Thursday, July 14, 2011

Men Must Find The Way Back

I once stood before a group of thick-necked, mafioso-looking Bulgarian men with the task of inspiring them in their post-Soviet corporate careers. They looked sceptical. I didn't blame them for a lack of enthusiasm about becoming low-payed, foreign-managed cubicle-jockeys. One unibrow raised his hand. "Why are you wearing that diamond stud in your ear?" he demanded. I paused before answering.

"Because it makes me feel like a pirate, and I think every man deserves to feel like a pirate, don't you?" Grins broke out and big shoulders leaned forward as I continued. "I don't know whether this job will be your long-term career. I don't know whether you'll have a better life than you did when you waited for the next government directive. I don't know much about Bulgarian men at all, but I figure they're like all real men in that they'd rather die on their feet than live on their knees." The group's eyes glistened like a wolf pack and their open mouths nearly drooled over the rest of my speech. After the workday, we drank beer and slapped backs for hours.

Director Peter Weir knows the hearts of men. His latest film The Way Back is a grim grueling slog from Siberia to India that drags a little without the heros, villians, sex, violence, and magical endings Hollywood usually tacks onto real life. The movie isn't as gripping or soul-stirring as Master and Commander or Dead Poet's Society. Yet, it taps the same primal root. Whether leaving mommy for prep school, sailing unknown seas, or escaping a Gulag by trekking across Asia, men need to be free - like they need to breathe.

Many men have used their freedom and muscles to rape or assault instead of protect and serve. Some women have been so wounded they instinctively seek out gutless metrosexual men. Many of their daughters are so starved for the untamed that they get orgasms from vampires who might kiss or kill rather than the near-extinct species once capable of cherishing or abusing. Some spineless men have taken advantage of the situation to hurt women in less-physical ways. While their wife scurries around a sinking ship trying to catch fish in the bow, cook filets in the galley, and keep multiple kids from falling off the sides, such a man not only lacks the character to go aft and put a confident-yet-humble hand on the tiller, but flees below deck to play with his computer and the only joystick he truly knows how to use.

Men must find "the way back." Those who insist on being strong, free, and good are more intimidating than the declawed and defanged version, but men aren't designed to live in cages or their mommies' basements. They are wild creatures. Peter Weir's movies remind us that men will still be resisting whatever shackles others forge long after prep schools, unexplored oceans, and communist regimes fade from memory. It's what men do.

Despite a gender-neutral name, Pat Henry is remembered for a testosterone-laden utterance, "Is life so dear or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" Patrick wasn't just the prototypical American badass; he was the prototypical human male. May his tribe increase.


  1. Hi! My name is Tania Libertad Carreño Diaz I don´t understand completely your article but the photo in the dessert i liked, because I imagine a scene from the book the alchemist.

  2. lizeth bibiana hernadez velascoMarch 5, 2012 at 7:02 PM

    I like this photo because the place where you will find the man has a sad and lonely.... lizeth bibiana

  3. I like the picture of the man sitting in the desert because i see a man who is thinking of the wrong has done, the this reflecting

    Francisco Jesús Sánchez Santiago