I’ve actually wanted to write this for awhile. Why is it that guys do really stupid things? It’s good to establish first that guys like stupid things. For instance (and I hate to over-generalize) but when I mention the movie Dumb and Dumber, women just don’t yuck it up with me doing that ridiculous dance that Jim Carrey does in the beauty salon (see… you guys are cracking up right now). Something about the Three Stooges doesn’t translate well across gender lines. Or think about it… when’s the last time you saw a tv show based on a woman or a group of women doing utterly adolescent things like you see on Jackass? Guys like to watch stupid things being done.
But it gets more serious than Johnny Knoxville performing stunts that cause guys to laugh and women to roll their eyes. Guys not only like to watch stupid things but they sometimes do seriously stupid things. For instance, how does a married man like General David Petraeus, a man that heads one of the most powerful government agencies, have an affair with another woman? The first question that came to my mind was, “What was he thinking?” Here’s the head our own CIA not only putting his marriage in jeopardy but potentially our own country.
Women certainly aren’t exempt from doing stupid things but it seems like men constantly are in the news because of their foolish choices. Why is it that most of the stories we hear are about men who by their own doing, ruined the lives of their family, lost ministries and credibility or even put others lives at stake? Some have suggested that it’s the sense of power that led many of these men to think that they are invulnerable and never get caught. Some suggest that it’s arrogance mixed with a heavy dose of narcissism.
Frida Ghitis in a CNN article suggests that it’s because men are willfully ignorant that the world has changed. I think there’s something to her understanding because it gets at an intentional choosing to remain ignorant. It seems to me that along with the cup of power and arrogance, there is an accompanying sense of self-deception. If I tell myself a different narrative (in this case, a story that is true for me), then it’s just a matter of time before it starts to get acted out. The problem is that usually at the end of acting out is a brick wall because God has constructed a moral universe very differently.
There are many components to manhood. Here’s one that just occurred to me. What if manhood was connected to a certain kind of honesty that one had with themselves? It wasn’t so much physical strength as much as it was an inner strength of actually being able to identify how easily he can be dishonest with himself, God, and others? What if the moral virtue of courage was not only to press into something that causes fear but to press into the capacity to be dishonest with themselves? When Adam blew it in the Garden he didn’t know what to do with himself and so he hid from God later blaming both God and Eve for his own lack of responsibility. Sin threw everything into a state of confusion such that Adam (and by extension all of us) are ruled by self-deception. It’s really hard to be confronted with the truth about oneself.
It seems to me this level of honesty provides a strong foundation for manhood. One is aware of the constant temptation to build an identity based on personal narratives and the problems that come with being willfully ignorant. In the words of Clint Eastwood at the end of “Magnum Force”… “A man’s got to know his limitations”.
As always, any thoughts you have are always appreciated!