As a man, fighting words can be a matter of pride. You are supposed to defend yourself and your family from just about any insult.
When I was growing up, if someone said something about your mother, your sister, or some other family member, the fight was on. I can remember getting in trouble for not appropriately defending my sister.
Today fighting words have a different meaning. As a teacher, I’ve seen some pretty ugly brawls over some uttered offense. As a father, I’ve felt it when I see someone saying something around my kids. And politics? Don’t even get me started.
The most recent fighting words
My ex-wife is a preparing to move. Not far, but it will have some impact on the time I spend with my daughters. A huge justification, which as a teacher I understand, is the schools where she wishes to move. They’re the best in the state.
Of course as she was discussing it, she said in their after school program, the children can get homework help from a licensed teacher. I spend every afternoon – just about – with the girls and help with their homework. And I’m a licensed teacher! I don’t mind saying I was pretty offended by the comment and I felt the fight welling up in me.
It was tough.
But was it worth fighting? From the perspective of my daughters’ mother, were they fighting words?
Of course not. I had to be a man and step back, take a breath, and realize she wasn’t talking about my ability to help the children with their homework.
It wasn’t worth fighting over because once I removed my stubborn ego, there was no insult in the conversation.
Not to be overly political, but one of President Donal Trump’s quotes is, “Part of being a winner is knowing when enough is enough. Sometimes you have to give up the fight and walk away, and move on to something more productive.”
This is not a call for passivity. Sometimes you as a man have to step up and fight.
And we are all guilty of passivity – I’m sure I’ve been too passive in my personal and professional life at various times.
All that’s necessary for evil to win is for good men to do nothing.
I was taught in a particular Bible study class I used to take that the first sin might have been the man’s (Adam’s) passivity.
Genesis 3:6 states, “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.”
Adam, who had clearly been warned about the evil of eating the fruit, no only was passive when Eve was tempted by the evil one, he became a willing participant. His passivity led to some real issues.
The challenge here is when do you fight? When do you take a step back? We have no clue about this.
Men in today’s world no longer have a compass that points them toward right, masculinity, and what true strength looks like.
It’s not the Bible, because we don’t read it. Good fathers on TV are silly, bumbling, idiotic, or some combination. Phil Dunphy from Modern Family is hysterical but anything he does right is purely accidental. His step father, Jay Pritchet, who worked hard to become successful, who loves his family and provides for them, is an anachronism.
We’re surrounded by utter bull shit artists who fear masculinity telling us to be metrosexual. An otherwise interesting article in Time Magazine literally told us the future of men is women and that young men should be invited into women’s support programs. What. The. Fuck.
Yet, we don’t have a guide. Too many people view masculinity as how many fights you’ve won and how many women you’ve slept with. Our society is focused on feminism and empowering women and in doing so, we’ve forgotten that we as men matter. That we have a role in our society. That we can make a difference in the lives of those around us.
But we can start by being on the things that really matter. Not fighting and not holding grudges. Rather let’s focus our actions on protecting, empowering, and building.