Thursday, July 25, 2013

Man: An ambassador of two worlds

Men are just as much as mystery to women as women are to men. With masculinity having been on the decline in Western Civilization over the last several decades, men are even becoming a mystery to themselves. Since the emergence of secularism, an accurate understanding of man as he really is has suffered quite a bit. Men are naturally more prone than women to commit crimes such as homicide, sexual deviancy and even suicide. But in the absence of grace his self-destructive tendencies are not only more probable but more intense. Porn addiction, marital infidelity, and a midlife crisis are just a few of the common challenges indicative of man’s restless soul. All of this comes from a tension or divide he has within himself; something that is unique to him alone.

The only time God said, “It is not good!” was prior to the creation of Eve in the book of Genesis. It was then that Adam was without a virtuous woman standing beside him. But it “really wasn’t good” when Adam had disobeyed God’s command to not eat the fruit from the middle of the garden. As a result, he was deprived of the perfect communion he once enjoyed with God. The punishment of being banished from the Garden of Eden not only affected Adam profoundly, but it affected all of his male descendants.

To start with, a man was created to symbolize something that he is not; and that something is the transcendence of God...that God is infinite, beyond us or out there! Rarely is he content with his surroundings. As such, he seeks to venture beyond the horizon. The discovery of the New World, the first flight across the Atlantic ocean, and the landing on the moon- although dangerous enterprises -were envisioned and accomplished by men.

Whether it be the quest to conquer the world or the quest to save it, such ambitions are the making of man's spirit. His ambition to transcend space and time is not only a “guy thing,” but it reveals a strong underlying desire for heaven where there are no limitations. Unfortunately, however, in the absence of divine grace, this desire for transcendence can work against him. High crime rates, terrorism and dictatorships are often the products of a masculinity gone wrong. Hence, in the absence of grace and in the absence of a virtuous woman (mother or wife), a man’s self destruction is all the more hastened and guaranteed.

As the title of this post suggests, man is an ambassador of two worlds. There is a great divide running through his very being which separates two worlds from within. On the one hand, he is a husband and a father in one world- the world of his family. On the other hand, his identity is virtually inseparable from his work or his career. As previously indicated, divine grace and a virtuous woman are the two agents that reconcile these two worlds from him. Indeed, these are the two remedies that make a man whole.

As it pertains to the world outside, a man takes great pride in his work. After all, in a real sense, his work fulfills him and makes him whole. As Pope Leo XIII said, man possesses an innate desire to impress his personality upon the earth. The downside is that unemployment or underemployment can be a death-sentence to him. In Genesis, God gave the Adam the responsibility of naming the animals and cultivating the garden. But when Adam disobeyed the commandment not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, God punished him right where it hurts the most: his work! His work! As opposed to Eve, Adam was not punished in his person but rather it was the field in which he labored that received God’s curse; the curse of weeds and thorns which made his work that much more difficult. Because man's identity is so interwoven with his work, he will- in worst case scenarios -kill either himself or others over losing a job. But women, on the other hand, rarely do this.

In a nutshell, a man can be the best husband or father but if he is unfulfilled in his career he can feel like half a man. Then again, a man can be successful and a high achiever in his career but if he is an unfaithful husband or an absentee father he will have failed as a person. No doubt, his deathbed will be riddled with regrets at having failed the most important duty in his life.

It just so happens that maintaining the delicate balance of relationships and work is not a man's strong suit. As regards to relationships, he is apt to overlook a lot of things. Things such as birthdays, anniversaries or saying “I love you” to his wife may be counted as trivial to a man. It usually takes a virtuous wife or mother to remind him that these "little things" make life sweeter and worth living. Indeed, he needs to be constantly reminded that there is more to life than his work, that he has a family which needs attending to.

As stated, the two agents that brings these two- sometimes opposing -worlds together is God (through a strong spiritual life) and a virtuous woman in a loving relationship. But when all is said and done, it is the man himself who has to decide to reconcile these two worlds within; to die to himself so that divine grace can make him whole.