Let’s continue the journey into that wonderful quote from Teddy Roosevelt and see if we can’t garnish any more masculine wisdom. I’m feeling pretty positive that there is a lot more gold in there. Here’s the quote in full again:
“We need the iron qualities that go with true manhood. We need the positive virtues of resolution, of courage, of indomitable will, of power to do without shrinking the rough work that must always be done.”
Last time out, I looked at the word ‘positive’ and what that means for men. In this post, I’m going to cover ‘virtues’. And what does the need for virtue mean for men? A quick dictionary search provides a number of definitions:
- Moral excellence; goodness; righteousness.
- conformity of one’s life and conduct to moral and ethical principles; uprightness; rectitude.
- chastity; virginity
- a particular moral excellence. Compare cardinal virtues, natural virtue, theological virtue.
- a good or admirable quality or property
- effective force; power or potency
I’m going to gloss over definition #3 because I know you’re all a bunch of slags at heart. But I would say that the definitions that are of interest to men are #2, #5 and #6.
Oh indeed – A man must have a code
Fans of ‘The Wire’ will be familiar with the characters of Omar Little and William ‘Bunk’ Moreland. They have several exchanges throughout the show and a recurring theme and phrase in these exchanges is that “a man must have a code.”
And I’m not talking about some Revelation 13:16 mark of the beast type of code. Hell fire and damnation…the Anti Christ is here!!!!
What Omar and The Bunk are talking about is a moral code – a set of values they live their lives by. This phrase is said several times in the show and sums up definition #2 perfectly. Omar does some nasty shit but he has a moral code, swears by this code and takes it to heart when anyone suggests he is not a virtuous man in this context.
This is probably one of the reasons he is such a popular character. We recognise and respect the fact that he is morally disciplined. He openly owns up to the crimes he commits against those he deems fair game because in his world, that is within the rules. Killing citizens is not.
And as for The Bunk…well shiiiiiiit. His moral principles make him strictly a suit and tie motherfucker
We define our principles
Omar’s principles don’t come from religion, family, government or media. And yours don’t have to either. YOU define how you want to live your life. YOU define what’s wrong and right and YOU life YOUR life virtuously.
Men with the Iron Qualities are men of action – and those actions come from your principles.
We all do it – we create playing arenas with rules. Maybe the rules change over time – maybe new rules get added and other rules get tossed. And if you do something that breaks one of your own rules – deep down in your gut, it doesn’t feel right.
This isn’t about the world judging you or what other people think because you should never worry about that anyway. Ultimately, it’s about YOU being able to look at yourself and be satisfied with what you find inside. Nothing more matters.
Now…I’m not condoning mass murder and flaying of puppies; scamming your friends and family of all their cash and doing kiss & tell stories when you bang a famous celebrity if that’s what you think is right. Which brings us to definition #5: a virtue is a ‘good or admirable quality.’
What is ‘good’ or ‘admirable’??
It can be a tricky question. These are principles that are normally formed by communities of people as being acceptable or what the group respects or approves of. So yes, these traits can be a consequence of your upbringing but before I start going into a sociology ramble, I still think there are universal virtues that transcend societies. Showing kindness and preserving life are two examples.
Essentially, what we are talking about here is a moral extension to the core fundamental principles of being a man. Definition #6 expands on this. Here, we are into the world of what Jack Donovan would call the ‘tactical virtues’ of strength, honour, courage and mastery.
Are you ready for the ZAS?
Virtues that are valuable for effective survival. Think King Leonidas and his 300 men in the old Greek legend. Spartan boys were raised to be soldiers and warriors and as such strength, honour, courage and mastery of essential fighting skills were drilled into them pretty much since birth.
And in the Frank Miller version of the legend, poor Ephialtes can’t be a true fighting Spartan as his physical deformity would compromise his fellow men in the Spartan phalanx. So when denied the opportunity to become part of the mighty 300, he decides to betray them for a taste of some freaky Persian bunga bunga parties and a nice uniform.
To illustrate this further, let’s consider the Zombie Apocalypse Scenario (ZAS). Mankind has been decimated. Survivors are scattered here and there -they and are few and far between. It’s bad times.
But we hear rumours now and again – whispers on the wind – of the legendary zombie hunter Bo Ideal… ‘Bane of the Undead’…. ‘Scourge of the Skineaters’ …. ‘Cure for the Infected’
- In zombie confrontations, he has a zombie decapitation success rate of 90% +
- He knows where to find the fattest squirrels and his squirrel and sawdust stew is a thing of legend
- He can light a camp fire inside 10 seconds come rain, sleet or sunshine
- His shelter is always waterproof and built high in the canopy because he knows Zombies are notoriously bad at climbing trees.
- He has fathered at least 7 children in the last 12 months (3 in one night some say) – thus ensuring the future of mankind.
Of course, the Zombie Apocalypse is still a few years away and there are other ways the virtue of powerful and effective force can be shown by the modern man.
And it’s not limited to physical acts; a man should also havem oral courage and strength of will – standing up for his beliefs and sticking to his moral code in the face of adversity and having the balls to make difficult decisions when they are needed.
What can we do to cultivate a virtuous life?
- Think about and develop a moral code. I mean take time to really think it through – what is important to you…what do you feel strongly about…and importantly…why
- Live life with these principles engrained in your mind. Use them as a compass to guide actions
- Identify skills and talents that will make you a man of effective force, power and potency and develop these too
- Be prepared to defend your principled views against trolls and those who disagree with you
- Take steps every day to develop and increase mastery of skills and virtues that have been chosen
So there we have it….virtues. Patience is one, and now we know there are many others that a man of Iron Qualities demonstrates and should always strive towards.
The purpose of this post was not to detail every single virtue a man should have but rather to highlight the fact that there are virtues that a man should have and time should be spent every day in developing moral, mental and physical virtues to make you the absolute best man you can be.
That’s enough for now…it’s squirrel hunting time