American Masculinity:Up to Scratch
Freedom. Liberty. Justice for all. Together we stand and divided we fall. If you live in America, there's no doubt that you have heard these things countless times, maybe even to the point that you've gotten tired of it. It wouldn't be all that surprising given the current cultural and political climate, and the events that have transpired over the last 15 months or so. Still, yesterday was the fourth of July and millions of Americans all joined in to celebrate with barbeques, booze, and bombs. Well, fireworks, anyway. Celebrating the independence of this nation from tyranny and taxation without representation almost as if nothing has changed. I can't blame folks, though. After a year of lockdowns and venue cancellations, finally being able to cut loose and have a good time would be irresistible to almost anyone. Besides, who doesn't enjoy blowing stuff up?
And who doesn't love the hundreds of patriotic displays on social media celebrating such a holiday? Images of our founding fathers holding machine guns and mowing down the redcoats are always cool to see.
The good ol' U.S. of A.
I've never lived outside of the country so my view should be biased in stating that it's the greatest country on earth, but that's not the case. Outside of the title, it's been difficult to view the U.S. as anything but a business for quite some time, and there's not a single business out there that runs like a democracy. (Yes, I know. The U.S. is a constitutional republic.) But that doesn't help the case either.
When I set out to write Empire Divided, I was writing it from a place of righteous indignation that I still hold to this day. Going back to the time of the American Revolution, the number of people in this country was much smaller than it is today. With that in mind, it was much easier to get the majority of them united behind a single cause.
We don't have that luxury today. They always said that New York was the big "melting pot", but that title belongs to America itself. People from all over the world with various beliefs and cultures are all welcome right here on this piece of dirt. But those beliefs, more often than not conflict with the beliefs of almost everyone else.
These groups of people, all united with one another in the sharing of one ideology or another, have become modern-day tribes with their own respective codes of acceptable behavior. It's a beautiful thing. To see people able to cross the previous lines of ethnicity and religion and join in with each other because of a higher shared belief is beautiful. But it only goes so far.
Past a certain point, these people cannot coexist without eventually coming to conflict with one another. But that's okay too. That's how this nation came to be in the first place. One group of people decided that they weren't going to coexist or be under the thumb of another and they rebelled. That's the one thing that almost every American has in common with each other. That spirit of revolution prevents them from bowing to just anyone.
Independence Day celebrates a group of men who took it upon themselves to tell a king that they were not going to be ruled over, and that they were going to take his land from him while they were at it.
I don't care who you are, that's pretty badass.
They had their "us" that was going to fight against "them", and Americans today are no different. The left has the right, the right has the left, this group has that group, and so on. Like I said, modern-day tribes. Only these happen to be ideologically based rather than some biological or geographical commonality.
Still, the spirit of "Fuck you, make me" is still alive and well, and that's something worth celebrating. The "I'd rather die than kneel to someone like you" attitude is what makes Americans Americans.
The one thing that I'm most concerned about, however, are the men who stand up tall and proudly state their defiance to "the man." Not that they're doing it, but that they're capable of doing it to begin with, that they're up to scratch.
That phrase, up to scratch comes from dogfighting. Organizers would draw lines on the ground called scratch lines, and each dog would be placed on it before the fight began. Once they were released, the dogs would fight for a certain amount of time and then get pulled back by their owners until the next round.
This would go on, over and over, until one of the dogs refused to go back to the scratch line. Once that happened, the fight was over and the victor declared.
The founding fathers were up to scratch and they proved their gameness by going into the fight until it was over. They embodied the warrior archetype and put their money where their mouth was, whereas today, we have a lot of men who talk a big talk, but never take it much further than that.
The question is whether or not that comes from a calculated decision or is nothing more than a product of cowardice. In a resource-abundant society, like we have today, it's hard to find a reason for your average man to need to become the warrior.
They get soft and complacent with their ordinary lives and, like most civilized societies, delegate the warrior stuff to the ones that signed up for it. The reality is that the ability to become a warrior when needed is a core tenet of masculinity. The duty of a man is to not only provide for his tribe but protect it as well.
I would like to say that most men would be able to rise to the occasion, but I can't if I'm being truly honest with myself.
As you come down from the reverie-induced high of the 4th of July celebrations, take some time to reflect on the measure of those men that made yesterday possible. These men were just like you and I and had everything to lose if things didn't turn out the way they did, but that didn't matter.
They knew what their duty was to those they cared for and they did something about it. I have no doubt that they were scared, in fact, I hope they were because that makes the stories of their action so much better and more inspiring.
Reflect on those men and measure yourself against them. Ask yourself if you are capable of laying it all on the line as they did. Be honest, because the answer is important to this next part. If you find yourself coming up short as most men will, then it's time that you do something about it.
It's time that you were no longer a victim or a bystander. You don't have to overthrow the government, but you do have to be able to stand up and fight if trouble comes to your perimeter.
Hit the gym. Clean up your diet. Start taking a more active role in the lives of those you care about. Lead them by your example. Don't delegate your duties to the state that, make no mistake, only acts in its own best interest.
Make sure that you're up to scratch.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. If you would like to dive deeper into the modern crisis of masculinity and what can be done to avert it, you can click here and head over to Amazon to grab my books Empire Divided: A Modern Man's Path Back to His Tribe, and The Perimeter which is a follow up to Empire Divided.
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