The ongoing process of “being a Man” is complex and confusing. It’s important to look at where “being a man” came from in order to understand where Men are today; and why where they are today is dangerous.
Humble and Primitive Beginnings
Men are taught when they are boys that being a man requires physical strength and a willingness to use it. Wells don’t dig themselves, gents. Wood doesn’t come self chopped, fellas. Pickle jars lids are always snug, chaps. Without the physical tools to perform certain tasks: we’d be dirty, thirsty, and cold in (the dark) eating sandwiches without a tangy, crunchy zip to them. Physically, the manual for being a Man looks like this:
How To – Be a Man. A guide for boys.
Roll up your sleeves (if you’re wearing any at all) and get after it! Push, pull, heave, trench, sweat, swear and muscle at the task until it’s done.
(I imagine this being comic strips and maybe an article on lawn maintenance)
Mentally, the process of being a man is much less straightforward and it has changed drastically. 100 years ago (give or take), a man had to view every other man as a threat. And rightfully so! If another man wanted what was yours (your house, land, horses, etc.) he challenged you to a duel for it. The only thing worse than drawing second, and losing that challenge, was refusing it altogether. Think about that: showing weakness was a fate worse than DEATH.
Men had to constantly be on guard and keep their emotions in check in order to live to see another sunrise. Some men still believe this world-view is completely necessary. And this is where our problem begins. Newsflash: you will not be dueling another man over a clam-shell of mixed greens anytime soon. Despite this fact, men still act like every other man is just looking for an opportunity to pounce! This defensive outlook has seeped into how Men maintain their health. The reality is: the single largest danger facing men today is themselves.
The New Tough
The hard part of embodying what it is to be a Man these days is overcoming the preconceived notions, fabricated conditions and outdated traditional rituals that we are led to believe we cannot or should not change. Despite the fact that in the last 100+ years, everything has changed. Men don’t hunt in loincloths anymore, they go to Safeway.
The New Tough is recognizing this change. It means showing emotion and being a Human; not just a Man. It is being confident enough to see a doctor because living is more important than what a lesser man thinks of you. It also means being sympathetic toward that lesser mans and helping him see the stigma. A man recognizes he can be hurt both physically and mentally (heck , even Superman has kryptonite and a soft-spot for the human race…and nobody questions his toughness). “The New Tough” is being man enough to recognizing that the world has changed and that to keep our physical and mental health in check we need to change with it.