“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you…”
In my previous post, I explained that security is a dynamic property. By that I meant that although one can receive security from his parents and his upbringing, one must not simply seek security for its own sake — rather security provides a stable base from which to launch any worthwhile adventure. In addition, security is something a man gives to and spends on behalf of those under his headship.
As a way in, it was necessary to show how fear and insecurity inhibit men from realizing their greatest potential. When this happens, a man is over-valuing his security. I call that playing not to lose.
Students of American history will likely recall this quotation from America’s founding:
“Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”
Clearly Franklin understood — and wanted us to understand — that security and freedom are in tension, and that if a man clings too tightly to security he will wind up sacrificing his liberty. Slaves don’t have adventures.
What William Wallace Said
If you haven’t seen the movie Braveheart, you should. It tells the story of William Wallace — the 13th-century Scottish warrior who rallied his fellow countrymen to oppose the tyrannical king Edward and win independence for Scotland. The following well-known scene illustrates the tension between freedom and security so I encourage you to watch it here:
Wallace asks his outnumbered and fearful countrymen how they will use their freedom. Like him, I do not want to be haunted by regret.
Why Safe Spaces Are a Bad Deal
On many college and university campuses, students are demanding and administrations are providing safe spaces. The rules vary by school, but in the main these are places where, to quote the old folk song Home on the Range, “…seldom is heard a discouraging word…” Except in these days, the banishment of unpopular or disfavored ideas comes accompanied by a “Trigger warning.”
I remember how stressful the workload at college was. And of course, now I look back at how much free time I actually had. Nevertheless, for that time and my experience to that point is was stressful. However, can we agree that being shielded from every idea that might challenge, upset, or offend one is a recipe for sapping and not building resilience? And can we agree further that if you need a trigger warning, you are not secure? May I suggest you view this as a weakness that you can and must overcome. It will be worth the effort.
Just as resistance training builds muscle, wrestling with unfamiliar or even offensive ideas builds your moral, spiritual, and intellectual muscles.
It’s a big world — don’t skip leg day
If you’re going to function at the peak of your capabilities, you cannot hide out from ideas you don’t like. You must have enough groundedness, enough security in who you are and what you believe so that you have a stable platform from which to engage new ideas. And then you must engage them.
Like a lot of guys who got interested in training with weights, I spent most of my early years in the gym working “mirror” muscles — chest and arms. Squats hurt too much (because I tried to rush the process), so I didn’t do them. And all that caught up to me later when I had to undergo physical therapy because of the imbalance I had created through my laziness/pain avoidance/bad habits. Balance your physical, as well as your emotional and spiritual training, and you’ll be secure enough to know you can handle any idea that comes your way.
Besides, you may find that you’ve been wrong about something(s). Ask me how I know.
I told you so
No, not like that. Over the years I’ve been writing and publishing this blog, I have mentioned on more than one occasion the importance of three things:
Are you starting to see the connections? Initiation provides a pathway to manhood with defined waypoints. When you negotiate that pathway, you come to the end with the assurance that you have a date, a time, and a place where you became a man. I didn’t get this as a boy, but God provided what I needed along with a desire to communicate it to others. With that healing, I provided just such an initiation experience for my sons.*
Mentors are like the master craftsmen who teach their trade to their apprentices. They aren’t there to teach you the basics — but they are there to help you master the craft of your life. I met with my mentor yesterday morning, as I have been doing for years now. And I meet regularly with several different young men as their mentor.
And a biblical worldview gives you an unchanging reference point by which to measure the rightness of a belief system, a work of art, a cause, or a policy. All of this brings us back around to identity, stimulation, and security.
So how about you? In what ways are you building and spending Security? Add your comments below.
*If you’re interested in having me speak to your group about masculine initiation, I can provide more information on what I devised for my sons. (I’m a pretty good public speaker, too.) Contact me via email or post a comment and we’ll discuss.