The modern world is an endless tunnel, where each turn represents a potential pitfall and each intersection a presents the possibility of an ambush. What’s even more concerning is that the main target for most of these attacks appears to be men; white men to be more specific. I’m sure there are people who are already about to jump out of their seats for one reason or another, just based on these first two sentences. Many could be saying to themselves that white men deserve to be taken down a few notches. Others may even take it a step further and denigrate white men with a litany of undeserved, but politically-correct catch phrases or terminology. And there are a few very extreme readers who think that all white men should be permanently erased from existence. Yes, as I stated, it’s a dangerous time, but not a time to surrender, nor a time to cave to the armies of Social Justice Warriors, and it’s definitely not a time to surrender your manhood; in fact there’s never been a better time than right now to let your inner renaissance man become your everyday persona.
So, before we go further, we must first understand what exactly a renaissance man really is; we’ll then look at how these types of men are immune from the machinations of those who would wish to destroy the entire concept of manliness. Also, to clarify, this piece relates to all men, not just white men. I only used white men as a lead because they are the most persecuted sub-genre of human beings in the world right now; at least that’s the picture the media paints. But, I digress. The term renaissance man, also called polymath, is not that old, being first recorded in the period between 1905 and 1910. By definition, it means “a present-day man who has acquired profound knowledge or proficiency in more than one field.” Another more culturally impactful understanding would be a highly versatile, well-rounded, intelligent, man who alludes to the great thinkers and intellectuals of the Renaissance Period. One name which many people use as a benchmark of that period is the great thinker, artist, and inventor, Leonardo Da Vinci.
Teachings From the Renaissance
The actual renaissance period took place between 1400 and 1600, and it was a time of great discovery. Men were not considered highly educated unless they spoke several languages fluently, understood philosophy, religion, science, art, and literature in addition to being healthy and show promise in athletics and competitive sports. Like the knights and noblemen of generations before them, these men aspired to be something more than just average. There were a few women who would be categorized in this same genre, but the world unfortunately was quite different at that time and women were not afforded the same level of consideration as men. Some may scoff at the notion of what I’ve just described, however stepping back and reviewing the way our modern-day university system works, should be enough proof of its validity. The answer lies in the question many young scholars ask when starting college; why is it necessary to take so many liberal arts classes when I’m not majoring in Liberal Arts? This concept of a rounded education, with knowledge in multiple subjects, is a direct descendant of the system of old for the development of an open and worthy mind.
Yet today, men are under attack. Men are no longer expected by many groups to strive to reach their fullest potential. They are routinely criticized, threatened, falsely accused, and even physically attacked for the crime of being a man. Men are stereotyped as barbaric, ill-mannered, filthy-mouthed, beasts with little regard for anything other than their own needs. They are seen as overly aggressive, conquering rapists that see women as nothing more than a piece of meat or household slave. Of course, there are much worse definitions circulated daily, but not worth listing here for civility sake. I’m not going to make excuses for male behavior throughout time, and I fully agree that many men do possess terrible traits and treat women poorly. I am however going to make a case for the rest of us, as we are tired of being stereotyped. We’re tired of having manliness being treated as if it’s some type of illness or disease that needs “cured.” We’ve grown weary of being told we can’t play competitive sports, can’t express being ‘macho,’ or to basically be quiet and sit down. We’re tired of generations of public school teachers telling our boys that they need to stop striving to be men while taking away physical education, archery, shooting sports, and basic skills classes, just to appease Social Justice Warriors.
Years ago, young boys were taught to be men, precisely to be gentlemen, by the educational system. Competitive sports were a tool to teach them how to win and lose with grace and pride. Boys were taught to respect and use tools, firearms, and their language skills, rather than to be told how “dangerous” or “uncivilized” they were. They were encouraged to seek unlimited growth in all aspects of their lives including academia, physical activity, social skills, and have a broad understanding and passion for literature, the arts, music, science, and the pursuit of all things noble and worthy. And because of this great training, men went on to become explorers, writers, leaders, soldiers, and worthy husbands and fathers. They were filled with the tools that would propel the next generation to even greater heights and greater understanding of the world we live in. But, sadly, our educational institutions have become cesspools filled with negativity.
The Demise of The University System
The modern university only resembles the universities of the past in physical form. The curriculum’s are no longer in balance and no longer a recipe for success, as we can see by the vast numbers of college graduates that aren’t able to perform in the workplace. The academic elites have steered hard left and have placed politics, non-traditional fields of study, and social activities ahead of real learning and they have given over control of the classroom to unqualified teachers. When math classes become discussions on Sharia Law, or History lectures omit certain parts of history because the professor has an unfavorable opinion on those periods, then we have a problem. When Social Justice Warriors protest speakers coming to campus, to the point that they cancel, then we have a problem. When voices are silenced, any voice for any reason, then we have a problem. When unproven theories are promoted and are thrust upon everyone, even those who would try to scientifically disprove them, then the problem has become an epidemic. When violence and book burning are cheered by faculty members, we have crossed over into a realm of chaos. What comes next is anyone’s guess, however unless something changes dramatically it will likely get worse.
So what are we to do? I’ve already seen many men just throw their hands up figuratively and accept that they are on the express train for irrelevancy. I personally refuse to accept anyone telling me that I need to be lesser of a man and that I need to teach my son to be subservient to women. I’d rather stick to what worked for centuries and teach my son to be a gentleman, to stand up for himself in a polite and professional way, to become proficient at all things related to the outdoors, and to be his own man. Just the way my father taught me and his father taught him. I also encourage him and all other young men to learn how to cook, sew, clean the bathroom, cut the lawn, and any other thing that is a necessity to survival. I don’t believe in classifying things to be men’s jobs or women’s jobs. I want my son to strive to reach his full potential as not only a man, but as a human being.
In the modern educational system, these things are not possible. They should be, but as mentioned previously, the system has been hijacked by those who see modern boys and young men as a disease that needs eradicated. So, understanding the playing field, it becomes necessary to spend more time teaching ourselves and our boys the truth. Notice that the previous statement noted the fact that we need to educate ourselves first in many cases, before we teach our sons. The system has been around for long enough that many adult men weren’t allowed access to the knowledge necessary to “pass it down” to the next generation. This attempt to erase history or the teachings of honorable men from long ago is being done by design. The internet, once hailed as the greatest educational tool ever created, is also sadly becoming polluted with fake news, trash not even fit for entertainment, and enough subliminal messaging to drown an army. It too has become a weaponized tool of the enemies of men.
Men – Stop Listening to the Noise!
Men, stop listening to the noise. Stop letting someone else tell you how you should live your life and how you should feel. You already have an internal compass telling you the things you need to hear, regardless of how much society has tried to suppress it. Stop listening and start thinking for yourself once again. Stop letting the school district tell your kids how to think and what to believe. And if you happen to be a man who doesn’t live with his sons currently, then you better make sure you are taking time to teach them right from wrong and good from bad. If you feel that you aren’t up to the job, then you better reach down deep and align your priorities; you helped bring that boy into the world, so you better take responsibility for making him into a man you’d be proud to call your son. But, if you don’t care about your own boy(s) or you think its fine to let his baby-momma raise him alone, then don’t cry about it later in life when he doesn’t meet your expectations. Fatherhood is not a part-time occupation and raising sons cannot be done effectively with absent fathers. I’m not about to tell another man what to think, but I am about to lend some suggestions.
You may not feel comfortable calling yourself a renaissance man, or even a polymath. But you probably are fine with being called either, a good father, a good husband, or both. They are so similar that it’s tough to separate them. Ask yourself if you’ve reached your full potential in all aspects of your life. Rank yourself as a father (if you have children), as a husband (if you have a spouse), as a teacher, as a companion, as a guide, and so on. If you see one or more areas that you are weak or totally deficient, then you need to work on yourself and do it quickly. Secondly, review your health and if you find yourself out of shape and overweight, then again, time to get to work. If you don’t pay attention to the news because politics or current events are messy and distracting, then you are purposefully taking yourself out of the game and de-facto surrendering to the masses that wish to destroy the concept of manliness.
What You Think Really Matters, Really Matters
The key tenants that all men should measure them against are simple in verse, but often challenging in execution. They are in no particular order, the pursuit of knowledge and understanding, an appreciation for the arts, music, literature, and debate, and strong physical health to include good eating habits and avoidance of damaging substances. Also men should understand social skills, etiquette, manners, and most importantly how to use all forms of communication with respect and clarity. Other skills men and boys need to master are listening, patience, love & romance, humility, and patience (I only mention this one twice because of its unmeasurable importance, especially when it comes to raising sons). Although less important in today’s world, it still matters that a man can carry on a face to face conversation, go on a date without creating chaos, and be able to cook a meal from scratch. There are many more that could be listed here, but these are what I consider core tenants for manhood today.
Knowledge is at the center of everything. Without it, men are no more valuable than a hunting dog or robot laborer. Yet the pursuit of knowledge is itself a pothole laden crumbling highway where every off ramp can lead to a potential disaster and the traffic surrounding you might actually be a bot trying to run you into a ditch. As noted, the internet was once a great global database waiting for scholarly minds to drink from its never ending well. Now it’s a dirty pond with just a few remaining islands of Atlantis left above its surface and all filters clogged and full of dirt. But, even though it sounds bad, all it takes is better navigation skills to find what you seek; this unfortunately takes time due to the attempts by many of the electronic overlords, to hide the truth. Read on-line articles with caution, but also unplug from time to time and read a real book or even a periodical. Use multiple sources to confirm or deny what you read and form your own opinions – you are not a sheep, so don’t act like one. Don’t let anyone stop you from learning things. There is no rule that says a bricklayer can’t have a PhD in Mechanical Engineering or a Prince being adept at making ceramics. Knowledge matters.
With a sound understanding that learning is important, we can segue into social skills. Since most of us weren’t brought up in high society, we need to learn social skills and manners from our parents or another source. Manners will never steer you wrong. Listening and patience will never steer you wrong. Demonstrating that you are respectful of everyone around you makes more of an impact than you can believe. Even more impactful is a boy or a young teen male showing it. Teach your sons listening skills, verbal cues, conversational topics, and being polite in all situations. Also, boys need to learn dating skills – this is an absolute must for survival in the modern world where character assassination is a daily occurrence. Teach them how to properly court a potential romantic partner. Teach them boundaries and to never ever let their desires take the lead; too many young boys with the hormonal fuel of puberty have made mistakes that the modern world won’t ever allow them to forget. Also along the same lines, teach them one of the golden rules of the past, “if you don’t have something nice to say, then say nothing.”
Don’t Let Your Mouth Be Your Demise
Additionally, teach them (and yourself) to not repeat off-color jokes, cartoons, or memes. Don’t say anything racially insensitive, sexist, or otherwise hurtful about another group of people. Sometimes we hold opinions that other disagree with. It’s usually best to keep them to yourself and avoid the stigma of being branded as something you aren’t. When it comes to social media, less is often better than more. Social media sites are even worse than the general internet when it comes to polarized content and moreover the entire premise is a popularity contest rather than facts. This is an area that you men can lead by example more than others; you cannot teach your boys to avoid something that you are addicted to, if you follow me. Teach them at a very young age to guard their reputation like it was Fort Knox; once it’s been breached, it’s difficult to repair. Rise above the pettiness of the internet and social media and don’t let it become habit forming.
Sitting behind a computer screen makes boys lazy. Instead encourage them to get outside and do something, anything that requires movement and leads to skill development. As a father or father-figure, it’s important that you get involved with them and help them develop healthy play habits. Teach them that competition is part of life and the real world doesn’t give participation ribbons. It’s nice to win, but being gracious in victory is more important that being a good loser. Bragging, flaunting, or otherwise taunting an opponent does nothing but create a divide. Crying or calling your opponent a cheater when you lose only makes you appear small and weak; instead of lashing out, teach them to look inside to improve in the future. Losing with dignity makes us better men. Healthy boys who engage in physical activity are less likely to be ill, they sleep better, and are better decision-makers. Lazy boys are restless, have wandering minds, and are susceptible to negative influences easier. Choose which world you want to see your boys grow up into.
By now, you are either really thinking and analyzing your life and how you do almost everything, or you’ve had so many disagreements with the narrative that you’re ready to give me a piece of your mind in the comments. I’ve been accused of telling things the cold hard way rather than the sugary way and I’m fine with that designation. The way I see it, we men can either let the world swallow us up and spit us back out as something we aren’t or we can reach back into our past and reclaim the ways of the old. We can teach ourselves and our sons the just and noble way of living a manly life, with grace, dignity, and an overall feeling of optimism or not. But remember this, fellow men: if you don’t take the bull by the proverbial horns, then no one will. Society will happily continue to push them into irrelevancy unless you teach them that they are worthy, they can contribute at a high level, and they are worthy of being called the two most important words known today; husband and father.
The notion of a modern day renaissance man isn’t that much of a stretch once we understand what it actually means and how it can be applied in the modern era. It’s unlikely that learning and teaching will make all men “Jacks of All Trades.” It’s also unlikely that the efforts of a few will change the course of the world, but it could change the course of just a few young boys, and that in itself makes it worth the effort.