Fredrick Douglass once wrote that, "It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men." And he was most certainly correct. But what is to be done when decades of wrong-headed social policy have already destroyed multiple generations of boys? Well, then we have to do the hard work, and for that, we have to be willing to get dirty.
For the first several thousand years of human civilization, the work of transforming a boy into a man was accomplished almost instinctually via rights of passage: The boy was taught, and molded through trial and tribulation, and given challenges to surmount, and only then was he granted the privilege of being a man among men- of marrying, of bearing children, of fighting alongside his brothers, and of taking up the mantle of leadership. The long journey from boyhood to manhood- and through manhood to death- was in a sense systemized according to the dictates of masculine psychology. And so if we are to recover what has been lost, the most logical course of action would be to retrace the steps of our fathers and grandfathers. We must resurrect consciously what our ancestors lived unconsciously: a heroic mode of life.
But how is this accomplished?
"We laugh at honor, and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.
We castrate, and bid the geldings be fruitful."
~ C.S. Lewis
Essentially, boys require four things in order to develop into men:
We will discuss each in turn:
Why a Boy Requires a Father
We learn what it is to be a man not so much through education but through emulation. And it is for this reason that single-motherhood has such a disastrous effect on young male psychology: No matter how good a single mother may be, she cannot provide for a boy an image of what a man ought to be. In other words, he can be educated by her, but he cannot emulate her in the hope of becoming a man- and it is emulation that matters most. For this reason among others, a father is needed, or in his absence, a surrogate father figure- a coach, a pastor, a grandfather, etc.
Why a Boy Requires a Tribal Community
Healthy human psychology cannot be understood or expected but in a social context: We are social creatures; we require a social context in order to flourish. And this social context is essentially tribalistic in character- that is, it is characterized by ingroup/outgroup dynamics, it is limited in size and scope, and it entails a certain degree of cultural homogeneity. Stated simply, we are designed to develop extremely intimate relationships with a relatively small group of individuals with whom we share values, and to do so for an objective purpose. When we are denied our tribal community, however, we become psychologically unsound, and it should be of no surprise to anyone that westernized, multicultural societies show far higher rates of a number of psychiatric disorders, especially in the case of men.
Why a Boy Requires a Path of Virtue
Tribalism, of course, has a dark side, as does masculinity in general. While identification with a tribe is necessary in order to create a sense of social connection- which is itself rooted in the mother principle-, a path of virtue is needed in order for the boy to grow stronger enough to control himself and his passions, which can quickly become destructive if not disciplined properly. An unbroken horse is useless to mankind, and the case is no different with men. Without a path of virtue and the self-discipline that comes with it, a man remains a boy psychologically speaking in spite of the fact that his power continues to increase- a very dangerous situation, indeed.
Why a Boy Requires a Meaning for Their Sacrifice
Male psychology is oriented towards two functions, generally speaking: leadership and protection. Both of these are inherently dangerous, however, and entail a natural willingness towards self-sacrifice- but only when that self-sacrifice has a greater meaning. When a greater meaning is removed- "God and country," for instance-, that natural willingness towards self-sacrifice can turn nihilistic: A man may ask himself, "Why bother?" Then, without a tribal community, without a path of virtue, without a meaning for their sacrifice, the man is left alone and unguided not only from others but from his own identity as a man and as a human being.
We often ask ourselves in America, where mass shootings have become frighteningly common, what can be done about it. And I would submit that teaching boys what manhood really is- and thus preventing them from finding themselves alienated from their own masculinity-, would be an excellent place to start.
~ Joshua van Asakinda
Writer. Genius. Madman.