I just finished a conversation with my brother about raising his young son to be a man of valor. It begins when they’re young and impressionable. We continue to stoke those embers until they can carry the fire by themselves. It’s necessary that they learn to be their own men and not so sensitive as to give into the pressure of wrong-headed peers who choose to make others victims.
Children sometimes give up on playing games, and adoring stories about Gilgamesh, or Beowulf, or Roland once they’re around a pack of boys with a cruel wit, a mean punch, and a weak spine. Perhaps they reacquired that love when they go into the service or maybe not. We can hope. The classics, history, poetry; get them excited about becoming men who are not afraid to stand up for what they believe in regardless of the mentality of the pack when the pack are damned fools. The tactical world is full of cartoon characters.
I’m reminded by GB Shaws quote “And all the while there goes a horrible, senseless, mischievious laughter. When you’re young you exchange drinks with other men and you exchange vile stories with them; and as you’re too futile to be able to help or cheer them, you chaff and sneer and taunt them for not doing the things you daren’t do yourself. And all the time you laugh! Laugh! Laugh! Eternal derision, eternal envy, eternal folly, eternal fouling and staining and degrading, until, when you come at last to a country where men take a question seriously and give a serious answer to it, you deride them for having no sense of humour, and plume yourself on your own worthlessness as if it made you better than them.”
I think how independent men like them became expats: Joyce, Wilde, Beckett. They knew the rich history and stories of their own people. Home never leaves you, nor does your original loves. A man needs to know who he is by knowing where he came from, so he has a sense of where he is going. I hope whatever thing you once possessed, that gave you a thrill that made you feel heroic, that you’ll take it up again. Look up your old heroes and become men of valor again.
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