As Bob Dylan once said, “The times they are a changin.” In this day and age, life is most certainly not the same as it had been in earlier times. A lot of people these days believe everything in life should be handed to them, and that to get something no work is required from them because they are already “entitled” to everything. It really is quite sad the way some people perceive this modern day life we live in, and that a lot of these civilians don’t give a shit about no one but themselves.
Don’t get me wrong; not everyone in the present time lives by these new perceived “ethos”, but there is enough of these soft tooth, liberal, sh*t bags out there lurking the streets for a “hand out” that it’s enough for a Veteran such as myself or people with the same beliefs as me to grit our teeth, clench our fists, and hold every mental feeling of disgust inside of us, and not just say “f*ck it” and jump off the grid.
The difference between being a man and a boy is simple. It all comes down to responsibilities you gain as you grow in life. It’s no different in the 21st Century then as it was long ago. It’s the actions you take in your life that define you as a person. If you think life is all about doing whatever you want whenever you want, you’re probably not living up to your responsibilities and you’re probably a piece of sh*t. If you’re trying to live your life to the fullest, however, caring for others more than yourself at times, and making responsible life choices, in my eyes you are man, and I respect you.
It’s always easiest to go back and look at myself when thinking about a question like this. I know I am a man. I could list “manly” things I’ve done in my life, such as serve my country, enroll in school to better myself for my family, or even seek professional help for my depression because I knew I couldn’t handle it on my own. However, none of these things really defines me as a man as when my wife and I had our first beautiful daughter in February of 2014. This is the exact moment I found out what becoming a man in this current day and age meant to me.
It’s not about what I did to really better myself or anyone else; the question was now, “What can I do to give my wife and new daughter the most in this world?” Life hasn’t been all sunny with rainbows. At times it has been dark. So dark where I thought about giving up, but then I remembered my oath I made to myself, and I just continued my mission.
Without the support of my family, a lot of stuff would have never fallen into place. Being there for your family and friends in times of need, or supporting your family and giving your precious children and spouse the most out of this world is what defines you as a man. Selfless service and sacrifice are these characteristic traits that define you to be a greater human in the modern era.
Every man has his flaws or weaknesses. If a man said he has no weaknesses, he would be caught in a lie. My deployment shot a lot of my weak traits out the door. For example, I learned to never fear death. I also learned that evil in the world is just a mess that needs some good superior fire power. My weakness is seeing my daughter cry because she is sick or hurting. My weakness is seeing my wife work so hard for our family and not get the time off she deserves. As a man, a lot of our weaknesses aren’t even self-inflicted. It’s what is going on around me that makes me weak and think to myself, “What can I do better?” “What can I do to help these people I love so much?” As long as you keep on trying to succeed in life, that’s really all you can do.
Continuing with my point, the 21st century man and men of long ago are really no different. I can say there were a lot more men back in the day then there is now. I blame this on kids just doing whatever the hell they want, with no disciplinary measures being taken anymore. I don’t care how anyone’s kids are brought up. If you want your child to continue the trend of “Liberal-I don’t give a f*ck about anyone but myself,” then go ahead. I’m going to continue to be me, and you can continue to be you. It’s the choices you make in your life, the responsibilities you have to your family, and the values you live by that will truly define you to be a man in this century.
Editor’s Note: In class this past week, we’ve been talking about what it means to be a man in the 21st century. Over the next week or so, I’ll be posting short essays written by the men in my class. This essay was written by Cody Makuski, a veteran who is studying forest management at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.