I’ve often thought I must have been born at least a century or more too late. When I turn on the television, I tend to look for old westerns, American and European colonial, Medieval era, Roman, Anglo Saxon and other such movies and documentaries, especially early Viking for some reason. It just seems I identify with men of those periods more than I do with all the politically sensitive and bold efforts of promoting lifestyles so far from the men of those times that seems so prevalent today. What I believe I identify with the most about these men of older times, as well and as recent as our own grandfathers, is what was most important to them in the way they lived their lives and so important to preserve and pass down. Below is certainly not an all encompassing list but a primer of who those men were in my opinion and what was important to them, and true men today.
Our forefathers for the most part were men of great courage and knowing how to protect their families, belongings, and way of life was as natural to them as breathing. They possessed knowledge and skills instilled in them from their fathers, who learned them from their fathers, who… ( well you get it! ). On the contrary, the average man today knows little to nothing about such skills and knowledge and solely relies on their local, state, and federal government to provide this protection for those they love the most. I understand in some ways we “seem” to be safer today than the days of old when we hear stories of Indian raids, bands of robbers, civil war, etc.. However, if you have a television or a radio and ever turn it on and hear any news at all, it only takes a minute to see that is far from being true. The only difference between then and now are the dangers to watch and prepare for! Today we have as many or more threats to our families than ever before and those threats have weapons and technology far beyond what our forefathers had to learn about and prepare to protect their family and loved ones from. We need real men today that still see the need, are willing to make the commitment, and seek out every resource and opportunity to learn all they can to be ready and prepared should the need arise to stand up and protect those they love and their property with all they have learned, practiced, and have at their disposal from such efforts.
Our forefathers also took pride in being the providers for their family and often worked long hard days to make sure they were adequately provided for. Asking for help beyond their own means was rare and only when they had done their all. For the most part, asking was not necessary among a band of brothers that knew you well and were with you on a regular basis. Did they reach out for help? Of course they did. However, there was one big difference that I don’t see much of today. Men of yesterday had a code among them where help went both ways. If your neighbors and brothers came to your aid and helped you in a time of need, loaned you money or their tools, etc. you were truly grateful and most importantly, remembered it. Then, when you learned that neighbor or brother had a need, with little to no thought of how it would inconvenience you, you were there and gave them your all. With that code of honor in place, there was little need for local, state, and federal assistance funded by the hard earned taxes regularly deducted from their wages and doled out to people they don’t even know. On the contrary, so many today seek out and find ways to qualify for any government assistance possible and accept assistance from others with little to no thought of returning that help when they learn of another’ s need. We need men again who have the pride and resolve to provide for their families, willing to perform any work needed, favorable or not that they are physically and mentally capable of. We need men willing to get up, get dressed and report to work when they don’t feel good, didn’t sleep well, and the plethora of other excuses men use today to stay home, denying their employer the resources they were counting on and the money much needed to provide for their family. Most importantly and ever so missing today we need men who are always looking for an opportunity to reach out and help another brother and his family, whether they know them well or sometimes not at all. That is one of the greatest values of a real man and will bring blessings that so many men are lacking in their lives today!
Standing Firm in Your Beliefs and Values!
Our forefathers stood firm in their beliefs and values while respecting that others around them may be different. As long as one group did not try to force their beliefs and values on another, they lived in peace for the most part and even lived among each other as valued friends and co-workers. I don’t recall stories of them however forfeiting the core values this great country was founded on and many men including their fathers died to protect, to accommodate another group with very different backgrounds, beliefs, and even values who migrate here and then do their best to push those unfamiliar and different belief systems on us. The greatest and most sought after reason people have migrated to this country for generation after generation is our openness and freedom to live among each other respecting our differences with a focus rather of building on our common traits and goals. My forefathers left an English monarchy in the 1500s migrating to this country to escape a terrible tyranny. My direct grandfathers were among the top of the British ruling class prior to that decision being Barons, six generations of knights with one serving in King Henry VII’ s last three parliaments making court judgments in the king’s behalf when he was away from the throne. Another grandfather was the chief architect that designed the Buckingham house, another is buried above ground with my grandmother at the entry of the the church of the Austin Friars in London. However, for reasons I’m not knowledgeable of, they left all of that and came to the American continent in the 1500s. They have since fought and died to defend the freedoms and new life that so much was sacrificed for to create this great country we call home here in the U.S.. So… while yes, we welcome others and understand that they are not always like us, we have poured a lot of blood to make this country what it is and we WILL NOT allow others to come here and defile it by trying to push another monarchy or ruling class on us, especially if it is in direct opposition to the Judaeo-Christian values we hold so dear, especially when their culture supports perversions and disrespect to our women and children. We will not force our Judaeo-Christian beliefs on anyone that decides to legally make this their home but we ask they respect our laws, our belief systems and not try and force us to forfeit our long standing traditions and values to accommodate theirs above and superior to our own. To this, we so need men again like our forefathers willing to stand firm and defend!
Love and Respect the Ladies!
I do believe the one area of being a real man that appears to be most lacking in today’s generation is the way a man treats the lady he’s closest to, usually his wife or girlfriend. One thing that immediately aggravates me is hearing another man refer to his wife or girlfriend as his “old lady”, “baby mama”, or any other such disrespectful term. Yet, less than respectful references to someone in your life that should be nothing short of your full respect is all too common today.
I’m very fortunate to have been raised by a father and mother who tag teamed their efforts making sure I understood the importance of being a gentleman, not only to those I was closest to but to any and every female I came into contact with. Mom and dad taught me that age was not a factor, I wasn’t to treat the older generation of women in a special way, being more likely to recognize and appreciate, and treat the younger generation any different, who all too often don’t have a clue the respect you’re paying them and sometimes even get offended by it. Treat them the same and enjoy the reward of the “thank you” from those that recognize your effort and just know you did the right thing when there’s no recognition or even negative feedback.
“Ma’am” – To this day I instinctively say “yes ma’am“, “no ma’am“, and just “ma’am” as a short way of saying hi. If I’m wearing a hat, I tend to make an effort to briefly remove it or at least tip it, usually by my hand on the front brim or just a quick nod. The term “ma’am” only appears to be popular in the south and north western states and more associated with the cowboy culture than any other in my observance. I meet and work with a number of women that have either moved from the north and north eastern states where this term doesn’t appear to be popular and/or have been raised by father’s that didn’t use it and have gotten some strange looks from time to time. Women in the work place today where they are very much equal to men and hold as many if not more management positions also seem to sometimes find this term a bit derogatory now. For the life of me I don’t understand that as it’s a high form of respect to them if they only knew! More than any other occasion where the lady seemed less than receptive is when I hear in return“please don’t call me ma’am, it makes me feel old“. Again, I’m flabbergasted, why does such a respectful word have to be a thing of the past, not fitting for this day and age among women? My answer is usually jokingly replying “ma’am ( there I go again! ), I’d much rather offend you unknowingly by saying that than to feel my dad’s boot in my butt for forgetting to!” That usually gets a chuckle and I continue to do so.
Open the door – Men, if you’re walking up to the door of a restaurant or store front and there is a woman, no matter how young or old, color, class, etc. approaching the door at the same time, or even slightly behind you… for God’s sake man make every effort to get ahead if needed and open that door! Hold the door open for as long as needed if others are behind her. Most will thank you, some will ignore you. Either way, also make an effort to return a “you’re welcome” when thanked and personally, I like to say the same to those that ignore you or fail to thank you but sometimes that’ll get you a dirty look with them feeling corrected.
The car door – I really wish I saw more men today making an extra effort when they’re approaching their vehicle with their wife or girlfriend to walk to the passenger side and open the door for them, make sure they’re in completely and then gently shut the door behind them. Then walk around and get in the vehicle yourself. I can’t think of a reason this extra effort isn’t worth the time and energy, yet shows her that her safety and comfort is your highest priority when approaching your vehicle. I rarely ever see this today. Why? I too confess that I from time to time get too busy, sidetracked, etc. and sometimes forget myself but don’t feel right when I recognize I’ve done so. Guys, this is so important and should not be allowed to fade into the past as outdated and no longer necessary. Show the lady you love that her safety and comfort is important to you. Show the others around you that this lady is special!
There are so may other areas to cover to truly understand the importance of this topic if you’re interested at all in being a real man. I myself, although seem to give more effort to treating all other ladies I happen to meet the true respect, honor, protection and care than most men I see today, it’s a day to day effort that you really have to stay on top of! Some days we forget and miss opportunities and that’s OK, just do your best to keep this most important aspect of true manhood front and center when the two of you are together.
A Man’s Word is His Contract!
As I was growing up, I remember being taught to always reach out my hand when approaching another man for conversation. I was taught to not just give a hand shake, but a hearty and firm handshake, the sign of a real and honest man. My dad had big strong hands. When I reached adulthood and came to visit dad, I would always get a hand shake, sometimes a hug as well, but always a hand shake. Not only did his hands engulf mine but his strength was recognized right away. He was firm, but not bone crushing, intimidating firm. Dad taught me to gauge my firmness by the other man’s grip. To this day I always greet a man with a firm handshake as dad taught me. It’s a bit funny to me how many men today that I’ve shaken hands with that claim it to be too firm when I know very well it wasn’t. Today so many men have soft hand shakes that fail to provide the same impression and signal of our forefathers.
Why am I talking about hand shakes? Because there was a time not so long ago that many contracts were just that! Two men discuss a deal or one ask another for something and when they agree, they shake on it. That hand shake to them was as binding as any piece of paper with words and signatures. And once a deal or agreement was reached and you shook on it, you by God kept your end of that deal or agreement! It might turn out to be a lot harder than you expected, cost more, etc. but you sucked it up and completed the task per the agreement.
It seems we live in a society today where paper contracts are necessary to do just about anything in the business world. Fancy lawyers word those contracts so cryptic that most everyone signs their name to wording they clearly don’t fully understand. Then there are those “loop holes” that the audacious and greedy attempt to take advantage of when something isn’t going their way and they want out of the agreement. It’s sad that the world, especially the business world, has come down to everything being on a contract, non-disclosure agreement, etc. just to have a decent conversation on a matter.
I’ve succumb to preferring some business conversations in writing myself, and I don’t like it being that way! It’s dangerous sometimes though in this day and work culture to have a work conversation where people agree to take on assignments, sometimes with deadlines and then get to a point where something isn’t done, or done on time and there’s the “you didn’t say that”, “I don’t remember you saying that”, etc. Email has become the mainstay of business communications today and can be used to document exactly what’s said and isn’t said. I live in this world every day, but I miss the days of old when two men simply visit and leave shaking hands!
I’ll stop here because this could go on and on and many pages later I’ll still be thinking of so many ways that we as men should be living in today’s world, honoring our forefathers who invested so much in us with hopes of us carrying their teachings into our lives, living their code of honor today as they did in theirs. What I hope to accomplish with Old School Manliness is to help light a spark in those whose spark may be dim and encourage us all to remember the old ways of living that made this country so great and to commit all we can to learning and living them once again!
I look forward to writing many articles, some expounding on the things you’ve read above as well as many others covering various aspects of a seemingly lost art of living like real men again. I hope to hear from you and always welcome you’re critique. I also welcome your own writings of your experiences and would enjoy including them here. -Blane Sheffield