. Even just the casual chats helped. So I no longer had to hide the fact that I was crashingly, desperately alone. I wasn’t. Sadly, it was a bandaid solution. Physical contact and even shallow emotional contact helps, but they only mask the symptoms.
Recently, I’ve opened up to some people I trust a lot, and they keep telling me the same thing – to wit – “Be patient. She’ll come along.” Do people just not realize how offensive that is? Sometimes (not to be melodramatic) it feels like telling someone who is in physical pain to be patient, because pain fades. When you are in physical pain, you DO something about it. If you need it, you take powerful drugs that drive the pain away. But for whatever reason, we have this cultural rule that the only solution for emotional pain is patience. There has to be some line between passive waiting and man-whore, but there really doesn’t seem to be one that is logically consistent.
Here we get to the meat; the propositional logic.
A) Loneliness sucks.
B) There are methods that can quite effectively ensure relationships of a sort.
C) Genuine partnership requires vulnerability and openness, something contraindicated by B.
D) The only long term solution to loneliness is genuine partnership.
It can be readily demonstrated from these four propositions that the extrema of passivity and activity are mutually exclusive in the relational sphere, but that leaves one with a problem. Humans are creatures both of absolute extremes and very subtle nuance. I never really got practiced enough at game (I really only ever played when I was feeling particularly lonely; it is too high maintenance to play it the way someone like Roosh or Heartiste does) to get the nuance of playing different types of girls; I usually just went after the drunken college chicks. Maybe more practice (prohibited by the whole ‘right thing’ thing) would help with that, but obviously that isn’t really an option.
The question of God, religion, et. al. is ultimately a philosophical one. And, no, it is not some absurd philosophical question like “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” or even more interesting ones like “What is the nature of evil?” It is, ultimately, the only philosophical question that actually matters (although, depending on your answer, it might not matter). The question is this; am I prepared to base personal beliefs on subjective input, or only on things which are completely objective. It is REALLY not hard to justify either position, sadly. Those of us who have had religious experiences (even if the experience is something as ephemeral as just saying ‘I feel like it is true’) and accept them, feel the need to integrate them. As much as it galls me to admit this, though, without a religious experience of some sort (hereinafter shortened to theophany. Because I can. Look it up.) it is impossible to justify a belief in God. Materialists/naturalists refute these experiences as being irreproducible. Well, yeah, but so is a live musical performance. Your point? My belief in God (and for that matter, in Christ) in no way impinges on your rights to deny them. I am, of course, leaving aside those wingnuts who insist on teaching unverifiable pseudoscience, or legislating things that have no business being legislated, but those are rants for another day.
These are the times that try men’s souls. Never, in my memory, has Paine’s quote struck me as true as it does today. And the operative word here is men. Not humanity, but men. Not even males, but men. Men are under siege. Heartiste had an interesting article yesterday, but the really telling part came in the comments, here. Whether or not you read the article, the gist of the video (and the exchange following) is that an overweight woman’s bridal party sank at the end of the dock, and then she orders around her new husband in a completely (socially, even if you accept it in the bedroom for some reason) unacceptable way. Naturally, the regular readers of CH excoriate her mercilessly, and just as naturally there is a woman who jumps in to protest that not all men are like Heartiste’s readers. We shall return to this.
Following links (shame on me, I’m actually at work as I compose this. I take refuge in the fact that my current project has a lot of downtime, and 95% of my surfing and writing is done during that time), I eventually came across this article, and it finally clicked for me. Humanity is undergoing a sea change. I have long claimed (sometimes at great length, and with much arm waving) that humanity is speciating, into what I call (with no great originality) the Morlocks and the Eloi. This proves it ever more, but I think if you were to take someone from this day and age, project them even a hundred years into the future, and provide them with a rundown of the 2111 state of humanity, the overwhelming majority would claim that it is the exact opposite of what they want. It gets even worse a thousand or ten thousand years from now. The rest of that discussion is going to be reserved for a later post, however.
These two articles illustrate the current condition of the western man. Painting with a VERY broad brush, I shall claim that there are, fundamentally, three flavors of man extant. The men who don’t understand what is going on in the world (further subdivided into those who then check out to play GTA Dubuque forty odd hours a week, versus those who play along and marry an associate professor of Women’s Studies, versus inarticulately, incoherently and unproductively angry twenty-somethings), the men who do understand, but don’t care (PUAs, players, man-whores, call them what you will) and the men who understand and care, and want to do something about it. This last group is, sadly, the rarest of all. These are the men who women mean when they lament “Where have all the good men gone?” They are the men who will take the plunge into starting a family despite a stacked deck against them, KNOWING that they have just gambled their entire future on one person. They are the men who will put up with incompetent women being promoted over them, because they love their work and find it fulfilling. (As a side note, they will not care about the plumbing if the person being promoted over them is genuinely good at their job.) These are the men who jump in to defend the ‘blushing bride’ in the video above, but who, if they were called an idiot on their wedding day by their bride, would not hesitate a moment to call her out on it. They would do it in private, respectfully and lovingly, but there would be no doubt that that behavior was unacceptable. They would and will do all these things because they are the right things to do in their minds.
It isn’t the end of men alone; it is the end of society as we know it. For every two men that graduate with a bachelor’s, there are three women. Whoop dee do. Five percent of college graduates are engineers. About ten percent are pure scientists (harder to estimate, since what colleges call science varies hugely. Some colleges even have courses called Gender Science…. isn’t that just Reproductive Biology? At least, that is what it should be.) So about fifteen percent of graduates have a genuinely useful degree. (My numbers may be off on that part, but the next part is what is actually important.) Of those, how many are women? I don’t know, but I do know that 7% of tenured faculty in the engineering department of four year colleges (on average) are women. Prejudice alone cannot POSSIBLY account for that difference. I know too many engineers to believe that.
Okay, so my epiphany has turned into a disconnected ramble on gender politics; that is what happens when you take three hours to write an 800 word article, I guess. I may clean this up later, though.