We wish to suggest, therefore, that manhood is more character based than performance-based or sex-based. Of course, striving for excellence in the workroom, boardroom and bedroom are part of manhood but not the core of it.
When you look to the things which you have done in the past to have caused pain to the women and children in your life, you may be able to identify critical aspects of character which may have been lacking in your life.
What are the areas in which those persons close to you perceived you to be "deficient" in spite of your financial provision or sexual prowess? A man who is neglectful, abusive or unfaithful will not be regarded as the "ideal" father or husband, despite the size of his bank account
In the same way, a highly qualified person who is capable of performing multiple tasks simultaneously and closing deals for his employers will not receive recognition as 'The Employee of the Year' - and may be summarily fired - if he is found to be an embezzler.
We as males need to instil in our lives those timeless character qualities of Respect, Dignity, Integrity, Responsibility, the Value of Human Life and a sincere relationship with God (without losing our ambition or other positive qualities).
'Character' is defined in The Nuts And Bolts of Character Education as "the culmination of habits, resulting from the ethical choices, behaviours, and attitudes an individual makes and is the 'moral excellence' an individual exhibits when no one is watching. It includes an individual’s desire to do one’s best, concern for others’ well-being, cognition of critical thinking and moral reasoning, and the development of interpersonal and emotional skills that allow individuals the capability to work effectively with each other in everyday situations."
In our Caribbean societies and globally, the absence of character is frequently identified as the root problem behind such social ills as domestic violence, substance abuse, tax evasion, theft, and some sex-based offences.
Our unhealthy emphasis on success without ethics and seeking out 'fifteen minutes of fame' regardless of the means or cost has led to a rapid decline in the fabric of our societies.
True and lasting success cannot be attained without good character. Efforts to do so frequently create stress, pain and disruption of relationships among families, classmates, co-workers, and community members.
2017 shall be remembered as a year in which several male media, movie and political icons fell from grace due to multiple revelations of sexual impropriety, sexual violence and domestic violence. Jobs and endorsements were lost and lawsuits and criminal charges were filed against them essentially for their alleged lack of character. Despite their apparent financial wealth and worldwide acclaim for their talent and political influence, the message was loud and clear that "Character matters".
|Key Character Qualities
At this point, we would like to identify some key character qualities to which all men and boys may aspire. A comprehensive Character Qualities list with explanations can be found here. Install our True Masculinity app (see our Resources page for the Google Play link) for downloadable and printable character quality lists.
Attentiveness - giving one's full attention to another person; this demonstrates that he or she is worthy of your time.
Availability - ensuring that those who are important to me are able to access me by placing them in priority to my schedule.
Compassion - providing that which is necessary to promote the healing of another person.
Dependability - keeping my word and not letting people down, regardless of the personal sacrifice which I may incur.
Discretion - using wisdom in what I say and do and how I do what is required of me so as to avoid undesirable consequences.
Endurance - not giving up.
Forgiveness - being willing to forgive those who hurt or offend me rather than seek revenge.
Gentleness - this not weakness but meekness; a willingness to accept limitations and ailments without taking out our aggravation on others.
Goodness - inner qualities of virtue, excellence of character, morality and attitude.
Gratefulness - not taking people and what they do for me for granted.
Humility - not being puffed up with pride.
Joy - not prone to being sullen or unpleasant; willing to rejoice despite the circumstances.
Kindness - demonstrating a pleasant disposition and a genuine concern for others.
Love - choosing to show love rather than hatred towards others.
Loyalty - being faithful to those to whom I owe devotion.
Obedience - submission to those in authority over me.
Patience - not being hasty with others.
Peace - showing calmness and confidence in all situations.
Self-control - being able and willing to exercise restraint over one's own emotions, words and actions.
|Character Can Be Cultivated
Men and boys who were deprived of an upbringing which inculcated good character in them need not despair because it is possible, with dedication and humility, to cultivate good character.
Introspection is a prerequisite. When we look within ourselves and acknowledge what we lack, we are on the way to taking the first step to humbly seek out the resources and mentors who may assist us to grow and become our best selves as men.
Here is a link to an online resource which lists 49 proven Character qualities with explanations for each. These Character First qualities have been successfully applied to train persons in character development in corporate, educational, sporting, military and other settings.
Those of us, for example, who had male role models who were hard workers yet domestic abusers may need to develop the ability to filter the good examples they gave us from those examples which were unhealthy. In that way, we may honour those men for the benefits they brought into our lives while nobly refusing to adopt those qualities which brought hurt to us and our family circle.
We MUST consciously acknowledge the error of those negative behaviours from our fathers, uncles or other the male exemplars. Making excuses for them is not an option. Condoning the behaviour as a means to honour them is not an option. Good character means we identify 'Right' as 'right' and 'Wrong' as 'wrong', regardless of who it is that demonstrates the behaviour.
We must also do the same whenever we associate with men and boys today, whether in the home, workplace, sports club or community. All of their current attitudes and behaviours which we identify as unhealthy or based on stereotypes of false masculinity must be challenged, albeit respectfully and responsibly.
To sit idly by, saying or doing nothing is to be an unwitting accessory to their acts and words of abuse, violation, exploitation and molestation. True masculinity takes a stand for what is right!