More Than A Human

The Way It Should BeOver the past several weeks, I’ve been on both coasts. I delayed this post by a few days so as to leave some question as to which coast I’m referring. This is to maintain a vow of confidentiality, which will make more sense as you read on. The genesis of this writing project, The Mantastic Revival, was a realization that the authentic man is an endangered species. Moreover, an endangered species that continues to be ruthlessly hunted by those who would just as soon it become extinct. Since then, these suspicions have been confirmed in a thousand small ways. Until voilà, definitive proof, on a recent business trip on one of the two American coasts and an unexpected conversation with the manager of a local pub.

I had finished the day’s meetings a bit early, purposefully, because I was meeting an associate for a drink after work. He and I happened to be in the same city for different reasons and were going to discuss some potential business between our two companies. I arrived at the pub a bit early and ordered a drink only to received a text that he had been detained in a meeting across town and would be an hour late. Knowing that I had a business dinner starting in just over an hour, we decided to meet by phone in the next few weeks. Having already ordered a drink, I asked the waitress to point me in the direction of the restrooms but to leave my table as I would be back to finish my drink and collect the bill. To my surprise, I found myself standing in front of two doors one with a sign that said “Women” and the other with a sign that said “Human”. I stood in surprise, having never seen anything like this before in my life. I’m a fairly bright guy, so I knew which room I belonged in so that wasn’t the issue. I was just astonished by what I was seeing. I didn’t get my own room? Now I know what you are thinking. That’s on “the coast” and whichever one, we all know that crazy stuff happens on the coasts. My friends, while much of the crazy does indeed originate on the coasts, in time, it works its way toward the middle. That is a fact. Dumfounded, I took out my phone, took a picture of the signs, then entered the ambiguous room labeled “Human”. I’ve never been happier to see a urinal in all of my life. I returned to my table with a half-hour to spare before diner. No sooner had a sat, than a man in his late twenties came to my tableside. He introduced himself and we awkwardly shook hands. From here on, I will call him barkeep or BK for short.  Taking notes would have been rude, so this is not an exact transcript of our conversation – but it is close and to the best of my recolection.

Me:      Can I help you?
BK:      The waitress noticed you taking a picture of the bathroom signs, I’m just wondering why?
Me:      I’ve never seen anything like that before, I knew people back home wouldn’t believe me.
BK:      So you’re not going to post it online anywhere?
Me:      Perhaps. I hadn’t thought about it. I suppose I’ll wait and see.
BK:      Bro, can you help me out. I don’t need the drama. I swear the owner is going to fire me if we have any more drama. This whole thing is ridiculous and every time someone from out-of-town posts it, the whole thing blows up again. I’ll tell you what, I’ll comp your tab if you’ll just let it go … one guy doing a solid for another guy.
Me:      I’ve only had one drink … not much of a deal. But here’s what I’ll do. You sit down with me and tell me the whole story, and I’ll delete the picture. You can watch me delete it.
BK:      You don’t have time for the whole story but I’ll hit the high points.
Me:      Deal … there, picture deleted, I’m listening.
BK:      So this is a small place in a historical building, what you see is what you get, I mean really, we barely have room for the two restrooms we have. So for some reason, that none of us knows, someone got pissed at the owner, he was a former employee and claimed he was discriminated against. The owner of this place is a nice guy, about your age, but he is a little old school. The former employee was into cross-dressing, which we all knew, but eventually started dressing like a woman at work. Dude, none of us cared … the owner didn’t care … the customers didn’t care, it was a non-issue. Until he wanted to use the woman’s bathroom. From there, things got really weird. The owner told him he couldn’t. I thought, dude, it’s a single, what’s the big deal. But they made it a big deal and it all blew up from there. Protests, lawsuits, the whole thing was a mess. So they ended up having something called a mediator. The first thing they tried was to just turn the restrooms into unisex. They just put signs up that said “restroom one” and “restroom two”. But the problem is that restroom one had a seated toilet and restroom two had a urinal and a seated toilet. So they weren’t really unisex, and adding a urinal to the other room wasn’t an option … I don’t know why. The a group of women customers got together and basically said they would not come back unless there was a dedicated “women’s bathroom” The owner didn’t want to lose business but he wasn’t willing to back down. He said having woman parts makes you a woman, not wearing a dress. I though we were going to go out of business, I really did. But then the mediator said, what if you have a dedicated women’s restroom and on unisex room. The former waiter/waitress agreed as long as it didn’t say “men” anywhere on the sign … and the “human” restroom was born.
Me:      Now I need another drink. Is that true? That can’t be true.
BK:      Yea, it is, I was here for most of it. Anyway, things are just starting to quiet down now and you were the second person today to take a picture so I got a little paranoid.
Me:      So do any guys ever complain?
BK:      Straight guys?
Me:      Okay, I guess?
BK:      Gay guys won’t complain because they would sound like total hypocrites and c’com, straight guys complain … who would listen anyway? No offense, I’m just saying …
Me:      I kinda want to be offended, but I think you are correct.

BK and I chatted for a few more minutes, and I told him about my blog and asked if I could write about our encounter. I told him that the picture was deleted, I would wait about a week, and I wouldn’t name the bar, the city, or him.   He was reticent but resigned that he really couldn’t stop me if he wanted to.   He had said too much already, but I think he wanted to tell his story. Now I’m not writing to take a position on some sociopolitical hot button … that’s not my deal and would be counter productive to the cause at this juncture. I write for guys and about guys and bring this up as proof positive of a society that totally devalues males in every way. What struck me most was how every fiber of my being wanted to get angry when BK reminded me of what I already knew … males have lost our voice in some areas of the world, and are heading that direction in others. We don’t even get our own place to use the bathroom anymore. It is just one obscure pub in one town on one coast, it’s certainly not a trend; however, every male alive should sit up and take notice. This is a symptom of the greater illness, which is the slow but sure erosion of authentic manhood. From bronies to barroom restrooms, I’ll keep telling these stories because every time I do … more guys wake up and join the revival.

You? Who Are You?

I was, and am today, a terrible driver. I’ve given up on improving; I just accept that driving isn’t my strong suite. In fact, I am so bad at driving that I am thankful for the “honkers” out there, they are a much needed source of direction for me. I fully utilize all aspects of the road design, including the rumble strips, which help remind me which lane I am in and that I need to stay there. It’s really always been this way and consequently, from the ages of sixteen to eighteen, I went thru a few different autos. I finally ended up in a 1988 Dodge 600, champagne color with burgundy interior. It was my Mom’s car, which I was given to “borrow” after wrecking my moms “other car”, but somehow ownership eventually passed to me. To this day, I have no idea where my parents sourced the unending patience to deal with all of my antics. Continue reading

The Big Four

It is hard to believe that the revival is twenty days old already and that this week will be my sixth post to the blog. A lot has happened this past week and I am so excited to see that, we hit new records on the number of views for the blog. That tells me that the message is resonating and connecting with you.   I get the pleasure of meeting some of you in person every once in a while and your feedback is really important to me. Please keep forwarding the site to your friends and be sure to send them to the intro page since it is the best place for a newcomer to begin.

In this weeks post I will dig deeper into four foundational questions that every male needs to answer, if indeed, he wants to be a real man. In addition, we will take a look at the four frames that one can use as one seeks to root out incoherence in his worldview. I want to thank you for sticking with me as we go through some of these hard topics. There are so many practical truths that I almost can’t wait to share with all of you; however, wouldn’t feel right in doing so without first addressing these foundational things. As you may recall, the four questions are:

  1. Where did I come from (The Question of Origin)?
  2. Why am I here (The Question of Purpose)?
  3. What are the rules (The Question of Morality)?
  4. What happens when I die (The Question of Destiny)?

If you recall from last week, I made that case that, as males, we were not made for relativistic thinking, but that our very nature craves absolutes. Being a man is about a certain degree of absolute thinking, which leads to the kind of absolute living that enables us to lead and love in the ways we were designed. In addition, I attempted to make the case that cognitive dissonance, caused by incoherence or conflict among these core beliefs is to blame, at least partly, for the fact that males, on the whole, are being marginalized in the western world. Towards the resolution of that, I have proposed four frames that you can use as you sure up your worldview:

  1. Naturalistic
  2. Pantheistic
  3. Polytheistic
  4. Monotheistic

Which frame you chose to use to answer life’s four questions, is entirely up to you; however, this is the first absolute you must decide. If you think you can get by with the selection of a naturalistic view of human origin and mix in a little monotheism when it comes time to answer the question of destiny, then you need to go back and read last week’s post. It simply isn’t possible. A cohesive and coherent worldview is one that is answered consistently within a frame.

Sociologist Daniel Bell defined culture as “the effort to provide a coherent set of answers to the existential questions that confront all human beings in the passage of their lives.” That is exactly what I am referring to here and notice the use of the word coherent, just in case you think I am presenting to you some new fangled and untested concepts and ideas.

I sincerely hope you were very intentional about carving out some time over the past week to consider your own worldview. I cannot stress enough the importance of rooting out incoherence and disagreement in your fundamental beliefs. I will go so far to say that if you have an inconsistent worldview that is riddled with conflicts and disagreements in core beliefs, there is no hope for you to find peace in a pattern of absolute thinking and absolute living. Rest assured, I will bring this up regularly in future writings. On a practical note might I suggest you get a notebook, physical or electronic, it doesn’t matter the medium, and begin a journal to catalog this part of your journey. Even if you are certain you have a set worldview and answers to these questions, you will find value in the writing down of them. To make sure you don’t miss the point, that was an action step!

I’ve decided that the most logical place to begin is to first briefly define what I mean by a frame and then define each of the frames. When it comes to answering these deep questions, each of you will have to decide upon what set of premises you will base your conclusions. It is really a consistent set of premises that will allow you to quickly identify conflicts and incoherence in your worldview and deal with those one at a time.  What I call frames are simply a collection of like premises, which will makes sense more as we go over them. Please know that entire books have been written on each and I am in no way claiming to fully explain them. If you do not already have a frame settled in your mind, I would encourage you to do some significant research and thinking before moving on. There will be no shortage of content for you to consider if you do the research.

The Naturalistic Frame

In this frame everything in the world around you can be explained naturally and scientifically and the only empirical truth is that which can be known ultimately, which is that which can be tested, observed, and proved by way of the scientific method. There is no room for the spiritual or supernatural, nothing transcendent, when using the naturalistic frame to form a worldview. When answering questions about origin, purpose, morality, and destiny, the naturalist must look only to the natural realm for answers.

The Pantheistic Frame

In this frame god is everything and everything is god. Pantheism, unlike naturalism, provides for transcendence but not a transcendent god. Which is another way to say that in the pantheistic frame there is no separate being called god.

The Polytheistic Frame

In this frame multiple gods and/or goddesses form a system of deities. Not all gods and/or goddesses are equal nor to they necessarily work together in harmony.

The Monotheistic Frame

In this frame there is only one transcendent god. This god operates autonomously and is often described as the creator who has no creator.

Again, this way of thinking might be new to you and the definitions offered here are short; that is intentional. My hope is that they peak your interest and inspire you to do your own research as part of your journey to form your own worldview. As we explore the next section, you will see why having some sort of frame is helpful. Having briefly identified a way to group your premises together into a frame, we can now briefly discuss the four big questions. So I wonder how many of you are wondering why I am spending so much time on these things. These questions may seem so basic; however, it is in the simple things that we often overlook the details. I can’t say it enough; one of the first hurdles to clear in the metamorphosis to manhood is the decision to accept absolute thinking as a means to absolute living. I’m not going to spoon-feed you the absolutes, you are on your own for that, but you simply must have them.

First things first, everyone has to answer the question, “Where did I come from” and I’m not talking about the facts of life. I’m talking about the origin of humans on the whole, each of knows that our parents made us, but who made our parents? How you answer this question will have ramifications in the answers to every other question.

Having answered that question, the question of purpose naturally comes to mind. So why am I here? Not just why am I here but why are we here? For example, If I have answered the question of origin using the naturalistic frame, I will have settled on biological evolution. Having settled on biological evolution, there are a certain number of ways to answer the questions related to purposeful human existence. As you explore this area, you will quickly sense any areas where your answers become incoherent. For example, and I’m not picking on any particular view here, a naturalistic worldview with a purpose having anything to do with making the world a better place. Making the world better is totally foreign to a naturalistic frame. The way you make the world better is by using every advantage you have to survive and thrive, that furthers the advancement of the species through natural selection.

Rules flow from origin and purpose; there is no way around it. Your answers to these two of the big four start to box you in at this point as you consider the questions of morality. What is right, what is wrong, and why? The naturalistic frame is the only frame free from a moral law; in fact it is incoherent to introduce moral law in naturalism because it naturally interferes with the survival of the fittest and advancement of the species.   Every other worldview has a series of rules, of moral laws, and you must as well. Not only must you know what these are, but also you must know from whence they came. Moral laws must have a “law giver” and a judge who will measure. For the polytheist, this can be a bit of dicey since various gods or goddesses might have varying moral laws and scales. For the pantheist, there is karma. For the Jew, Mitzvot and Halakha. For the Muslim, the Quran and Sharia. For the Christian, there are the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. No matter the frame, there is no way around this reality. Even for the naturalist, while there is no moral law, nature itself dictates certain behaviors by way of compulsions, wills, and desires. How you reconcile your own views on a moral law will shape the way you live your life.

Having now reconciled and settled your beliefs one through three, you will land squarely on the question of destiny. Where do I go when I’m all done here? Make no mistake, how you answer this question will change every single thing about your life. Allowing incoherent views here, views that conflict with your answers in any prior question, will serve as a pebble in your shoe. Not just any pebble, but a jagged little dirty pebble in the shoe of a runner in a race. This pebble will be but a minor annoyance at first, then a painful reminder, then the source of injury, and eventually a festering infection. I’m not overstating for dramatic effect. I am stating a reality that the way you answer this question simply must be in absolute agreement with how you answer the ones that came before.

The great men that have come before us, the men who have set examples of living, the men upon who’s shoulders we now stand; these men had answered these questions. Dietrich Bonhoeffer comes to mind, a Lutheran minister who saw the Nazi regime come to power in Germany. Bonhoeffer had spent time at the Bethel Infirmary, a place where many with mental and physical handicaps were sent to live. As he learned of the infamous Nazi euthanasia laws to rid the German race of what Hitler called “useless lives”, he couldn’t help but think of the sweet souls at Bethel. For many reasons Bonhoeffer came to face the reality that, as he said, “it was not a case just of a deluded, vainglorious Germany. Rather, a sick man was in charge of a sick nation in a sick world”. And upon that realization, he made his decision to join the resistance. Never for a moment did he ever come to terms with Nazi power. His believing was absolute and his absolute living followed thereafter. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a real man and he was executed in a Nazi death camp for his participation in a plot to assassinate Hitler. You don’t have to agree with his actions, but you can’t help but be inspired by his resolve. Real men must have a core set of beliefs that they have honed and tested and that they will die for if they have to. You can be sure that beliefs like that will compel you to action.

I spend a good bit of time driving, from client to client, activity to activity … at least a few hours per week for sure. During this time, my mind often wonders off to higher order things, like this blog, much of it is written in my head before I ever sit down in front of my computer. I’ll admit that I am a terrible driver, that goes without saying, but there are times where I get to where I’m going and really don’t even remember much the act of driving? Can you relate? So why is that? How is it possible, given the complexity of driving? Other than the fact that after twenty some years of driving, it’s just automatic. One factor is in the existence of certain driving laws and rules that have become engrained for me. As I drive, there are lines on the road to tell me where I am supposed to be. I say, “supposed” because, for those of you who have had the misfortune of being a passenger with me, you know I take those lines as more of a general guideline. Nonetheless, the lanes are set for us. We have speed limits as well as other processes and procedures. It is safe to say that the rules of driving have been set for us and there is great comfort in that. In fact, more than comfort, there is freedom. Why can my mind journey to the esoteric as I drive? Because the basic questions of driving have been answered for me.

The same is true for our male ancestors of old. Even just one hundred years ago, most young males inherited a pretty rigid and set worldview from their fathers. More so even farther back, into the early eighteenth century, before the enlightenment, but even after that, as recent as just one hundred years ago, most young males didn’t have to struggle with the questions of worldview alone. And even those who did, the frame was given to them, and while they probably tested in the hubris of male youth, generally it was accepted as truth. The problem is that in today’s world, we have undone that. We have sacrificed the passing down of coherent worldviews upon “the alter” of open mindedness and put our young males out to drive on highways with no lanes, in a world where you have to make up the driving rules as you go. Imagine, literally, driving in a place where there are no rules, no lanes, no limits, and you must make it up as you go. That is what it is like to drive in certain parts of the world and, having driven in some of those places, I can assure you your mind doesn’t have any cycles for pondering while driving under those conditions.

It is with this post that I can close the chapter on the second main point of the revival. You may recall that the first endeavor was to convince you all that real men are the world’s most endangered species. Now the second has been to convince you that the first action step starts with you and what you believe. Being a man is about absolute thinking and absolute living. Over the next few weeks I will weave into these posts some examples of how this journey has played out in my life and how what I believe has come to shape all that I am and all that I do.

Stay tuned this week for a hard hitting, but still lighter post, on Wednesday this week. I am going to attack some “stereotypical man bashing dribble” that is circulating the internet right now and I want to make sure that you see it for what it is and that we are unified in our response to this internet fodder. One of my mentors ends each of our conversations by saying, “stay in battle” and it is with that, I close this week’s post.

New Page Added – Start Here and Check Often

I have added a new page to the site.  This is a simple page that has two purposes. First, to provide a landing page and starting point for new members. There is a general order in which you should read the first few blog posts, so that others are in context.

The second objective is to act as an index to find all prior posts quickly without having to use search or scroll through the feed.

Visit the page here, it’s a great page to bookmark and forward to others who you think would enjoy the posts on this blog.