My background in science has led me to appreciate word choice and the implications that details have on understanding terms. As with any exercise of critical thinking, the manner in which a question is framed determines the answer one reaches. Considering the term “enlightened masculinity” with this in mind suggests a consideration of the phrase itself.
The term “enlightened masculinity” suggests that masculinity is modified by the word enlightened. The implication is that masculinity in itself is not enlightened, and needs modification. The related question, do I consider myself enlightened, addresses the shortfall in the term “enlightened masculinity”.
In many of my observations and conversations with others, it seems that many people have some insight into themselves in a few aspects. However, some aspects of our personalities are beyond our consciousness. Share enough vulnerability with someone long enough and you’ll find that sometimes they know you better than you want.
I view being enlightened as the awareness of oneself, including awareness of where I cannot see. Cars have mirrors to help see, but blind spots exist. Similarly, my enlightenment is being aware of what lies in full view, what I see indirectly, and those areas I know exist—but contents I cannot determine.
My masculinity encompasses my worldview and my place in the world. Thus, when I am in my masculinity, I am enlightened. The direction of causation is important. My masculinity is within me, but the manner in which I project this energy is where the importance lies. I relate to men who seek to go forth, explore, and engage others and the environment.
The men who have exemplified masculinity in my life were aware of themselves and their place in the world. The late Phil Smart was a car dealer, but had a vocation for children, or Irv Marr who took time to know a person. Both men are well known within the sphere they choose to influence within Seattle, Washington. They were both aware of how their talents could better their community.
Other men who have projected their masculinity outward in a thoughtful, positive manner include Ed Viesturs, and the recently deceased Warren Miller. Viesturs developed a reputation as a mountain climber who valued his own life above the glory of summiting despite pressure to do otherwise. Miller, meanwhile, brought the joy of alpine skiing to the masses and inspired others to give the sport a try or get ready for another season.
Living in my own masculinity, I am enlightened to my talents and the needs of my community and surroundings. But it’s from my masculine energy that I choose to act.
Enlightenment is not sufficient for me to be masculine. In the words of C.S. Lewis’ book “The Screwtape Letters”:
“The more often he (a man) feels without acting, the less he will be able ever to act, and, in the long run, the less he will be able to feel.”
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