I'm like most young American men. I secretly have dreams of being a hero. I've read the Iliad, marveled at the greatness of Achilles and Hector, and read about Hannibal, Scipio, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Robin Hood, William Wallace, King Arthur, George Washington, General Patton, that Vasily guy from "Enemy at the Gates" and so on. You know, people who were not only great warriors, but also remarkable and oftentimes visionary people. I've always paid special attention to them because I wish I could be like them.
Granted, I'm aware that wanting to be a hero often nullifies you from the running. But what I want to address is the plight me and those of my generation have grown up in.
It's the whole Fight Club thing. As men, what do we have that we can aspire to be in this day and age? What few ways are we able to make a name for ourselves and still be respected, rich, and powerful? How do we retain that which makes us men, makes us proud to be called men in light of the many great men before us in mankind?
My Internet connection is down at the moment and I can't find a page I kept, but basically it listed the philosopher Kant's breakdown of elements of humanity. The elements I remember were things like religion, myth, writing, music, and art. These elements combined were supposed to be what made humans human, and what gave humans expression, creativity, and enlightenment.
But when I grew up, let's do a rundown of what my generation aspired to be. The great American dream, to become President of the United States, was even back then a laughable thing to think about. What? Be Reagan, a bumbling, narcoleptic crazy man? Be Carter? Ford? Nixon? Be a politician like Gary Hart? Oh, and you couldn't follow in the long line of military heroes and leaders throughout history. War had a deeply negative resentment after Vietnam. The Iran Contra Affair and Nicaragua and everything else certainly didn't help. In the 80's, you grew up thinking of the military as insane freaks who killed innocent people for no reason.
So then there were less macho things, like being an artist or writer. Oops! Wait! No money in that. You'll be a starving artist, living at home and begging for change! And who the hell cares about art or books anyway? There's no future in being an author or artist, and there's no prestige unless you're one of the very best.
Fuck religion. I mean, evolution blows Christianity out of the water. God is a tool for weak minds, for sheep. There is no god. God is dead. God wouldn't subject the world to such miseries. You mean you're becoming a priest? Don't you have to be, like, celibate? No sexo es no frio! Priests are square, and they're all evangelists anyway.
Scientists and lawyers make the big bucks. You should become one of those. It's the in thing to become one. Sure, you'll have to devote most of your young life to study, but once you get out, you'll be raking it in. And so what if you have to lie as a lawyer. Think of the house, the Ferrari, the big-breasted hot blonde babe giving you a blowjob with her friend Chastity while you negotiate a settlement on the phone while overlooking the NYC skyline!
Oh, you don't WANT to be a scientist or lawyer or doctor? Get out of my house. I MEAN it. You think that I paid that money for you to go to school so you could learn how to fingerpaint? You're a disgrace.
Dude, I don't know what else to do. I don't know what I want to do. I'm gonna play a guitar in the garage so one day I can become a rock star and snort coke off Chastity's breasts ten years before she runs off with that lawyer.
Or shit, I can play ball and get into the NBA. I play basketball every day, and I love it, and it makes millions. I'll go do that. But wait, I didn't make it into college. Time to sell dope on the streets.
Nah, I'm way too good-looking and charismatic for that. I'm gonna go to Hollywood and spend all my time slumming and sending in face shots to audition calls and hope I get in the next big film. Oh wait, I didn't make it. Now I AM Chastity. After that sex change I got because I didn't feel like a man, but a woman trapped inside a man's body.
See what I mean? Every profession has been turned in one way or another into either a meaningless job that pays well, or a meaningful job that doesn't. Nothing is respected by youth anymore except celebrities, athletes, and musicians. Because those people are people who young kids can identify with, people who young kids realistically think they have a chance of becoming, and not being disrespected for it.
As for me, well, I'd love to make my living until I retire by trading the market. It touches upon every aspect of society, for better or for worse, and moves as the world moves. It also can pay extremely well. Some say traders contribute nothing to the world. I say traders are in a rare position of being independently required to be knowledgeable about the world. It is a naturally educational profession.
Still, I do have dreams of being a heroic male. I dream of being an extremely well-trained Army Ranger, tracking down Osama bin Laden, tagging him in the leg with my handgun, and escorting him to a court of law. I dream of sitting in the bushes, sniping a known terrorist from 2000 yards away, and being rewarded when I return. I dream of writing the novel that changes the tide and creates a movement that is nothing but beneficial to the future. I dream of, as a firefighter, rescuing a family from a burning building. I dream of leading people who had no hope to victory. I dream of being so respected among my peers that military foes tremble at the sound of my name. I dream of brokering peace in a historically long war-ridden area. I dream of becoming a successful professor who teaches the next great peace maker in the annals of history. I dream of building a community from scratch and becoming known as the protector and wiseman of it.
I dream of lots of things. Hell, I dream of becoming a big music star who goes to TRL and trashes all the other bands. I have dreams, and other men my age have dreams too. But we do not have a feeling of destiny, or of heroes before us to give us motivation. Granted, I'm not giving that as an excuse for MY not doing it, but I think men my age as a whole would benefit greatly from having an Alexander the Great or Roosevelt or Shakespeare.
On top of it all, we men are given the prospect of finding a woman who won't ignore us on the first date, or file sexual harassment, and then marrying a suitable woman, the present-day jokes of being pussywhipped in the backs of our minds, and seeing our friends develop into such regardless of the warning, and seeing them watch the Man Show or football partly as a way of fighting back without pissing off the missus.
I'm not being a misogynist or macho. I, like all heterosexual men, love women and am helpless against their attraction. Marriage may come eventually, but it won't be with your usual woman, who lives to subjugate her husband. I'm only interested in intelligent women who, well, know what they have, and what they don't have. All I'm just saying what some influential writers have started saying, that males have lost their identity and are in need of something to help regain it. And I can't help but think it won't be a renewed sense of destiny and the re-emergence of heroes that help to bring it all back.
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