Be A Man
The only way to reduce the violence is to get our boys outside.
See, I am a man. What that means first and foremost is that I am a human. I suffer, I bleed, I cry and laugh and walk and raise animals and build things. I do what I need to do.
I’ve worked hard to get to this point, where I can be outdoors as much as possible working with nature. Overall, I see that there is a lack of ability for most humans to express their humanness - we live in a chemical-electronic society, created by our brains but lacking in most of the primal activities that our bodies desire and need, in order to feel and be fully alive.
I think that the vast majority of the population of modern society is, to some extent, bored out of their collective minds, and so they come up with endless distractions in order to make sure they don’t fully see the poverty of spirit that they are living in, even in the midst of an endless chemical-electronic playground all around. (Caveat: I don’t usually like to separate people into “us” and “them” and yet I can’t count myself as one of them anymore, so I must.)
They are, most of them, totally lacking in all real skills and abilities. I was one of them once, and I’ve decided (I’ve made a choice) not to become one of them again.
You could say that my basic theory of mankind is that those who seize power, that those who hunger to have dominion over others, are fundamentally lacking in any real capability to function in the natural world, or that they lack healthy relationships with their communities.
In general, those men who feel a lack of control over themselves or their environment, in one way or another, end up becoming the miserly CEOs or lying Presidents or drug-fueled rock stars of this world. They feel the need to prove something to the world: That they are in complete and utter control over all things. In the natural world, those who have mastery (I use the term mastery as in “master carpenter” or “master mechanic”) over themselves and their environment have nothing to prove.
Men have created societies and constructed laws and religions in order to suit their needs, it is true. If a man can’t see that, he is blind and ignorant. Men have done that, and now we need to move on and dismantle the repressive machinations that we have built up, and finally let anyone who wants to join our little fight club do so.
But then I come back to a question that has surfaced in my mind a lot recently: What the heck does it even mean to be a man in this day and age? Or more to my actual point: Is there any place in this society for the so-called “manly man”, a man who hunts, fishes, farms, fixes, heals, grows, and basically has mastery over the skills required to exist in the outdoors, whether on private property or in the wild?
The urban man is thriving. Shiny new pickup trucks are common in the suburbs that have never seen a dirty branch.
But meanwhile, the outdoorsman, the “manly man” as it were, is slowly going the way of “snail mail”, and yet where would we be without actual delivery of real mail and parcels to our home and business? The difference between the outdoorsman and the urban man is the difference between roasting a deer carcass over a bonfire or posting a meme on social media. One exists in the real world of knives and dirt, and the other in an internet-fueled glass building made of thought and cleverness.
Maybe we need a litmus test for any president, male or female: Can they raise a goat from birth to death, slaughter it, and then prepare a delicious meal for their friends, while also tanning the hide for a throw rug?
I’m not even kidding that much. Even now we can see what a president who doesn’t care for a dog is like. In my book, you have to at least own a dog to be welcome into the realm of the fully human. It’s just part of our DNA.
I imagine many people who live in the cities like I once did will argue these points with me. There are many ways to live, they will say. I agree, but I know where I want to be when the Zombie apocalypse happens and it ain’t in your third story apartment, without any guns or stockpiled water.
Even though I jest, there is a huge lack of basic survival skills out there, and I’m just talking about how to go a few hours without electrical power.
As is continually demonstrated each year, the changing weather patterns can cause chaos in any populated area, and wipe out power and services overnight. Meanwhile, most of us have only a couple days worth of food in the fridge and no way to get any more, other then go to the grocery store. We have no way to stay warm in the winter other then the propane furnace. We have no way to protect our families other then a kitchen knife and some third grade karate.
Perhaps the biggest difference between an urban man and an outdoorsman is preparation. The outdoorsman already knows that anything can happen, and if it can it will, so the most important aspect of survival is preparation, physically and mentally. The outdoorsman can take care of himself in as many ways as possible.
But here is the catch. I am also talking about outdoorswoman or any outdoorsperson. Anybody, no matter their skin color, orientation, sexual preference, social status, religion, or what have you, anybody can connect to their basic human selves and learn how to be a physical human being in nature again, which to me means being connected to and having skills that let you thrive in the out of doors. This realm is the primary realm where we live, and the artificial realm of the electrical grid and internet videos that we placed over it is so fragile that it can break at the drop of a power line.
Perhaps there is a certain reluctance to acknowledge that basic reality, maybe because it is a scary reality that we don’t want to face. But, in general, fear stems from unaddressed problems. Many times we can banish a fear by looking head-on at the problem without flinching.
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
-Frank Herbert, Dune
The outdoorsman is an independent person that lives within many communities, including his family, friends, and township. And all the natural communities are just as important as those human communities, in my book.
In our modern culture, there is an absence of male ritual that allows men to become boys. Men are staying boys for much longer, perhaps indefinitely. Growing up into a “real man” isn’t perceived as something that is important, or even worthy of pursuit. Perhaps this is because there is such a flawed idea of what that entails, in the media and popular culture. I mean, a real man isn’t Wolverine from the X-men — that, if you don’t know by now, is a fictional world.
Inflammatory phrases like “real man” or “ manly man” are partly to blame. Really, I’m not talking about straight white men, alone. I’m talking about everybody who identifies as a man. We all, as men, need to go through some sort of ritual to understand, on a conscious and subconscious level, that we have made it past our boyhoods, and now we are the caretakers and stewards of our communities, along with our counterparts.
Sometimes we have to create our own rituals.
To begin to create these rituals, or to welcome them back into or daily lives, we can simply begin to hike, hunt, camp, fish, track, or plant a garden with our sons. But for the love of god, we need to get our boys back out into the natural world. The future of the whole goddamned world depends on it.
So how do boys become men? Is it super regressive to think that they need to be taught, that they need to learn skills and go through rituals from men in order to learn what it means to be a man?
I learned what it means to be a man from my own father, and over the course of my own life I’ve come up with a definition that works for me. A man, as opposed to a boy, understands what it means to be a person within the circle of life and death. A boy can only grasp onto the idea of life and what it means to him, and when he becomes a man he begins to understand the idea of death and what it means for all of us that are living.
There is no way a man, by definition, can shoot up a classroom full of children. These boys, maddened by the chemical-technological realm and countless other interpersonal and psychological issues, are murderous boys that may never understand what a treasure life is in comparison to the darkness that is death.
We must bring our boys to the endless classroom of nature in order to show them the circle of life and death.