The search for the manly heart requires courage, love and pride. We have lost sight of true manliness and need to recover our understanding of what a man should be. Not a macho freak, nor a spineless wimp who lets others wear the trousers, not a youth on a wilding, nor a father who fails to discipline his children. For too long, we have been using the incorrect models for maleness. This is the premise of The Code of Man, a comprehensible and scholarly textbook for manhood.
Waller R. Newell, a professor of political science and philosophy, examines manliness from five important promontories: love, courage, pride, family and country. Taking them in reverse order, Newell draws heavily on the writing of Theodore Roosevelt (John McCain's personal hero) in discussing true patriotism. TR held that a man's religion must be practical, must reflect in action his spiritual beliefs, and, similarly, "it is character that counts in a nation as in a man." Patriotism is not the province of the political phrasemakers; it is evidence of our national character, and a strong country will produce capable men."
TR, noted in history as the man who led the charge up San Juan Hill, confessed that his own impulses "incline me to amicable domesticity." It is morally correct to fight when the protection of the family is at issue. Newell contends that "father's authority" is not dictatorial, and that young men need the counsel of a father willing, if need be, to discipline, and to rule by example. We secretly long for the lost Eden of secure family ties, and if we are honest, confess "queasiness" at the ultimate and obvious consequences of divorce and other forms of family dysfunction. Raising children together with his chosen mate is one of the highest callings a man can undertake, bringing into play all the other virtues in Newell's pantheon.
In depicting the positive pride that a man must be unafraid to display, Newell refers to Churchill's praise of T. E. Lawrence: not just his prowess and daring, but "his immense quiet charm, his air of effortless command, the modesty that came not from humility but because he would not lower himself to boast or plead." Harking back to the classic Greek ideal of civic pride, we understand that the ambitions of the young man must be re-channeled toward the common good and the pursuit of knowledge. "Pride must always be guided by wisdom."
Courage is not, of course, the brazenness to discharge a weapon on a whim or the guts necessary to attack an innocent. Like the other building blocks of successful manliness, courage springs from a balanced vision and a willingness to do what must be done. Combat is a test of courage, not a proof of it. Bravery will not be found in extremes of pacifism or extremes of warmongering. In Newell's words, "the noblest form of courage is the struggle to defend and extend justice and to overcome our own baser instincts."
And what of love? "Love perfects." The Art of Courtly Love, a classic work of chivalry, proclaims that a man who lusts after every woman he sees is like " shameless dog." Think about it, gentlemen. The same work declares: "Love is a certain inborn suffering derived from the sight of and excessive meditation upon the beauty of the opposite sex...the man in love becomes accustomed to performing many services gracefully for everyone." In loving, which implies wanting to be loved, a man can perfect himself by becoming loveable.
This erudite look at what a man can be, draws on wide and well chosen sources, from Jane Austen to Toqueville, from the Greek classics to The Sopranos. A good read for either gender and a great gift for any thoughtful young man of your acquaintance.