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We, the men of America
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Fred Hutchison, RenewAmerica analyst
March 21, 2013

Originally published April 11, 2006

We, the men of America, are still here in spite of forty years of gender warfare against us. We are still here because God designed us to be men, placed us in this land, and expects us to lead. We are here because America needs us. We are here because our communities need us. We are here because women and children need us. We know that we are needed, in spite of the foolish popular denial of that rather obvious fact.

At the moment, some women and some weak men may not like it when we behave as men. But we shall conduct ourselves as men because women, children, and weak men need us to do so. They need to know that we are here, we are not deserting our posts, we are not running away, and we are not abdicating our responsibilities.

Women and children need to know that we will remain men in spite of all the cunning efforts by some of them to manipulate us to be otherwise. When women and children discover that we cannot be tricked out of being men, only then can they rest and feel safe. Only then can they find themselves and enjoy themselves as women and as children.

The burden of leadership

As men, God has given us the burden of leadership. The burden of leadership has nothing to do with self-assertion and has everything to with self-denial. It has nothing to do with the struggle for power, glory, and wealth. Lesser men abandon the burden of leadership when they forget their honor and duty in the struggle for gain and for status.

Leadership requires the courage to take a stand. A leader does not take a stand for the sake of his stubborn will, but for the sake of principle.

We, the men of America, are charged by God to uphold eternal principles of right and wrong. We shall take our stand against evil, and shall not fear the calumny that will be heaped upon us for doing so. Once we take our stand, we shall not desert our post and expose the women and children to danger.

It is wonderful when women take a stand against evil, but it embarrasses us when no American man is available to bear that burden and women have to do it. It is for us, the men, to face evil and provide shelter from the glare of evil for our women and children.

Men who find their honor

Men do not find their honor when they take a stand to save face, although saving face might sometimes be necessary for the sake of others. Men do not find their honor through power, but they can lose honor by misusing power.

Men find their honor when they take a stand against evil or in defense of truth. Men find their honor when they do their duty as God has given them light to see that duty, and persevere every day in doing that duty. Men find their honor when they face danger with courage and fortitude and do not boast about it.

Men find their honor when they build things, whether it is a piece of furniture or a building, whether it is a long-term project, a company, or an institution, whether it is an edifice of truth or a body of professional ethics, whether it is the founding of an association or a family tradition. One can find honor in building a railroad or in laying a perfectly straight row of bricks.

Men find their honor as protectors. As solders, policemen, and firemen, they find honor by exposing themselves to peril as they protect the weak from danger, as they protect society from outlaws, and as they protect America from her enemies. Men find their honor when they protect women, children, and the elderly from physical danger and emotional trauma.

Chivalry and gallantry

How should a man treat a woman? With respect, gentleness, and gallantry. With respect, knowing that God created woman as a marvelous mystery, a mystery to be honored even when it is not understood. A boy foolishly demands explanations for the mystery of femininity. A man protects that mystery, celebrates it, and allows the mystery to have its secrets. A man treats women with gentleness because he understands that a woman does not have the tough hide of a man, but can be hurt by behavior and by words that male comrades might enjoy in their rough sport. A man is gallant, finding elegant ways to courteously defer to feminine softness while making women feel they have been honored and not condescended to.

The company of men

A man needs male friends and comrades in the learning process of becoming a man and in expressing his fully orbed manhood. Lone wolves miss vital lessons in masculinity and miss the convivial joys of the company of men. Wise women are not afraid of exclusive, civilized male associations, understanding that one of the best things that could happen to a woman is for the man she loves to develop further into mature manhood.

Men are called to leadership, but one cannot become a leader unless he first follows and respects worthy leaders who are above him. Therefore, the process of becoming a man requires respect for fathers, mentors, older brothers, pastors, sages, and wise masculine authority figures.

Working men

Entry into the world of work invariably requires a degree of submission to some kind of authority. Working for a boss requires obedience to authority. Many boys gradually become men as they persevere in jobs in which they must obey a boss.

Work is essential to manhood. Men who refuse to work often wind up in the gutter, in jail, or in an insane asylum. Some men who do not work yet avoid these disasters become leeches, con-men, manipulators, or seducers. Idle bohemians often become political subversives. However, these baneful consequences of not working do not apply to women, as a rule. Why must men work in order to become mature as men and avoid terrible consequences, while a woman can remain at home without suffering harm?

"And unto Adam he (God) said, '...Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life: Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee: and thou shalt eat in the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return to the ground; for out of it wast thou taken; for dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.'" (Genesis 3: 17–19)

In this passage, God declares a curse upon fallen men and not upon women. The curses on women are different. The curse on men pertains to work. Contrary to the claptrap about work being a source of "self-actualization," God has made work necessary for survival and something of an ordeal. Whatever kind of work one does, there are "thorns, thistles, and sweat" involved in doing it. Work is not fun or play as some would have us believe. It is a curse, but is also blessing in disguise.

When men submit to work and persevere amidst the thorns, thistles, and sweat, they develop manly virtues and escape destructive temptations. When men defy God's command to work because they despise His curse, that very curse, which might have been made salutary through work, becomes destructive. The loafer fails to develop as a man, and is gradually destroyed by worldly vice.

A woman is not commanded to work, vocationally, but she has permission to do so. She suffers no evil consequences if her husband is a good provider and she decides to stay home. However, if she chooses to work, she must suffer the same thorns and thistles in the fields of work as a man does. Unfortunately, the woman does not have the tough hide of a man. She suffers more than a man does as she sweats in the field and the thorns and thistles injure her, speaking figuratively.

Gals, forget about finding "self-actualization" in the work world. You may go there if you like, but you will be bruised by the experience. Yes, you will gradually develop tougher skin at work, but something soft, sweet, and lovely about you might be diminished. If your husband wishes to be your provider, it might be a good idea not to fight it. It might be a good for him as a man and good for you as a woman. It might be very good for your children to have you at home.

Rites of initiation

Pagan males go through scarifying rites of initiation in order for boys to become men and to be inducted into the inner sanctum of warriors and hunters. In contrast, the civilized gentleman might or might not be a warrior. He might or might not go through some sort of initiation in a fraternity or a men's club. The example and wisdom of a father, mentor, or older brother might be enough to stimulate the formation of manhood. Some find their way as men through work, sports, or hunting. Becoming a man for the benefit of the woman he loves has all the incentive that some men have need for growing up.

The pagan style of initiation was practiced by some heretical cults, but was never generally practiced by Christian men. There were indeed rites of initiation for holy orders, becoming a knight, or for entering a feudal covenant, but these rites were limited to an elite.

When a man prostrates himself before the cross of Christ and the power of God rends his heart, pagan initiation rites seem as games for boys in contrast. Only through entering into the powerful mystery of the cross and resurrection can the full possibilities of manhood be realized. The mystery of manhood is that a man carries the image of God in a special way. In fallen man, this glory is obscured, but in redeemed man, the glory can partly be recovered in this life.

George Washington, the archetypal man

George Washington, the father of our country, was a great model of manhood. As a Virginia planter, he was exemplary in the work ethic and diligently managed the operations and business affairs of his farm, while some planters left operations and management to hired overseers. Washington also was a real estate speculator and something of a visionary about Western settlement.

Washington was exemplary in the arts of hospitality. He and his wife Martha enjoyed being hosts, and the house was rarely without overnight guests. In addition to being a perpetual host and a magnificent head of the house, Washington was dutiful to social obligations, works of mercy, and tasks of leadership in the community.

In Virginia high society, Washington was gallant, merry, and popular with the women. He also loved the company of convivial male comrades, but avoided rowdy excesses. As an expert horseman and gentleman hunter, he was a dashing figure. In old-fashioned parlance, he was a "fine figure of a man."

In his youth, Washington was a surveyor and a soldier assigned to duty in the wilderness. He displayed exemplary courage, boldness, and initiative under fire. As a courier, his physical endurance during a long and extremely arduous winter journey exceeded that of his tough and seasoned guide.

Washington was a very tall, big-boned, strong, athletic man who could seize two fighting rowdies by the nape of the neck and shake them into submission. He was the very picture of rawboned, robust hardihood in his wilderness adventures, and he could perform impressive feats of muscular strength when he wanted to. If he had been a ruffian, he could "lick any man in the house," as boxer John L. Sullivan often said. However, Washington was a polished and cultured gentleman, and never played the braggart or the bully.

As a young man from the minor landed gentry, Washington descended from English country squires of middling social standing. He recognized that his manners and comportment were inadequate for refined Virginia society. He diligently submitted himself to the tutelage of Lord and Lady Fairfax, a family of high degree both in England and Virginia. These expert mentors polished him and turned him into the very model of an English gentleman. He became so agreeable to the leaders of the Virginia landed aristocracy that he was eligible to marry Martha Dandridge Custis, a blue blood and the richest young widow in Virginia.

As general of the Continental Army, Washington was leadership personified. The sheer loyalty of the troops to Washington carried the suffering soldiers through the darkest days of military disaster and severe privation. As a prodigy of stoic endurance, Washington's character became sharply focused into three hard points: duty, honor, and country. What a patriot and what a man!

Yet Washington was no mere plodder of heroic patience. As a leader, the power of his will was like a force of nature. Once he had made a crucial military decision, he would set his face like flint towards the goal and overwhelm opposition by the sheer force of his will and determination. Sometimes, a fixed gaze of majestic disapproval would silently melt surly opposition and disperse the antics of ruffians.

Washington was more than a magisterial presence and a tough Anglo-Saxon bulldog. He was capable of great finesse as a guerilla fighter, shocking audacity in tactical maneuvers, and battlefield stunts that exhibited personal courage of the highest order. This was a man for all seasons.

In spite of (or because of) being a great leader, Washington was not a man of personal ambition and was content with his station in life. After the war, he rejected the offer to become king and left for his farm. He had not solicited the office of general, nor did he solicit the office of president, but the leaders of Virginia and Massachusetts solicited him. In both cases, he reluctantly accepted the call of duty and the burden of leadership, when he would rather have stayed home. He reported for duty for his second term of office "...with as much enthusiasm as a condemned man on the way to the gallows." The burden of leadership can be crushing for a founding father.

As president, Washington gathered around himself a constellation of brilliant founding fathers, some of whom outshone him in intellectual gifts and star quality. He had a nation to found and wasted no time worrying about competing with others in matters of petty ego. He was the only founding father who was not competitive with his peers out of personal ambition or vanity. He was like a senior founding father trying to keep order amidst a quarrelsome, cantankerous group of founding brothers.

The most enduring legacy of Washington as president was his leadership by precedent and example. The country had no example of what a president should be, so Washington had to invent the presidency by his leadership and his daily behavior. Because of his heroic stature, later presidents were eager to follow in his footsteps, but no one ever had big enough feet the fill the shoes that made those giant footsteps.

Until America had a standard flag, Washington was the symbol of America. As a majestic, symbolic figure, he was the stars and the stripes and the eagle, to borrow the words of biographer James Flexner. As he rode past, the awestruck people grew silent, men removed their hats and said, "There rides the Great Washington."

Incredibly, Washington was humble and self-effacing. He regarded himself as a man of limited abilities and pronounced his life to be a failure! In the highest reaches of greatness, we discover a sublime humility.

Washington, as the very archetype of manliness, was the exact opposite to the false manhood of boasting, threatening, self-asserting macho pride. In the end, a quiet, steady spirituality of character embodies the essence of manhood at its best.

We, the sons of Washington

We, the men of America, are the sons of Washington, for he is the father of his country. As we answer the call of duty to serve America, let us follow Washington as his loyal troops followed him through tribulation unto victory. Because Washington was the most perfect exemplar our country has produced of what a man should be, let us learn from that example and grow into mature men, worthy of our heritage.

A message from Stephen Stone, President, RenewAmerica

I first became acquainted with Fred Hutchison in December 2003, when he contacted me about an article he was interested in writing for RenewAmerica about Alan Keyes. From that auspicious moment until God took him a little more than six years later, we published over 200 of Fred's incomparable essays — usually on some vital aspect of the modern "culture war," written with wit and disarming logic from Fred's brilliant perspective of history, philosophy, science, and scripture.

It was obvious to me from the beginning that Fred was in a class by himself among American conservative writers, and I was honored to feature his insights at RA.

I greatly miss Fred, who died of a brain tumor on August 10, 2010. What a gentle — yet profoundly powerful — voice of reason and godly truth! I'm delighted to see his remarkable essays on the history of conservatism brought together in a masterfully-edited volume by Julie Klusty. Restoring History is a wonderful tribute to a truly great man.

The book is available at Amazon.com.

© Fred Hutchison

 

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They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. —Isaiah 40:31