Challenging Men’s Culture of Entitlement in Times of Mass Shootings

(I originally posted this article in Good Men Project back in June 20, 2014 after the Isla Vista killings. 4 years later and NOTHING has changed.)
Helen: Everyone’s special, Dash.
Dash: [muttering] Which is another way of saying no one is.

The Incredibles (2004)

As we horribly wait for the next school shooting, which should happen in a couple of weeks if the prevalent pattern continues, we desperately try to find answers and solutions. We try to empathize with the killers, if for no other reason, out of guilt for failing these young men. You would think with the 74 school shootings within the last 18 months, we would have a clear profile by now. Yet, to date, the FBI’s attempts to profile school shooters haven’t found a determinative set of specific traits they consider good predictors. These were ordinary men and boys who chose out of the ordinary actions to express themselves… And there lies the profile, “Ordinary Young Men.”

We quickly make assumptions about the shooter being a misunderstood social outcast, victim of bullying with untreated mental illnesses and abusive parents. The reality is quite different. Many school shooters were honor roll students from “good” communities and affluent two-parent homes, and many didn’t have serious problems at school. They had friends, participated in extracurricular activities, and lead “normal” lives. But after the fact, many left journals and manifestos explaining how they felt wronged, how life was unfair, and how they were pushed to do what they did.
And we begin to feel sorry for them and our guilt kicks in. Did we really ignore the suffering of these young men? Did we bully them into retribution? Did we ignore all the signs of mental illness evident to cause these disasters? Is our society really this messed up?
And then, one interesting bit of information pops up. FBI studies show that school shooters tended to feel an exaggerated sense of entitlement, and that they reacted negatively when they were not treated the way they felt they were entitled to be treated. This sense of entitlement usually promotes an expressed intolerant attitude toward racial, ethnic, or religious minorities, as well as towards women and the LGBT community; all groups they view as being given unfair “special treatment.” This results in a sense of “aggrieved entitlement”, and as they view themselves as someone who “should be” at the top of the social order, this heightens their sense of being mistreated. When we take this into account, we begin to realize true magnitude of the problem.
As we think of criminal violence, we have the idea of the chaotic city, where random shootings done by “bad guys” carrying illegal guns happen every day. This fear has led to a rise of the “safer” homogenous community. What they have failed to realize is this kind of community is exactly where active shooter situations happen. Almost all school shootings happen in suburban and rural districts with multiple seemingly random or unspecific targets. The vast majority of these events were committed with guns purchased legally. Most of the killings were committed with semi-automatic hand guns or assault rifles.
But as psychologists try to create a profile of mass shooters, they are hit with the problem of “ordinariness.” As we try to create a relationship between mental health and active shooters; the reality is that most people with mental illness are not violent.
Many mass shootings are motivated by revenge or envy. That’s why many take place at a school or a workplace where shooters felt rejected. But again, to what degree is this feel a result of an exaggerated sense of entitlement, and to what degree is it actual rejection? These killers often exhibit risk factors that are generally tied to criminality: a history of abusive behavior, a tendency to hurt animals, a sadistic streak, self-centeredness, and a lack of compassion.
They plan out their actions and research their intended target area. In around 80% of school shootings at least one person had information that the attacker was thinking about or planning the school attack. In nearly 2/3, more than one person had information about the attack before it occurred. But how can this happen right under our noses without anyone noticing? We DO notice, but we choose to look the other way. And that’s where we have failed as a society.
The shooter may have journals; videos which they may send out to media outlets just before the attack or leave them accessible to the police. They may play off the notoriety of such events, fantasying about the infamy they will receive. At its core, these shootings are nothing more than an extreme demonstration of Trolling, an exhibition of egotistical narcissism to challenge the ordinary lives they lead.
We tell our kids every day just how special they are, and how proud we are of them no matter what. We love to brag as to how we feed their need to feel accepted, loved, and cared for, even if we don’t actually do it. We will fight any teacher who says they aren’t good enough or insult any coach who doesn’t take them into the team. We will sweep under the rug any problems they got into because that’s what a parent does. We will stand and fight for them, no matter what, because it’s our kid, and they are special and unique and the best kid around. Just like every other kid in their neighborhood.

Some embrace this sameness, others are eaten by it.

And we see the results of this attitude expressed all over society. From this perspective, we can realize how Elliot Rodger’s actions were a result of this aggrieved entitlement, and not just his hatred towards women. We can understand where a comment like “being sexually assaulted is a coveted status” comes from and the need to walk around with a fully loaded high powered rifle to go and pick up a box of Oreos. They create a disconnect with reality, where the only thing that matters is being the center of attention. They openly want the position of martyr, because at least as a martyr they are somebody. With all the media coverage, a school shooting is the ultimate demonstration of this attitude.

There is a way we can fix this situation and it’s creating a mentality of empathy, but not in the way you think. It’s not about being empathic with the boys, but about teaching them empathy. We need to fight the current society of self-centered narcissistic trolls that promotes this current trend of notoriety hunting. We need to stop worrying about the world we are leaving our children and start focusing what kind of children we are leaving the world.


Trophy Wives and Trophy Husbands

"If you're put on a pedestal, you're supposed to behave yourself like a pedestal type of person. Pedestals actually have a limited circumference. Not much room to move around."
Margaret Atwood
I have to admit that I’ve tried to be a trophy husband, the kind of husband that makes all of my wife’s friends envious of her.  I worked hard to get the professional title and the stable life. I try to stay fit and presentable, making sure I dress to impress every time I can. I find myself trying to develop my mind as well as my body, as I strive to become a better me. Why? Because I’m aware that I married a trophy wife. Between her intelligence, presence, looks, professionalism, and tenacity, she puts to shame most women out there. As her husband, I need to be up to her level. 
Yet, the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve realized how wrong I was.

Society, specially now thanks to social media and a “participation trophy” approach, has amped up the self serving attitude of entitlement into our relationships. We stop looking at each other as gifts to be appreciated, but rather as trophies we deserve. And this creates the most amusing and confusing paradox.

We do things for our partners with the intention of being appreciated. When we aren’t, we take it out on the person we’re trying to get close too. To simplify it, think of the guy who paid for dinner and gets pissed because she likes him only as a friend or the gal who gets pissed because the man didn’t try anything after she went through all the trouble of shaving her legs. Let’s be completely honest here for a second. This mentality isn’t about doing something special, it’s about receiving a return in your investment.
When we realize this attitude is used on us, we resist through lack of expressing appreciation, as we assume that being openly thankful means we’re letting the other person know we can be “bought” with gifts or actions. This leads to an attitude of entitlement, were we not only avoid showing appreciation but instead get pissed when we don’t get what we want. We’ve started to view worthwhile partners the same way we view participation trophies; consolation prizes just for showing up.

Life doesn’t work that way. Stop seeking appreciation and stop assuming you’ll get it.
So, this leaves us in a rather interesting place. If we’re not supposed to do things to win someone over, what do we do? Do things because you want to. When we realize that someone is important to us, for who they are and what they do for us, what should we do? You let them know!
Sounds pretty simple enough, right? Then why do we complicate it so much? Because as long as we view our life, our success, and the people around us as trophies, we tend to think we earned them and it becomes about “me,” not “we.” Because we have become so self centered that putting someone else first goes against everything we’ve been taught.
It’s time to go back to basics, to clean out all the bull shit relationship indoctrination that society has placed upon us. It’s ok to make an effort on yourself to impress someone else. Just don’t do it to buy their appreciation. And it’s ok to let someone know you appreciate them and their actions. Doing so doesn’t mean you’re not selling yourself to them. It just lets them know you care for them just as much.
The horrible or beautiful truth here is you’ll probably end up with someone who’s pretty much your equal. So, if you want someone worthwhile, you’d better make yourself worthwhile. Just remember that relationships with “worthwhile” people only last when you appreciated their worth.


In Honor Of The Lioness

There is no greater warrior than a mother protecting her child.
N.K. Jemisin
Here in Being Caballero, we spend a lot of time mentioning the importance of the warrior’s role within our society and within the person. We focus on the importance of being strong and fierce, if for nothing else, to be strong and fierce for personal development. The reality is that being a strong and fierce warrior is a necessity in your role of protecting your own; your family. And among the modern warriors who take care of their own, there is none as strong and fierce as the Warrior Mom; the Lioness.
We’ve all seen them… “That mom” who’s dug her heals in the sand and is unwilling to give an inch to life’s adversity, as she’s strengthen by her devotion to her children. She’s feared and respected by her children’s teachers, as she holds the mantle of being her kid’s greatest advocate. She’s feared and respected by her kid’s friends as even they know she will step in and “mother” them when needed. She’s feared and respected by her kid’s love interest, as she will call out and confront anyone taking advantage of them. She’s feared and respected by her own kid, as they know she will expect them to become the best version of themselves they can be. And above else, past the fear and respect, she is loved, as she has proven her devotion to her kid time and time again.
Afraid of pissing of the Dad? What makes you think that the Mom will be any less dangerous? She fears what might happen to her child, so she’s fearless. She wants her kids to be someone worth respecting, so she teaches them to be respectable by example.
As once the son of a Lioness and now husband to a Lioness, these women are the true embodiment of the woman warrior, the modern Shield Maidens. Women like these are the most impressive embodiment of motherhood, as they’re willing to do anything for their kids; even if it means putting their kids in their place. She is the impressive woman she is, not in spite of having kids, but thanks to having kids.
So Gentlemen, even if you might fancy yourself as a Lion, remember that the most dangerous member of the pride is the lioness protecting her young. Appreciate the Lionesses in your life. Appreciate the mother you had who was willing to do anything to make you a better man. And appreciate the mother of your child who’s willing to do anything needed to make your kid into a better person.
Any woman can have a child. Some mothers can raise them right. It takes a Lioness to teach them the strength needed to change the world. Be thankful of women like these in your life, as they are few and far between.


The Simple Difference Between Boys And Men

Manhood is the defeat of childhood narcissism.
David Gilmore
As a boy, I wanted to become an artist when I grew up, so I started looking into it. Every professional artist I spoke with gave me the same advice, “Learn to draw when you don’t want to.” At the time, this made no sense to me, yet as I grew older, I began to understand what it meant. The reasoning behind this tidbit of wisdom was simple. Anyone can draw when they’re inspired, when they’re in the mood, or when they have time to kill. Not everyone can draw when they’re tired, when they’re feed up with drawing, when racing a deadline, and when they have twenty other things on their mind. One is a hobby, the other a profession. “Do what you have to, not what you want to.” This was my first glimpse of true self-discipline.
As a kid, our parents told us when to go to bed, or what to eat, or how to dress, or what kind of friends we should or shouldn’t have. They forced upon us the obligation of homework and curfews. It was their role to keep us in check as they become the physical embodiment of the old roman goddess Disciplina. And as a child, we couldn’t wait till we grew up to do whatever the hell we wanted.
I would love to speak of how mistaken we should have been, but unfortunately society has become a hive of adults who lived on with that childhood delusion. We should have learned why responsible bedtimes exist, yet all night TV binge watching has proven otherwise. We should have learned why healthy eating habits exist, yet the epidemic of obesity has proven otherwise. We should have learned about the importance of responsibility, and obligations, and sharing, and charity, and kindness, and manners. The current states of affairs of this world have proven otherwise.
We live in a society that frowns upon self-control and self-restraint, so these lessons are rarely followed. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at how we react towards any comment promoting any kind self-discipline or even restraint. Greed becomes commendable when we measure success. Pride and vanity is celebrated though social media popularity. Wrath is little more than the alpha personality so prized by most motivational groups and a commendable emotion of every social justice warrior out there. Sloth and gluttony are embraced in a Binge watching society that embraces “accept me as I am” body types, were the Dad Bod becomes the norm. And lust? Just look at how easy sex sells anything.
There was a reason why the epitome of Roman “manliness” was based around the cult to the goddess Disciplina. Roman manhood, or “Virtus”, wasn’t defined by how many men you could defeat or how many women you could satisfy, but rather by how you could hold yourself back and how much control you had over yourself. It was about conquering your ego and the slavery that comes from self-gratification, as you conquered vanity, fear, pain, and self pity. The difference between a boy and a man was simple. A man had self-discipline.
Before we can even begin with lessons of character or even integrity, we need to develop our self discipline. It’s having enough self discipline to not act like an unsupervised child. We need to be our own enforcers, or own guardians. We need to learn to tell ourselves ‘No’ and keep ourselves in check.
As a grown man, you shouldn’t need to have your mother tell you what’s the right thing to do. You should already have learned that lesson. We need to learn that helping others shouldn’t be born from your mother’s request, but rather from your consciences. We need to learn that bills need to be paid before throwing away money on fanciful whims. We need to learn that has to be given respect freely but can only be received when earned. We need to leash our “basic” self through discipline and control.
Only then can you call yourself a man.


More Than Just Words

The measure of a man's character is what he would do if he knew he never would be found out.
Thomas Babington Macaulay
As of late, there has been a rise in the amount of Men’s Empowerment and Gentlemen Motivational groups and workshops. And this is a wonderful thing as it helps spread out the word that character and morals are important within a man’s life. With our casual access to social media, pages similar to this one help guide men who’ve lost their way back in the right path. They serve as a North Star off which men can cast their own route to becoming better men.  Unfortunately, the same popularity that has brought together men searching for ways to become better men has also attracted plenty of lesser men with ulterior motives.
You would think that a message of “Men of Character” or “True Gentleman” would scare off the daring of plagiarists and hypocrites feeding their vanity through the modern social media currency of likes, shares, and followers.  Personal experience has proven the contrary as I already mentioned once before.  The problem is how as of late, this movement has also started to attract the vultures, those unethical sites and motivators looking to profit by exploiting the weak.
Let me make it perfectly clear, there is nothing wrong with someone charging for sharing their knowledge. There is nothing wrong for profiting from your own efforts. If you work for it, you might as well get paid for it. And that’s OK. We all have bills to pay and mouths to feed. “Monetizing” isn’t a bad word.
My problem is when I find “Gentlemen” Coaches plagiarizing the work of other gentlemen pages and selling it as their own. Even more amazing is the laziness of their actions, as they will take content and graphics straight from the original site and simply crop out the logo. You would think that selling lessons in character and integrity would have rubbed off on the teacher.
And Gentlemen sites aren’t the only ones affected with this practice.
You might have noticed that as soon as you get a cool quote popping up on your social media feed, about 10 minutes later you will see the same quote pasted on about 5 different memes from like minded sites. Again, you would think that sites promoting integrity would be above acts of moral turpitude, or would at the very least understand the concept of “clean hands.”
You see, when your moral integrity is questionable ANY words you state have no value, as you have already been proven to be untrustworthy. Stealing someone’s intellectual property and then sell it forward as your own pretty much invalidates any claim you might have towards words like Character and Integrity.

Confronting My Own Bias

Right actions in the future are the best apologies for bad actions in the past.
Tryon Edwards
As someone who constantly writes about men owning up to their own preconceptions and bias, I felt it rather appropriate to own up to one of my own; one that was blown clear out of the water a few months ago and didn’t realize it till recently. So, instead of trying to justify my own bias, it’s time to stop making excuses and offer an open apology to every fitness buff, gym rat, health nut, and nutritionist out there.
You guys know what you’re talking about.
Keep in mind that I’ve never been a full blown couch potatoes.
Let me start by admitting where my own bias was born. I was never part of the jock clique, as I found my passion and inspiration in the artistic and intellectual endeavors as a kid. Sports? I was never really into them. That doesn’t mean I was out of shape, as I practiced martial arts for most of my life, did some track back in high school, and was an avid BMX/Freestyler for the longest time when I was a kid. But the social faction mindset of school led me to embrace the dumb jock bias from my youth without realizing it.
Sure, I (sort of) worked out and tried to eat (sort of) healthy but, if I’m completely honest, it was never really a priority (to the dismay of every doctor I went to). Life? Way too complicated to take the time to worry about eating right all the time and to worry about taking care of myself. If anything, my lack of health was my testimony and proof to my dedication to what really mattered within my life. An hour in the gym was an hour I wasn’t hustling for a project or an hour I wasn’t doing something for the family.
How easy do we end up telling ourselves that taking care of your body is selfish? Or even vain? Right?
So, when last Movember rolled around, I started to participate in their Move campaign. With one simple exception this time… As I’ve written about men’s health and the importance of taking care of yourself, this time I took it a bit more serious. So I started to look into doing it right.
First step? I sat down with Ms. B  who, besides being our resident copyright enforcer, is a long time nutrition and workout enthusiast. She could point me in the right direction, offering me an extensive selection of tools and advice. And then something amazing started to happen. I actually followed through on her recommendations. I started researching on every fitness site, sat down with a nutritionist and a fitness coach. And the more I learned and the more I discussed strategies and plans with them, the more I realized that those “dumb jocks” weren’t dumb at all. If anything, they are made to feel dumb by society stereotyping them.
You’re average gym rat often has an amazing understanding of nutrition, body mechanics, and general health. And it made perfect sense (when I took of my own blinders). If the serious surfer has an excellent understanding of meteorology and oceanography, why wouldn’t the serious fitness enthusiast have an excellent understanding of everything involving making your body better?
It’s funny. We have no problem believing a doctor when they give you a prescription for 20 different pills, but should they tell you to take care of your body, work out, or eat healthier to avoid taking medication, we want a second opinion and pretty much insult the doctor’s intelligence. Long story short…I started doing things the right way, instead of “my” way. And, to quote every single click bait article online, “you’ll never guess what happened next!” It worked.
There is a down side to this realization though. I had own up to every excuse, to every time I bullshitted myself, to every dismissive comment and attitude I might have had. I stopped making up “logical” justifications as to why they could do it and I couldn’t, most of which involved putting them down and making me look good. I’ve realized I’ve been somewhat of an asshole dismissing their advice all this time. Today? I’m all out of excuses. Because the best testimony of self sacrifice I can have towards myself and those around me is to be healthy enough to last a long time and fit enough to make it worthwhile.



Every kid needs a mentor. Everybody needs a mentor.
Donovan Bailey
We’ve probably all heard the comments, of how boys have few male role models thanks to the absentee fathers. This is the main reason why we have today men who don’t know how to be good men, men of character and integrity. Personally? I don’t buy it.
That would mean any man raised by a single mom, by a dad who has to work double shifts just to make ends meet, the sister raising her little brother, or any other combination of alternate family would predestine the boy to grow up into a less than worthwhile man.  It also means that any boy raised with an ever present father will automatically become a good man. And both cases, as we’ve seen in life, are bullshit.
Do boys need a good male role model? Absolutely! Does it HAVE to be the father? It would be nice, but not necessarily. You see, male role models come in every single shape and size, ever profession and every social class. Just look back at your own life. What man showed you what it meant to be a good man? It’s might have been the sports coach, the school teacher, the martial arts instructor, your first manager, your counselor, your drill sergeant, or simply your next door neighbor.
Male role model and mentors are nothing more than the man who shows you by example how to be a good man. It’s about giving boys hope, that they can be more than they are now. It’s about minimizing the gap between the boy they are now and the man they could be in the future. It’s not about pointing out everything that kids today do wrong, but about showing them what they could be if they tried to do things right.
And on the flip side, being an example to these boys keep us in check, something we desperately need as well. They remind us that our actions have meaning, to reconsider every time we want to quit, to do the right thing every time we’re given options, and to walk the path of the righteous man. Nothing keeps someone walking the straight and narrow as knowing they make a difference in someone’s life.
You might think that you’re not role model material, or that it’s unfair to place that kind of responsibility and burden upon your shoulders. Guess what. You don’t really have a choice in the matter. You’re actions will either be an example or a justification to the actions of those who come up behind you. Realizing this means you own up to every single action, attitude, and decision you make in your life. No longer are you living for yourself, but rather you start living for everyone else within society.
You want a world full of great men? You want men to walk within a positive life? You want boys who can make a difference? Start by being a great man, walking a positive life, and make a difference. If you’re lucky, someone will be watching and taking notes.

Slave To The Masculine Pendulum

My men have turned into women and my women into men!
Herodotus (484 BC –   425 BC)
Masculinity is going through a social redefinition, as the old “Boys don’t cry” has been finally called out and we’ve opened up our eyes to the damage we’ve caused our boys. Phrases like toxic masculinity have become common place within our everyday language, we’ve realized that maybe we’ve been doing future generations a disservice by placing unhealthy expectation of the world’s men. And so have been born the foundations of a more sensitive masculinity.
And for an instant I’m full of hope for the next generation of men; men sensitive enough to appreciate the world we live in, men with compassion and empathy. Unfortunately, this isn’t what’s happening. The end result has less to do with empathy, sensitivity, and compassion and more to do with conformity, entitlement, and selfishness.
Masculinity, like so many other aspects within our world, has become a pendulum. To stray away from the moral and emotional damage created by the “tough it out” mentality, we’ve embraced the full swing of the now emotionally open “modern masculinity.” The problem being that the pendulum has swung so far that we now have men to soft to deal with a simple reality.
The world isn’t a nice place and will break you if you let it.
Yes, emotional openness is crucial for a healthy life. If you’re unable to appreciate the beauty within our world and understand the emotional intelligence we all posses, there isn’t much left to live for. The problem lies in the fact that we’ve moved from the desensitized extreme to the overly sensitive extreme. We’ve taught men that it’s ok to cry, that it’s ok to ask for help, and that the world should show men more understanding. The problem happens when we, in fear of bringing back the old toxic aspects of masculinity, we won’t teach them to “Man Up,” as we teach them that their emotions matter more than dealing with life. And this wouldn’t be an issue if we didn’t forgot to teach them that life doesn’t stop while you cry your heart out.
Before you get all offended, take a moment to consider the following examples:
A boy puts out his heart for all to see, but the girl’s not interested. 

A young man about to head off to college just found out that he’s going to be a father. 

A business man who’s given his life to his company gets fired due to financial issues out of his control. 

A husband just found out his wife has terminal disease. 

A father is told that his child has a permanent condition that will make the rest of their life more challenging. 

A man dealing with a divorce, with a death, with an illness, with failure, with life in general… 

These are just some of the simple realities of life, the ones that teach you just how unfair it all can be. You can choose to curl up in a ball and break down as you feel sorry for yourself, or you can stand up tough, look at life straight in its eyes, smile, and utter the most empowering words you’ll ever learn.
“Bring it on.”

That girl who’s not interested in you doesn’t owe you her affection, no matter how much that might hurt. That child to be born isn’t going to stop while you decide to grow up emotionally enough to be a dad, no matter how unprepared you might be for that new role. That job you prioritized over your family, the one that defined who you were, showed you that putting your faith on your job will lead to emptiness when it’s gone no matter how much effort you put into it. And most importantly, when life goes into a whirlwind of chaos and those around you need your strength and support, do you really think breaking down emotionally helps in any way? Does self pity? There will be enough time for that afterwards, when you finish dealing with it.
It’s not that we should go back to the emotionally castrated manhood of the past. Nor is the solution what we’ve taught now as we’ve moved into the overly emotional drama full manhood of today. If we want a respectable manhood, we have to create men worth respecting. We need men who are soft enough to embrace their emotions while at the same time strong enough to not become victims of his own heart. Strength and sensitivity aren’t exclusionary. We need to teach boys to be tough enough to deal with life’s challenges, and soft enough to understand that life is worth the effort.


Of Modern Warriors

I do what I do because it is the right thing to do. I am a warrior, and it is the way of the warrior to fight superior odds.
Paul Watson

If you've been reading my posts for a while, you have noticed my constant references to having a warrior's mindset towards life. You might think this is a rather romantic way of looking at life, considering that professional soldiers have replaced the warrior class of the past generations. You might even think this mentality in some way glorifies a violent tradition and celebrates wars. Because there are people who think this way is precisely why we must never lose the warrior culture.
There is a distinct difference between a soldier and a warrior. Soldiers, with all the respect that they deserve, are employees. Their actions are determined by the chain of command and their direction is defined by their orders.  Warriors are "self developed." Their actions are determined by their dedication to a greater good and their direction is defined by their ideals. There are certainly plenty soldiers who are warriors, but not all are. There are also certainly plenty warriors who aren't soldiers, but not enough.
But what defines a warrior? His ability to fight? No...Anyone can be taught to fight if they're willing to learn. Warrior is something you become, not something you learn. It comes from accepting that you must become comfortable with being uncomfortable to make a difference. It's knowing that how you make a difference matters as much as the goal. And it all starts with 3 simple concepts so ingrained into their heart that they might just be fire branded on to their soul. It's about having a purpose, having honor, and having courage.
A warrior has a purpose, as he serves with determination because it's the right thing to do. It could be to a moral, ideological, or even a personal cause, but whatever it is, it serves as a source of strength to them when they have to push past their own limits. And limits are what make warriors so powerful. Limits define how far someone can go. To a warrior, limits are nothing more than the starting gate to test his determination. Anything that happened before is simply a warm up.
Honor, so often dismissed by those who don't understand it's importance or are unwilling to be honorable, is the understanding that how you do something is as important as what you are doing. It's about being honest to a fault, about being decent and straight forward. It's a willingness to admit your intentions, something rare in a world where we justify trickery and misdirection as acceptable actions when done to our convenience. It's about openly drawing a sword when others will hide a dagger. It's about being accountable for your actions when others look for excuses.
And lastly, he is courageous, not because he's fearless, but because of his acceptance to a life of self-sacrifice. In a world that constantly promotes the ideals of selfishness and self-preservation, the warrior is defined by his willingness to help others, regardless of personal risk or loss. He's comfortable with the fact that a life worth living requires self sacrifice, even if that sacrifice is his own life. It's not that he cares little for his own safety, but rather that he cares more for the safety of those around him.
In a world of scavengers trying to feed of the weak and sheep unable to defend themselves, warriors aren't just needed...they are crucial to our existence. They hold at bay the threats that others don't see or refuse to acknowledge. They are the ones who, not only see how precious life is, but are also willing to fight for it.
So, to my fellow warriors, my brothers, keep your swords sharp, your sword arm strong, and your head high. For we might be few but, when it really matters, we are more than enough.

Role Models, Sexting, and Child Pornography

Shout out to all of the women, across the world, using their brains, their strength, their work ethic, their talent, their ‘magic’ that they were born with, that only they possess. It may not ever bring you as much ‘attention’ or bank notes as using your body, your sex, your tits and asses, but women like you don’t need that kind of ‘attention.’

In the quiet moments, you will feel something deeper than the fleeting excitement resulting from attention; you will feel something called pride and self respect. Keep resisting the urge to cave. You’ll never have to make silly excuses for yourself.
Some time ago, the internet went into a short lived “frenzy,” as internet frenzies go, as a social media celebrity posted yet another nude picture of herself. Some people criticized her for exploiting her looks and objectifying herself while other’s applauded her bravery for embracing her body and being empowered by her sexuality. If I’m completely honest, I couldn’t have care less about the entire affair. It’s her life, her body, and her choices. Besides, I have better things to do with my time and if I’m even more honest, the modern definition of “bravery” still seems to elude me. That’s till I heard the phrase “role model for young girls” being thrown around, and I was appalled.
You may notice how I try to steer away from discussions that in any way tell women how to act or behave. I leave that kind of discussions about women and their issues to those who know more about them than I do, specifically women. But when we use terms like role models to young girls, there are plenty of fathers who need to realize the very real danger of this kind of debate. Those who have daughters need to see what society defines as applaudable behavior to women. Those who have sons need to see how society defines as worth while women.
And just as the modern definition of “bravery” seems to elude me, the definition of “role model” seems to elude so many within our society. At its simplest form, a role model is someone you try to emulate, as they represent the standard you want to achieve. They are the example of what you can become. So when we say that this woman is a role model for young girls, you are saying that young girls should emulate (read as copy) her actions. And I might here you saying that nobody can tell girls what to do with their body, as doing so would be body shaming or just plain sexist.
That’s great and all if you also took the time to tell girls (and boys) the legal consequences of taking half naked pictures of themselves! A naked pic of anyone under 18 is basically child pornography. That means anyone taking the pic, even if it’s of themselves is manufacturing child pornography from a criminal perspective. And yes…Child, under the definition of the law is anyone under 18 years of age. So that 16 year old girl taking a topless pic of herself or that 17 year old boy taking a dick pic is in fact producing Child pornography. And to those unaware of the legal consequences, this is a first degree crime; you know.. with a penalty comparable to premeditated murder.
And it gets even more interesting from there.
Having a questionable picture of a minor (even if it’s of yourself) in your phone constitutes possession of Child pornography (5 years in prison) while forwarding it (or posting it online) constitutes distribution (10 years in prison). Sending a nude pic to a minor (again, younger than 18) is exposing them to pornography and “corrupting influences,” each location having their own selection of criminal penalties. FB and Instagram banning nipple shots has nothing to do with slut shaming and everything to do with legal regulations.
The problem here is that parents want to believe that our teens are old enough to handle themselves, something our teens try to convince us about constantly. It’s that or parents don’t want to assume their obligation as parents. Pick which ever you want, the criminal system doesn’t really care. The legal system defines a child in the simplest way possible. Under 18? You’re problem, mom and dad. Oh, by the way, Social Services wants to sit down with you and chat about the kind of household you have.
Its funny how during the entire debate of whether a person can be empowered by posting their body all over the internet and how we should respect her as a role model, not once did anyone explain to young girls and boys what would happen if they did the same. Any picture with any kind of questionable content that gets posted, forwarded, or unwittingly uploaded to a cloud will last for eternity and will resurface when they can cause the most damage to a person. Ironically, this was something the celebrity mentioned she deals with every time her sex tape resurfaces, yet not once did she tell her younger followers to not do.
You don’t want something to resurface? Start by not posting it.
You might think that I’m exaggerating the repercussions, as this kind of behavior is so common place nowadays. The reality is that the laws haven’t yet caught up with social media and phone trends. Sure, courts might be lenient if they understand that this was a dumb kid making a dumb mistake. Other times they might not and make an example of the youth.
That doesn’t get us, as parents, off the hook for not teaching our kids the consequences of their actions, online and offline. We need to understand that even if it’s their phone, it’s our legal responsibility how they use it. We need to be more selective on who we assign the label of role model. Most importantly, it’s our job to teach our kids that if they ever want respect, they first have to respect themselves.

The Deadliest Place On Earth

Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in.
Michael Corleone (Al Paccino)
We’ve all dealt with challenges and difficulties. We’ve grown and become better men for it. We start down the path of transforming into better men, proud of what we’ve overcome and who we’ve become. Yet, more often than not, we find ourselves falling into old habits and old attitudes, into the same places that caused us, and those around us, so much damage. So, if we know full well why we moved beyond this mentality once already, why do we return to it again? The answer is rather simple. It’s because that’s our QUERENCIA.
Querencia is that place where you feel safe, were you can lower your guard as you feel at home. It’s were we draw our strength and return to refocus, as it’s were we learned to grow strong. This might sound like a good place, but consider the following.
In a bullfight, querencia is where the bull will naturally go to in the ring. As the fight goes on, he will define a space within the arena as his home turf, returning to it with every pass, as he feels it’s his safe zone. The problem arises when the matador is able to identify the bull’s querencia, turning the bull’s actions into predicable. And at the end, the bull’s downfall happens because the bull always returns to what’s familiar to him instead of trying something new. He’s killed because he fell prey to his own comfort zone.
In life, more often than not, we’re not the bullfighter but rather the bull. We might be strong and imposing, but all too predictable. We charge full tilt into the cape, not realizing that the real danger comes from the one holding the cape. He get blinded by our own experiences, as we assume that any problem can be handled with a head on charge, as we’ve become confident in our own strength and toughness.
Sure, we’ll try something new every once in a while. And we’ll see the positive results from it. The true threat happens when, if we’re not careful, we’ll return to our old habits as we stop trying to fight, as we simple react. We hand over control of our lives to old habit as soon as we stop thinking and fighting. That’s going to get you killed.
So, how do you get past it?
You can start by getting rid of all the enablers you have around you. That couch where you would waste your days, that bar where you would head over every time you felt helpless, that friend who kept you from moving forward, or old relationship you seem to never get past. All those things were never safe harbor but rather an anchor in your life. Learn to break free from their chains.
After you free yourself from the old you, create and evolve a new querencia to go along with your new life. I’m not saying you should forget where you came from, but understand that you are no longer that person. Let go of old habits and reactions. Be aware of them and be able to recognize them when they creep up on you. Repeating old mistakes rarely teach you new lessons.


The Craftsman And His Apprentice (Guest Post)

Again, the wordsmith Luke Davis graces us with another of his posts. I leave you now with “The Craftsman and His Apprentice.”

As an apprentice Jim was given the job of making bread boards, knife blocks and other simple household knickknacks. The complicated work of course was done by Simon who did the chairs and cabinets and other ornate work. Every Saturday on market day, Jim’s work would be put outside for sale while the ornate work was reserved for inside. Every week nearly all of Jim’s goods would sell while only very rarely did Simon’s, but when they did they sold for quite a large sum of money. This bothered Jim a little.
Firstly, he always worried about his work, he was only a new apprentice and his products lacked the finesse that Simon could have done. Every Saturday he fretted over every flaw that people might see in his goods and resolved to do a better job next week. Secondly, he wondered why Simon put the worst goods, Jim’s, out on display where everyone could see while he hid his finest quality work inside the shop. Surely Simon would make a greater profit with his best material forward.

So one day Jim asked Simon about his worries, why did Simon do things this way? Of course Simon answered. “I have my finest work on display, every week my customers walk by and they can see what sort of man I am crafting. If I couldn’t craft a man I would merely be a carpenter and of no use in this town. Furniture they can buy in yonder city, but only men like me can take a boy like you and turn him into a man. So when I judge you ready, a craftsman you shall be, and together we will craft more men. Parents will seek us out hoping to place their sons at our door because every week for longest of times they have seen my finest work.”


Give The Young And Foolish Some Room To Grow

Experience is the hardest kind of teacher. It gives you the test first and the lesson afterward.
Oscar Wilde
As I look back at my youth, I usually end up with the same conclusion: “the fact that I survived into adulthood is amazing.” Regrets? I’m not sure I would call them regrets. All the foolish mistakes, wild adventures, and dumb decision I made growing up made me into the man I am today. If I’m completely honest, whatever wisdom I have now at this age is thanks to having been foolish during my youth. And then I look upon today’s youth and become saddened, not because of how they are, but rather because of how we are as parents.

My youth was made up off broken bones and a heart broken enough times to fill a Victorian library. It was made up of scars, physical and psychological, and enough secrets kept from the authority figures around me that I would have made any Italian Mobster proud. I learned that the world could be beautiful and devastating, uplifting and unforgiving, all at the same time. I took enough risks to believe myself invincible, yet the simplest things like walking up to a cute girl were terrifying. And it was all glorious, or at least as glorious as a tragic accident where the people involved survived could be.

It taught me that unknown roads lead to adventures, and adventures lead to unbelievable stories. It taught me that the only way I would to be heard was to speak up. It taught me that risk sometimes pans out while other times it meant getting hurt. And it taught me that with enough time, you can get over getting hurt. Scars meant bragging rights, respect can be earned by standing up for yourself, and knowing how to keep a secret forged loyalties.

Then I look at myself as a parent, as I know that my kids are now learning all those same lessons, and I find myself dealing with the personal terror of “letting go of the bike even if it means your kid falls down.”  We tend want to keep our kids safe, take on the world’s horrors and dangers for them. We want to keep them safe while at the same time provide them the best tools for them to make something out of themselves. But are we really providing them the best tools when we never let them learn how to use these tools? No matter how many times my martial arts maestro told me to keep my guard up, I never really did it till after I got hit… hard…  several times… on the face.

People don’t learn by being told what to do, but rather by being allowed to do.  They’ll learn even when they fail. This is especially true when they also learn what can go wrong by not doing. The lessons you learn best are usually the one that cost you. Yet we constantly try to keep our kids from learning that way, in a misguided sense of parental protection.

You can’t complain about a man who doesn’t know how to basic car maintenance, when you bought him a new car when he was 16. You can’t complain about a man who doesn’t know how to keep up a house if you never asked him to even take care of his room. You can’t complain about a man who’s entitled if you constantly keep bailing him out of trouble. We can’t really complain about men who can’t handle life’s challenges without calling out a parent who never let the kid face challenges by himself.

So, what can you do to prepare your kid for a stern world? All you can do is mentor them and become an example for them to emulate. All you can do is provide them with the tools they might need along their way. And at the end, all you can do is really hope it was enough and pray for the best while trying to be emotionally ready to let them learn from their mistakes.


The Rise Of Strong Women, Fall Of Soft Men, And Return Of Gentlemen

In soft regions are born soft men.
A few days ago, a video popped up within my media feed, an editorial closing, posing a question that keeps popping up, especially from the lips of women; “Have men become too soft?”

The presenter mentioned several causes for the rise of these “soft” men. Was it the wussification of men, as so many want to allege? Maybe everything would be solved if we could just get men to toughen up. Was it the demonization of masculinity so badly that being a man is now shameful? Maybe everything would be solved if men would start being proud of being manly. I don’t think either attitude will solve the issue.

At the end, she did mention what could be the key cause and actual solution to the problem. “Teach your sons to be men, because the women of the world are tired of the boys.” The problem was that for the longest time, society was in such a hurry to make men out of boys, that we never taught boys how to be men.

Consider that for the last couple of decades, men were told that their value as men rested on being better than other men. It rested on having financial stability through a good job; proven to the world through an expensive car and a nice house. It rested on how many women they can sleep. It rested in being able to get a beautiful wife when they finally decided to settled down. Then, it’s rested on having a family they can show off. Just consider at how we portray politicians and successful men. They stand proudly as their wife and kids become decoration around them, as proof of their stability. In the backdrop, we see either their homes or cars as prove of their wealth. The entirety of this kind of manhood rested on such a fragile foundation made up of external factors that even the most simplest of things caused their world to tumble down. This lead too many men into feel a sense of obsoleteness as soon as life threw them a curve ball.

If someone faster or stronger than him shows up, he’s no longer a man. If he became unemployed and loses his financial stability, he he’s no longer a man. If he gets shot down by a woman, he’s no longer a man. If his kids didn’t measure up to his expectations, he’s no longer a man. When you think about it, under this mentality, those things that “make him a man,” are also the biggest threat to his ideal of manhood. Unemployment, failure, divorce, “disappointing kids,” or simply being told “no” by a woman become a direct assault on their masculinity.

As a response to this attitude, we demonized manhood, or at least what was sold to us as manhood for the last few decades. Society went off chanting the damage these expectations placed on men, as we blamed everything on toxic masculinity. We did our best to swing the pendulum of manhood as far away as possible from the old traditions.  And as the pendulum started to sway away from this previous mindset, we began to praise any man who did things previously considered manly, followed up by shaming any man who expressed interest in any form of traditional masculinity. It was as if to avoid being a slave to masculinity, we now became slaves to “anti-masculinity.” Social media became flooded with men screaming “look at how sensitive I am” as if it proved to the world how they broke free from the bonds of manhood. At the same time, chivalry, and any other idea traditionally tied to masculinity, was shamed as sexist, at best, or toxic, at worse.

And then, slowly but surely, it happened.

We realized that we almost killed off what made men valuable within society and what made men of value. If before we taught men to be ethically infant brutes, now we created ethically infant milksops. We told men that the old traditions of honor and chivalry were harmful, and then wonder why men today feel like they have no purpose. We ridiculed the importance of honor, and wonder why we have men without loyalty. We demonized strength and wonder why men today have no valor. We, pretty much, castrated men as we told them how masculinity was bad, and then wonder where all the “real men” are.

In our haste to make men out of boys, we failed them twice. The first time, we failed them by creating brutes without humility, as we forgot to teach them character every time we taught them the value of strength. Then, in our attempt to fix it, we created sensitive men who were little more than useless as soon they faced a challenge. We forgot to teach them the value of determination and valor when we taught them about compassion. As some men grew disenchanted with society constantly telling them what it means to be a man, we’re now having to deal with a third group; men who are brutes in times of peace yet cowards in times of conflict, the worst of both worlds.

But fortunately, all is not lost.

Just as there has been a rise in true Strong Independent Women, men have been developing our own counterpart. We are witnessing a rise in men who’ve taken it upon themselves to bring back the old lessons personal character, to teach themselves how to be better men. These men realized that the problem wasn’t masculinity but rather everything that was edited out of masculinity. The solution didn’t lie in dismissing the lessons learned from the past, but rather taking the best lessons from the past while embracing the world of the present. Instead of ending up with the worst of both worlds, we began to strive for the best of both worlds.

In this process, men have begun to realize what manhood truly meant. It’s not about proving you’re better than other men, but about striving to be better than the man you were before. It’s about being able to stand before a challenge and push yourself. It’s not about making money, but about making a difference. It’s not about having a job, but about having the work ethic to get things done. It’s not about owning a house or having a wife and family. It’s about making a home, being a good husband and an involved dad.

Men have realized that it’s you should never become either a brute or a meek man exclusively. Instead, we are now seeing men who used to be brutes, yet strive to find their compassion and humility. We see men who used to be meek developing their determination and being empowered by the strength that comes from valor. It’s about growing stronger AND softer, and yet never compromising either. These men have taught themselves these lessons, and more importantly, are teaching these lessons to the next generation of men. And for the first time in a long time, we are seeing a rebirth of mentorship, as society is finally waking up to the importance of men becoming proper role models for boys, as they teach through example.

For now, we are few, but every day we are more. We are the modern Lancelots and Galahads, the new errant knights, who realized that we could be more than what society sold to us as manhood. We are the new philosophers, poets, and the warriors, as we try to bring back honor by reforging masculinity. We are the new Gentlemen of the Modern World.

And to the ladies having a hard time finding us, the worthwhile men … If it’s any consolation, men are having just a hard time trying to find the worthwhile ladies as well. Quality isn’t that common.

Bromances, Peer Pressure, And The Homosexual Terror

We always sort of flinch at this ‘bromance’ buzzword that’s come up… because of this homosexual terror that straight guys have. It’s ridiculous.
Simon Pegg
Society tends to form bonds through the act of casting aside anyone who thinks or acts differently than what’s “acceptable.” They will feel empowered by vulturing together, as they pray on anyone deemed as deserving shame; breading an “Us vs. Them” mentality, where “Us” is always right. We can see this behavior within most social groups, as power is maintained through the constant threat of social ridicule. Just look back at you’re school years, were the popular kids would gang up on the outcasts as a show of force. This has taught people to hide behind mock strength or to gravitate to cliques in a desperate need to find protection in numbers. This also taught people that the easiest way to keep everyone in line was through open shaming.

We’re more familiar with this concept when we view what girls have to deal with growing up. In their case, the behavior of girls is dominated through slut shaming by both boys and other girls. They are told how to act, how to speak, how to dress, and even what to think under the threat of being called a slut, irrelevant of how sexually active they actually are. But this doesn’t work the same way with boys, right? Boys can’t be shamed with anything sexual.

Although I previously wrote on how men ARE slut shamed, the reality of peer pressure among boys comes from a different word, even though it’s still about sex. Among boys, the biggest social threat isn’t if they’re “sluts,” or even if they’re weak. The peer pressure comes from questioning their sexuality with a very different perspective. They use the word “Gay,” as it assumes the notion that being gay is being less of a man.

“Gay” becomes an adjective used to shame boys into going along with the group. A boy has a best friend with whom they spend all their free time with, or could even call up for help to stand up to others? They must be gay. A boy cries? He must be gay. A boy says something nice about how another boy looks? He must be gay. A boy takes care of his appearance? Plays with dolls? Reads poetry? Get good grades? Likes theater? Or art? Or even music? The universal put down answer to all these things? Gay.

Before we rally behind the notion of how it’s boys hurt other boys, how the patriarchy and our male dominated sexist society is the one hurting men, keep in mind how girls will do the exact same thing to boys. A girl doesn’t receive the attention she wants from a boy? It must be that he’s gay. Rejected by a boy? It must be because he’s gay. If he likes to spend more time with his male best friend than her? He has to be gay, because that’s the only reason why he’d choose his friends over her. Doesn’t want to sleep with her? Obviously gay. Questioning a boy’s sexuality becomes a simple way some girls go on to control them. If he asks for her emotional support or calls her out for being abusive? Has to be because he’s gay, because a real man would be able to put up with her.

As a way to keep boys and latter on men in check, society ends up preying off the same insecurities that was bashed into their brains, as we created the need to prove their “Straightness” and an ingrained into their mind the “Homosexual Terror” (the fear of being viewed as gay). This has lead to some of men to be unable to handle their own sexuality in the cases of actually being gay. It also has a lasting damaging effect on straight men, as it creates a subconscious fear being viewed as gay, as they feel the need to prove just how straight they are. We see it in the constant need to validate their masculinity through signs of strength or sexual prowess. Some people might accuse these men of being homophobic, but the reality is quite different. These men know how society (both men and women) treats anyone viewed as a “lesser man” and are constantly told that gays are lesser men. (Read as “Be a Real Man”)

And before you assume that society had been moving into a more inclusive and accepting mindset as we become more accepting of gays, that we’ve moved into a less homophobic culture, the only thing we’ve done is to move into a more politically correct embrace of men’s sexuality. We still give an overwhelming importance to a man’s sexuality, as if it being gay or straight defines his manhood. We still make the constant sexual innuendoes of a couple of men being close friends. You see it with every famous on screen bromance, as suddenly the internet becomes full of fan fiction gay erotica about them. Any male celebrity who takes care of his appearance or is sensitive or emotionally open, the gay rumor mills will run on overdrive.

Fortunately, some men are actually starting to take a stand against this attitude. During an interview, Tom Hardy was faced with this kind of issue. The reporter kept throwing several innuendos about the possibility of him having a homosexual experience in his past. Mr. Hardy, with the sternest expression possible, bluntly shut down the situation with a two simple questions.

“Are you asking about my sexuality?”

The interviewer could do little more than change the subject, as trying to follow up on it would expose the notion that the actor’s sexuality defines the man’s masculinity. Do you know why Mr. Hardy’s confrontation of that type of question and that type of attitude was so important? Because his sexual experiences are NOBODY’S FUCKING PROBLEM. It won’t make him a better or worse actor, nor will it make him a better or worse man. And yet social media is obsessed in defining who is gay and who isn’t. We, as a society, need to change this. And we, as men, need to stop playing the “of course I’m not gay” game.

You’re Gay? Fine. You’re Bi? Fine. You’re Straight? Fine. Your sexuality should only matter to YOU. (and your partner, obviously) Who cares what others think? Placing your value as a man on who you’d rather aim your penis is a pretty superficial way to define yourself as a man. Most men understand that their sexuality doesn’t make them more or less of a man. Letting your actions be dominated by someone else’s opinion of your sexuality makes even less sense.

How can we stop playing that game? For starters, by not ostracizing anyone because of their sexual orientation. Stop putting so much stock on whether they’re gay or not. “Oh, but if they’re gay, they’ll hit on me!” has to be the dumbest reason to shun someone off. . That’s like saying you won’t be friends with a girl you don’t want to sleep with, simply because she might hit possibly on you at some time in the imaginary future. If anything, you should feel flattered if he hits on you.

From there, don’t let the idea of being called gay stop you…

Don’t let it stop you from telling your male friends how important they are in your life. The fact that they’re guys should never stop you. Keep in mind that adding “in a hetero way” is you pretty much admitting how you’re still being a slave to social shaming. On a side note, saying “I love you” when you’re drunk doesn’t count. Most people that need to be drunk to say “I love you” are the same people who say “I love you” to whatever bartender gave them a drink after last call.

Don’t let the idea of being called gay stop you from pursuing your dreams and passions. You love dance? Dance away. You like painting? Unleash yourself on a canvas. Music? Acting? Macramé? More power to you! At least you have a dream, a passion, and a purpose to pursue; which is a lot more than what most people have. Just make sure you have the dedication and talent to back it up.

Don’t let the idea of being called gay define how you present yourself to the world. Have no shame in being as eloquent or elegant as you want to. Last time I checked, your sexuality had nothing to do with how you dress, what your grooming habits are, or how you speak. Swearing while wearing a run down tee-shirt and sweats don’t make you any more straight. Neither does having proper diction while wearing nice shirt or pressed slacks make you gay.

If we want to move past this mentality, we need to move away from giving such an important role within our society to men’s sexuality. We need to stop feeding the trolls by assuming that men are defined by where they point their penis. We need to stop viewing men as slaves their dicks. Maybe if we stop telling men that they have no self control or that they need to prove to everyone their sexuality, men can show us that they are more than we give them credit for. 

I don’t want anyone to think that with this post I am excusing homophobia, or in any way denying it. Homophobia is real. There are people (men and women) who still discriminate against others based on their sexual orientation. This article should in no way make you think that we, as a society, are past it.

If you’re a guy who think being gay makes anyone less of a man, let me just tell you one thing. Gay men have accepted their sexuality in a world where closed minded bigots like you still exist. That alone proves they have bigger balls than you.