Friday, December 07, 2007
We live in a world of metaphoric innuendo...Phrases stitched together, haphazardly or craftily, arranged in order to invoke pictures in the mind far richer in detail than what the mere words by themselves might convey.
And we also live in a world of objective standards, benchmarks that are shared universally whether they are admired, ignored or reviled.
One of these areas of objectivity is what makes a man.
Whether one subscribes wholeheartedly to a Hemingwayesque or Jack Londonish vision of resolute hypermasculinity, or rejects that somewhat hirsute characterisation in favor of a less two-fisted expression, we all have a personal or vicarious share in the knowledge base that enables a comparison when an individual asserts a claim to authority in such matters.
For myself, I hearken to such examples as my maternal grandfather, a self-made individual who escaped the coal fields and built up his own small business after the Depression, a man who hunted (in the days before high viz vests with two-way radios and motorhomes with beer fridges and portable DVD players) not for the sole indulgence of sport, but to ensure food for his family on long, cold winter nights, and having pride in discharging that responsibility to the utmost.
He and his comrades would sojourn, alone together, on prairie or mountain glade in fair clime or foul searching for what the bounty of Nature might provide...and take pains to insure that everyone in their party would return safely to their homes at the end of that time.
For me, albeit familiarized with firearms, I was never a hunter.
I grew up in a world of commercialized plenty, with red-tinted steaks in fluorescent-lit freezers and 83 different kinds of breakfast cereal stocked on interminable shelves that were open 24 hours a day.
Nevertheless, although I never heard the call of the hunt, I grew to respect those who took only what they needed from the land and who safeguarded a healthy remainder for those who might come after, as a result of men like my grandfather.
My grandfather also taught me the value of truth, and the responsibility of the individual to be truthful to his peers in one's dealings with the world.
This was not a place where relative morality and 'little white lies' could flourish, but a zone where a man's word was all he could truly be judged by.
To tell the truth, however bad or good the truth might make one appear, marked one as an individual worthy of respect.
And thus, I don't need someone who participates regularly in executive canned hunts for the 'sport' of killing, and who lies to a camera without missing a beat telling me about who swings the biggest stick.
I know who did.