Please Pardon my White Knighting. An open letter to Women

To all women out there,

We are sorry for any instance, be it in my actions or in my writings, that you might have felt we minimized your capabilities or made you feel inferior. That has never and will never be our intention. We can only sympathize with what you must be going through in these last few days. 

We might promote and believe in Gender equality but we know full well that the world you have to deal with has a different set of threats than the world we have to deal with as men.  We remember the constant terror people felt after Columbine, where people would live in constant fear of any guy walking around in a trench coat. We remember the constant paranoia many felt  after 911. And now we can only imagine how you all must feel after the USCB shooting. We know you that not all men are like that, but we also know that suddenly some men’s online threats, those rape jokes, and that creepy gaze take on a new level of horror.  And we know that some men will take advantage of it, feeling empowered by it.

Some men might use chivalry as a way to minimize you, but some do so to stand up to the men who threaten you. It’s not about minimizing you, saving you, being a hero, or even about impressing you. It’s because we understand that you shouldn’t have to deal with this. It’s about stopping the men who give all of us a bad name. It’s about being just, being righteous and simply being human. It's about understanding how no person should live in fear.

We are the stranger who stepped in when some guy tried to take advantage of you.

We are the friend who walked you home, or asks you to text to know you got home safe.

We are the boyfriend who stresses when you have a Girls night, knowing everything that might happen.

We are the dad who judges every boys you go out with, and will try to hold his tongue about the quality of guys you  pick.

We know sometimes in our misguided intentions we might step past our boundaries, and you have every right to call us out on it. This actually opens up a real conversation about what you as women have to deal with. But we are also aware just how bad things are, but some of us might not know how to express it.

But know that you don’t fight alone. Some of us will stand up. some of us will call out the less noble men. And some of us are more than willing to stand right there besides you in your battles. We know that you have done the same, stood by our side in our own battles. And for that we are ever grateful.



Being a Man is not a “Game.” Creating a counter culture to save Men from Men

A few weeks ago I was asked about the possibility of doing a series of chats, both Online and on Site, to young men, middle and High School, about what it means to be a Gentleman in this modern world. Both, Raising GreatMen and the National Council for Men and Boys, felt that most boys lacked an understanding of the importance of what it meant to be a Gentleman.

I thought it was a great idea, thinking how anything I could do to help boys become men would be good, especially considering all the misunderstanding of what it meant. 

As the horrible events at UCSB, and reading how the shooter considered himself the “Supreme Gentleman”, a sense of disgust came over me. As I saw how some men reacted, accusing feminists of taking advantage of the tragedy, I was even appalled. I saw how a lack of accountability, a lack of Nobility in Actions, was evident in today’s Men. And when I thought it couldn’t get worst, the PUA (Pick Up Artist) Community voiced their opinion. “Give men sex or more tragedies will happen.” “If Rodgers would have learned from us, he would have learned The Game and gotten laid.”  At that point I was just furious. 

Gentlemen, being a man is not a Game! Stop treating it as such. Your stupidity is poisoning our boys and killing our teens.

What I thought would be just an opportunity to teach boys to become men, had now become a way to create a counter culture for all the BULLSHIT that boys are told,  and teach them to recognize and confront this Bullshit whenever they see it. We need to create warriors against Petty Men, we need to teach them a better path, a noble path.

For that reason, for the next few weeks, I will focus on the foundations and the importance of being a man. Before we can discuss our relationships with women, we should strengthen our relationship with ourselves and with society in general.


The Skirt Manhood and the Lemon Man.

I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
The greatest challenge when trying to change into a better person is the time you spend looking at the introspective mirror, critically reviewing who you are. Sometime you’ll be exposed to the greatness of Man, grow proud of what you are, and we all get to give each other hi-fives and go grab a beer. Other times you won’t like what you see, realizing just how broken some things are and how much work you have to put into fixing them. Or you could just rationalize the faults and find excuses for them, blame everyone else, and we all get to give each other hi-fives and go grab a beer.

This mentality has become the counter argument against becoming a better man. These men will blame feminism, women, and society in general for the failings and sufferings of all men. At this point they have no problem with grouping people and expecting accountability from each individual within the group. That mentality ends when you call them out to hold each other accountable for the actions of men. At that moment they become an individual, only taking responsibility for their own actions. They will individualize the responsibility but socialize the blame. Sound familiar?

This is the same mentality that led to “Privatizing profits and socializing losses.” Companies had no problem thinking only of their own profit and gain when things were going good. They would justify this mentality because the gains were a direct result of their actions and strategies. Till the economy crashed, then it was everyone else’s fault. They would blame speculators, regulations, or whatever other faulty logic that came to mind. At that point the government had to come in and bail them out. This strategy has been given many names. Some called it Lemon Socialism, where it was social responsibility to deal with these “lemon” companies, or "skirt capitalism", where these companies were compared with little boys hiding behind their mothers' skirts after having done something wrong. 

Except this doesn’t work when you mother teaches you better. “If were man enough to do something, then be man enough to deal with the consequences.” I can still hear those words echoing in my head. That was the most important lessons my mother taught me about being an adult. This was usually brought up every time I did something stupid as a boy, yet wasn’t willing to accept the punishment. It means owning up to your mistakes, to others and more importantly to yourself. It’s a simple concept, yet one that is rarely used. People are too busy denying their mistakes, justifying their actions, or blaming someone else.

And in this case, we see men blaming anyone who is not a man, AKA women, for the problems men face. I am not saying that men don’t have problems or that in many cases these problems are dismissed. We do have problems within society, of equality, and gender specific. Yet if we are more than willing to group others and expect them to police themselves, we have to do the same. If we expect women and society to recognize where they have wronged us, we have to be willing to look into that same mirror and see what we have to change.

Unless you don’t want change, unless you expect everyone else to change for you. You can blame everyone else for who you are, but realize that you are not a result of your surroundings, but a result of your choices. At that moment, at least be honest enough to admit you don’t want better men to rise, but enough excuses to justify that you are a “Lemon” Man looking for “Skirt” Manhood.  At that point, move aside and let the rest of us striving for a better world to work.


The Mercy Rule. A gentleman’s dignity and a Warrior’s Honor.

There are only two forces in the world, the sword and the spirit. In the long run the sword will always be conquered by the spirit.
Napoleon Bonaparte
To learn how to fight, to test themselves, or to develop discipline are just some of the many reasons People train in combat. I have always believed that part of what defines a true Gentleman is having that martial training, be it from a Military Education or be it from a Martial Discipline. Life is a struggle, a constant combat, to become a better man. This Martial training gives you the tools necessary to stand face to face with life. 

Keep in mind that I am not talking about your fists when I mention Martial Training giving you proper tools. What it gives you is discipline, responsibility, and humility. That is why I cannot stand fighters who brag about their skill yet having no idea what it means to be a Warrior. They might be great at beating someone up, but they are little more than brawlers and petty sluggers.

So when I was sent this vid, I was inspired. Amateur MMA fighter Mike Pangtangco was recently in a match where the disparity between his skills and his opponent’s were incredibly obvious from the start. So before the fight really even got going, he just tapped out. When asked why, his reply was that of a true Gentleman/Warrior
He didn’t train against me and I didn’t train for him…The only thing I’m going to finish the fight is him to go in the hospital…and I would feel terrible.
Remember, gentlemen. You train for yourself and you fight to test yourself. This is not about glory, or ego, or vanity. Not stopping the fight, not giving up would have been the act of a man guided, not by honor or discipline, but by vanity and pride.


Suspended in Charity

Good actions give strength to ourselves and inspire good actions in others.


Man walks into a coffee shop, pays for two coffees, only pick one up and walks away. Sounds like the set up for a joke, but that’s my first experience with a Caffè Sospeso. I looked at the man and politely told him that he forgot to get his second coffee. He looked at me and with all the dignity in the world said that coffee is something he would never forget, and pointed at a board behind the cashier.

A story of charity and generosity has been floating around the internet for several years now. The Urban legend says that in a working-class Café in Naples, every time someone who experienced a streak of good look would walk in and order a Caffè Sospeso. He would pay for two coffees but would only take one. Any poor soul entering the Café afterwards could inquire if there was a Sospreso available. He then would be handed the prepaid coffee. 

How much truth is there to the original story? Some people started saying that this story was started by coffee shops trying to boost sales. I think this is a rather petty way of seeing the world. Those people should change their attitude and start looking at the world as it should be. Whether the story is true or not, or whether the intention of the coffee shop was based on greed, the moral of the story and the reality that resulted is completely different. 

Hardships can hit anyone, and if life has been good enough to you, why not share your fortune. The idea is to do good because life has been good to you, to share your good fortune. To many people think you should do good to get good in return. You should do good because life has been good. You should do good because you should do good, and for no other reason. Don’t do good expecting payment. That is greed, and not generosity.

The Caffè Sospeso became a symbol of social solidarity. Coffee shops all over the world placed boards that read "Give if you wish. Get if you want". There they would mark available Sospeso, so everyone would know the shop was not cheating people out of charity. The tradition, being real or just an internet fantasy, inspired real acts of charity. Coffee shops began offering discount prices on Sospeso. Others would match Sospreso sales with monetary donations to Charities.

These random acts of anonymous charity have spread. From restaurants where people pay what they can for a meal to a free metro card taped on the subway entrance, charity is something found if we look for it. What you think is a small act, can actually mean the world for someone in need.

If you want to support this movement, Suspended Coffee can tell you how. Learn more about the movement, and how to participate.


Hero or Villain, Noble Man or Petty Man. The choice is yours.

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.

Abraham Lincoln

As one who grew up in the generation of paperback comics teaching us what a noble man was, we could have these flights of fancy debating what it would really mean to be a Superhero or Supervillain. Our discussion over who is right, Magneto or Professor X, would reach epic proportions not seen within the chambers of the United Nations. And yet, I understand how these moral debates shaped my values more than actual school. 

Which brings us to our first question; if you had would you be the hero you tell yourself you are, sacrificing yourself for others? Or would you be the villain, only looking for your own interests? This dichotomy was best coined by Voltaire with the phrase “With great power, comes great responsibility”. Yes, it was Voltaire and not Uncle Ben or Stan Lee. Sorry to ruin your childhood.
Even before him, Plato debated this moral question with the story of the Ring of Gyges. The basic story is there’s this Ring that makes a person invisible (sound familiar), letting a person do what he wishes without fear of being caught of punished. Hence if all sanctions are removed, would one’s moral character evaporate? 

One side argues that morality is only a social construct, an illusion you create about your virtues. The other side argues that the ideals of justice are not a social construct. He concludes that the man who abused the power of the Ring of Gyges has in fact enslaved himself to his appetites. He continues explaining how the man who chose not to use it remains rationally in control of himself. 

Confucius, on the other side of the planet, brought up a similar argument between the Gentle Man (Junzi) and the Petty Man (Xiaoren). He summed up the argument with a simple concept. “A Gentle Man only understands righteousness. A Petty Man only understands personal profit.”

And with that we come to our second question; when will you realize you make this choice every day already? In Comic books, in TV, in movies, or even in books; the level of power of a hero or a villain only determines the level of the threat he will confront.  And even then, these challenges are even greater than their level. But the reality is this; power only defines what they can do. It is their moral character which determines what actions they choose. 

Look at yourself in the mirror. Who would you be with power? If they couldn’t find out it was you, if you could get away with it, would you take advantage of someone? If they never found out it was you, and nobody would applaud your actions, and no reward was offered, would you still do good? Would you be a Villain? Would you still be a Hero? Would you place your own interests first or would you sacrifice yourself for others?

A Hero is not the guy flying around with a cape, or beating up bad guys. A hero is the guy whose greatest battles nobody will find out, the guy who has no interest in the spotlight. A Villain is the guy who just looks out for himself. For him, Evil actions are just a means to gain something for his benefit.

The reality is we are heroes or villains already. We don’t need special powers or gadgets or masks to make these choices. We can’t even avoid making these choices every day. Every day you choose to be  noble or choose to be petty. So, seeing how you act and how you behave, I ask you again.

Are you a Hero or a Villain?