By Miles Jaye
Men are warriors, champions and heroes. Men are scholars, explorers and inventors. Men are laborers, leaders and liberators. Men are sons, brothers, and fathers. Why then does the role of modern man appear so unclear? Men are villains, felons, and crooks. Men are swindlers, swine, and con artists. Men are criminals, gangsters, and hoodlums. These men are also sons, brothers, and fathers. What then determines the trajectory of a man?
What determines evil, traitorous, or treacherous versus, good, honorable, and loyal. What makes a man?
Men have played many roles throughout the history of mankind so why does modern man find so perplexing his role in a civil society? In the previous essay games were referenced– children’s games, and adult games, where a proclivity to fair play or to cheating was questioned.
William Shakespeare played on the very same questions, as did Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates… as they explored the fault lines and fragility of a society. Great minds from Martin Luther to Martin Luther King, Jr. explored what makes great men and the root causes of the collapse of kingdoms and nations.
Man’s inexplicable love for and fascination with sports– sportsmen, and sporting events, dating back to gladiators and the early Olympic games, to modern team sports, defines his obsession with human physical contact and competition. Team or mano a mano, man subscribes to preset rules of competition. Typically, as spectators, men want to see a fair fight.
Early cave drawings suggest that wrestling was among the first organized competitions or sports. We know that modern Greco-Roman or Japanese Sumo wrestling are highly formalized. Competition is monitored and refereed for adherence to centuries old rules of engagement. These games, as with most martial arts, carry with them tradition, honor and dignity that must be observed by the practitioner.
The sport of boxing is thought to predate historical records and, like wrestling, is documented on the walls of cave dwellings. India is credited with the advent of the game of chess, a sophisticated mental and psychological challenge of wits, tactics and strategy, played on a 64 square board (8 rows down and 8 columns across) simulating a battlefield, roughly 1500 years ago. Those who compete at the highest levels of either of these games are heroic in the eyes of not only their fans, but also their nations.
Competition is an integral component of the human experience, and it is rules that render a sport viable and sustainable. For politics, foreign and domestic policy and governing at large to be viable and sustainable, perhaps they too should be treated as games. Strict rules should apply, with a breach of the rules resulting in penalty, fine, or ejection from the game– with treason being the most egregious of violations, the breach and betrayal of trust, tradition, honor, and dignity, resulting in criminal charges and removal from society.
What determines the trajectory of a man remains unclear. However, when placed on the field or in a forum of competition, play seemingly becomes instinctive, intuitive, and innate. One needs never have shot a basketball; but if placed before a goal and given a ball, the natural tendency will be to shoot. Miss it or make it… his instincts switch on to play. Perhaps family, fatherhood, career, and life itself would be more viable to the average man, if given a clear set of rules and an even playing field on which to compete. He would rise to the occasion, work on his game, and strive to win. All fathers can be winners! With Fathers’ Day recently passed, that’s what’s on my mind!