KEN’S CORNER: What It Means To Be A Man…
Commentary by: TLB Contributing Writer: Ken LaRive
For a short time in my early days I thought I wanted to be a submariner. How romantic. How macho! I went to a school in Connecticut and was tested to see where I could fit in. There was a voice talking to me from the start, (you know that little voice I’m talking about), but I wouldn’t listen. I just wanted to be like Steve McQueen. When, for instance, I was told to say yes every time I heard a beep through the headphones, I noticed that there was a rhythm to the beeps as they got higher and higher. When I could no longer hear them I kept saying yes until I noticed the man behind the window becoming quite excited and impressed saying that I should be in Sonar. It was just a little lie, but seemed like something Steve would do…
Our training exercises on board were mostly horrible experiences. Again, I realized from the start that I didn’t much like men, especially in close quarters. I slept on a vinyl mattress under a torpedo, sweating on one side and freezing on the other. There was the constant stale smell of engine oil, fried food, testosterone, and sweat. I missed a hot bath, and I stunk. One of my jobs during sea exercises, from Key West to Canada, was being on the team of four “Tower” men. I had to wear red-tinted goggles constantly day and night, so that I would always have night vision. We locked ourselves into the top watertight compartment and plugged in our earphones to let us know when to open the hatch. We would then scurry out under the stars. Each had a side to scan with our field glasses, looking to the horizon for ships, or anything we may run into, as sonar is useless right above. We realized that the reason we were locked in was that if we ran under another ship we would still hold our watertight integrity. Too bad for us…
I soon began to realized that what was indicated to me by the “Uncle Sam” posters, and the fictitious notions of an enlistment officer, had about as much validity as my hearing test. Daaa! I listened to the voice and “non-volled’ after just four months, which means I indicated to the CO that I didn’t particularly like the service. That afternoon I was landing in New Orleans. Submarine Service is entirely voluntary, so they say. They don’t mention the brain washing of a nineteen-year-old boy to risk his life to prove something as nebulous as manhood…
I spent the next two years off the coast of Viet Nam on the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. If I’m expected to load bombs to kill someone, shouldn’t I at least have a reason set in my mind? Shouldn’t there be some sort of process going on where I could justify 24-hour flight operations lighting up the horizon with napalm and incendiary? That voice was talking to me all that time, but I didn’t listen.
Everyone is looking for answers in this life, and for me I think the biggest one men grapple with is: “What does it mean to be a man?” I don’t see a clear answer for everyone. Man, I think, should mean male. It has no meaning other then our species, just as an ape is a monkey. Using the word, “Mankind”, however, depicts both male and female together, as a unit. When one adds a separate adjective to it, suddenly we add a value. A combination like a “good man” surely seems like a worthwhile aspiration. Or the word “responsible” could also become a great ambitious endeavor. A word like “rich” or “poor” doesn’t depict a value however, and to think that every man wants to be a good and responsible man is not always certain, or logical. There are men who revel in being bad men, and there are some men who aspire to be rich men, and will do any dastard deed to make it. Poor in spirit, but monetarily rich. But just like all rich men are not bad, so too are all poor men not good. Rich can mean a goodness, like “rich in spirit”, and thus, he is a “rich man”.
However, I don’t think that everything we do should always be measured because it has a value for the good of all. So long as you are not hurting anyone or stopping them from living the kind of life they want, it should be okay. I see nothing wrong with a bit of selfishness. What is wrong with placing yourself first at times?
I saw a man who tried to stop a fight in a Philippine bar back in 1970. He saw an innocent man being intimidated and threatened by several drunken service men and thought he could persuade them to take a peaceful road. They used him to clean the bar until the shore patrol came in and arrested the whole bunch, including the Good Samaritan. He stood on a principle, and that principle fell flat at his feet. Should he have tried? Yes! He stood for something. He made a decision on what he thought was right and went for it. He created a conscious conviction based on what he thought was just and honest, and risked being hurt to do it. He took action, and even though he got more then he bargained for, he did it out of righteousness. I wish I had understood that better then. I would have liked that man, and might have tried to help him. I think Steve would have too.
Even if there is nothing in the universe that balances good and evil. If there is no God who knows the difference between right and wrong. Even if there is nothing after death but a cold grave and darkness! Wouldn’t it be better to have lived a good and honest life? A righteous and joyful life?
Life is not always fair, or entirely for the common good, but that doesn’t mean that we all shouldn’t strive to be good. We have a tendency to sometimes take the easy road, not to stir the pot, and accept things we know in our hearts are wrong. We say that it’s okay because everyone is doing it. We are afraid to stand up for a conviction because we fear we’ll be ostracized, or ridiculed. It’s easy to sit on our hands, but not nearly as much fun!
Being a man has nothing to do with the muscle in your arms, how much you can drink, the size of your reproductive organs, or the amount of money you make. It is the goodness in your heart, the empathy for your fellow men, and the responsibility you take as your own. It is that gentle spirit that holds you on course, and the love you have to share.
This short life has meaning. It takes on the meaning we assign to it. It is a reflection of who we are. What we are is what we focus on, and I tell you that the self worth of being a man comes from doing what that little voice inside tells you to do. Listen to it. It’s the voice of God.
Read more from KEN’S CORNER
From the Author, Ken La Rive – We in the Liberty movement have been fighting to take back this country for less than a decade, peacefully and with the love of God and country in our hearts. Our banner has been trampled on and displaced by a multitude of distractions, further eroding our nation and the cause for Liberty. And so, as we are pulled by forces we cannot fathom, powerful entities with unlimited resources stolen from our future, unaccountable trillions printed out of thin air and put on our backs as debt, we must formulate the most pitiful of all questions any patriot might ask in the final hour: Are we going to fight for our master’s tyranny, or are we going to demand the return of our civil liberties and Constitution? Are we going to choose The Banner of Liberty, or the shackles of voluntary servitude? Will it be a war for corporate profit, or a war to regain our ability to self govern, as the blood and toil of our forefathers presented to us, their children, as a gift? I fear that decision is emanate. I fear that any decision will be a hard one, but my greatest fear of all is that the decision has already been made for us.
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You are so right, Ken. Thank you!