I was watching a movie the other day called “20th Century Women”. In it, a couple of women try to teach a 15 y/o boy how to *become* a man at the request of his mother, since she doesn’t know how to teach him herself. Not just to *be* a man but how to *become* one. There’s an important difference between the two.
While being is the state we are at and the definition of who we are, becoming is the journey we take to become what we wish to *be*. A journey is in itself a combination of “unknowns”: unknown places, ideas, people, challenges; life itself is an unknown journey we have no map for and very rarely a teacher to help us along the way. The most important thing about a journey it’s the destination we wish to arrive at. While a lot of times we get to the place we imagined, more likely than not you’ll end up in a completely different place, being a completely different person, with many new experiences. However chasing a destination is what gives the journey its meaning and what motivates us to keep going.
To be a man means a lot of things to a lot of different people, I would say being a man is being strong, able to provide and stable, while will being humble, kind and reasonable. A lot of hard things, a lot of good things. The destination is set, the map is drawn and the unknowns are coming.
The journey to becoming a man.
A man is someone able to protect, to stand against foes and against the odds in order to keep whoever’s behind your back unscratched. Even if failing to be victorious, the failure comes from succeeding in protecting from such foes. He needs to be strong. He’s someone able to provide, to give what’s necessary to the people that depend on him. He needs to be stable, to be in balance in order to protect and provide.
But without kindness towards others, there is no love and protecting becomes a chore rather than a duty. Without humbleness, a man will provide and expect appraisal for it, instead of enjoying the act for the good of itself. A reasonable mind and character are needed because life is not black and white, what’s good today might be bad tomorrow.
So, how do we become the man we wish to be? What books do we read, what experiences do we look for? Where’s the school we have to attend to or the mentor that will help us get to our destination?
Most of our grandparents lived through at least one of the two World Wars. They were nothing but boys shooting down men and men shooting down boys. The war transforms men into children and makes men out of boys. Those who succeeded in becoming men and were strong enough to stand against the crushing horrors of war were the ones to bring about the social revolution that allowed us to live in the most prosperous time in human history.
They were too busy working and building the world as we know it to teach their children how to be men because what made men out of them were the sacrifices and the horrors of war and no one wants to teach those to their children. And so here we are children of peace, ignorant of horrors, pain and need, giving a blind eye to those suffering while taking care of our notifications devotedly.
It was a cultural idea that when a boy came of age he went to fight for his ruler. The boy wasn’t expected to come back home because he either came back a man or didn’t return at all.
How do we become men, then? Which is the journey we must embark, what destination to set up to? I haven’t seen the horrors of war, but I’ve been through the sacrifices of Venezuela. I truly believe that made me a stronger boy, but it wasn’t enough to make a man out of me. And just like my grandfather before me did everything he could so that I didn’t have to go through what he lived, I’ll try my best so my offspring won’t go through what me and my kinsmen went through.
Was my grandfather a man? He lacked many of the characteristics I used to describe one, and so, the horrors of war don’t make men out of every boy. We’re left in square one, with no answer yet in sight, but one thing I know:
Bad times create strong men. Strong men bring prosperous times. Prosperous times create weak men. Weak men bring bad times.
Let us hope we’re not the weak men that bring bad times. Let us hope we find our destination, so we bring prosperous times. Let us hope we pass on our discovery so there are always strong men that bring prosperity.
I wish I could provide more answers, in most of my publications and private writings I rarely come to definite conclusions and find stricly defined answers. Very rarely you will find a work of philosophy in which guidelines on how to live are outlayed, since an infinity of possibilities for every scenario and invidual exists.
However, by writing I find answers and discover new questions. Hopefully you find answers in my writings and new questions.#
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