Orin J. Hahn on why being a good man is a losing proposition from the start.
What kind of man are you?
That is one of those questions that can be spoken a million times throughout the course of a man’s life and hit him in a million different places. Spoken with admiration and pleased surprise, it can lift him up like a god, able to bestow a bounty that’s adored and imbue him with a connection to feeling limitless.
Of course, there’s always the chance that it’s spoken with question, doubt, incredulity. There are many types of pointed daggers that can be wrapped in the question of “What kind of man are you?”.
The delivery of that question allows so much pain in too many men, pain that we are helpless on first and even repeated stings to avoid, at least until we develop callouses and scars.
The reason such a simple collection of words can impart so much, good or bad, is because in our deepest hearts, below the masks we wear to get by and survive, we hunger for the pronouncement that we are good.
It is such a vast cavern of often unfulfilled desire for men that any road into acknowledging it can easily topple the best of us into an intellectual processing loop of trying to comprehend while simultaneously experiencing a wealth of feelings we’re often poorly able to digest.
Am I good yet?
The challenge starts when we are children with fairy tales and silly songs, whether its hearing of the heroic acts of brave knights and wondering if will we deliver, or listening to schoolyard taunts of, “Girls are sugar and spice and everything nice, boys are snips and snails and puppy dog tails”.
Either way, the message is the same: we will have to make our worth; it’s not inherent, it’s based on what we deliver. We are worthless ’til we put something out into the world. What that something is, we not only have to deliver and deliver well, but figure out how to create, acquire and bring forth.
That is the unspoken challenge behind any discussion of being “good”…it is a final destination that seems to move and taunt us, a place to go to that we may never arrive at.
So what about women? Do they get off easier from this challenge? Is the challenge of being good that different for them?
At first as we glimpse this challenge as men it can feel like that. It can be tempting to vilify, envy and hurl our pain at women, especially as we see how inherently desirable they seem to be. After all, they are the ones worth saving in the stories, the ones made of “sugar and spice”. They are the ones to be quested after, and on behalf of. So we come to resent them.
After all, what is resentment but simply a desire wrapped in fear and the dread that it will never be fulfilled?
There is a solution.
I propose that there is a better way. That there is a solution to this endless questing and the hostility towards women it can and does often breed.
The solution is to stop looking at the picture linearly and as a riddle we are alone in as men. To begin to realize that the desire and gift of being good lies within us all as humans, and the challenge is to go beyond our gender roles and ourselves.
It may seem like women have inherent worth and are therefore good from the start. In fact, that belief often corrupts and entraps women in roles to retain this goodness, to stay pure. To back away from all the adventuring and experience that we as men must engage in to claim our stake in being good.
The good and worth that seems so plentiful in women comes at the expense at knowing the world, at knowing themselves and discovering. A good woman stays good by being insulated from the richness of life.
They are fighting their own mirror image of the fight we fight. The trap of being good does not look any more fulfilling when viewed through their eyes than the constant search for it does to us as men. And the resentment lies within them too, knowing that we can search, that we can pursue as men with a wider range of acceptance.
Is this any more empowering than feeling forced to search for it?
I propose this; we take a moment to laugh at the folly, to grieve for the pain created in the great misunderstanding of it all. That we take time to apologize for never realizing the pointless point we’ve held each other to. We need to turn to our fellow brothers and see their goodness and acknowledge it for simply being. As men we need to turn to our sisters in this struggle and tell them we get it. That the battle to quest or to stay pure when based on a static goal is killing us.
In short we need to declare ourselves and all we encounter good. And then, then maybe we will fill those caverns and lose our resentments.
And now wouldn’t that really begin to create a good unseen so far?
See the original at Orin Hahn’s Blog