Boys Don’t Cry?
April 13, 2015 1 Comment
This is my post from this morning at the Watchtower. As you know, I rarely crosspost between the sites, the mission is different, as is the readership. But this one, I think, transcends the differences, and has lessons for us on both sites. You’ll find a link in the post to an article of Jessica’s which I urge you to follow, as I do with the links she provided.
I think you will find here, a measure of what we, as a society lose, when we perceive that our forebears were different and perhaps cold. They were not, they just had different priorities, and I think more valid ones.
On the post entitled The War of Ideas (6) Thoughtful Traditionalism, Nicholas commented that
This also raises an issue about the health of the church and society in general, which is the difference in outlook between the generations which needs to be healthily discussed with perhaps confession on both sides. “Boys don’t cry” is a Victorian fallacy that people my age have rejected – but it grieves us to be at variance with our fathers. Who’s advocating for our heartache?
To which I replied with this
Be careful, Nick. Yes, we were taught that but there was a lot more to it than “Boys don’t cry’. What it really was, was a lesson in self discipline. What it really said was, “Boys (actually, men) don’t cry-in public because they have work to do.” They felt things just as you do.
In my family, you rarely get more than a handshake-the first time I ever hugged my brother in law was about 2 years ago at my sister’s funeral, and I’m in my sixties. I never thought he didn’t feel things, he’s buried one daughter, and his parents and all those things but, his duty was to keep the family going, and he did..
Kipling may be the best Victorian example we have, read his “My boy, Jack” or even better the video of it. He was no different from you (or I) he just did his duty first, and grieved later and privately. That is the Northern European ethos, and it always has been, It’s also why (in good measure) our society is less corrupt than others, we keep our eye on the ball.
My dad’s line was illustrative. when I’d get the normal bangs and bruises of an active little boy, and whine about it, dad would always comment, “I didn’t feel a thing”. Now, I don’t notice even when I spring a leak, if I’m doing something, there’s time for that later.
But the other example I use is that when I was about sixteen, we were painting a car, and the thinner splashed into my eye. Dad happened to look at me (I don’t remember that I said anything, but I couldn’t open my eye. Mom was watering the flower bed and dad yelled at her (and this is nearly the only time I heard him raise his voice) for her to bring the hose over. She was completely unaware and said effectively, “What?”
Dad’s answer for the only time I ever heard him say it was, “Bring that f***ing hose here!” I found out later that no one had heard him use that word since about 1935 but, it mattered right then.
One does what is necessary to accomplish the mission, that’s what it’s all about, it’s not about our feelings.
But let’s expand a bit on that. Nobody that I know of is advocating for anybody’s heartache, we all have that, and we have in all our generations. In fact, I’d guess that we have less cause for it than any generation before us, whichever generation we are a member of. But we’re always going have some. Essentially, that’s life.
There’s nothing particularly Victorian about it either. We tend to think so because that is the literature that we read. But if you read Beowulf, or the Icelandic Sagas, or indeed the Bible, you’ll find the same themes, it comes down to growing into manhood. It’s not easy, in fact, it’s very difficult, and how well a society does it, is one of the measures of that society’s viability.
The difference with the Victorians was that they openly talked about duty, more than most societies that came before them. A good example is this.
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
And the great thing about the Victorians was that they not only ‘talked the talk’ (very well), they ‘walked the walk’ as well. I mentioned this in my comment quoted above. Jessica introduced it to us and explained its background.
We’d do well, I think to quit denigrating them and attempt to live up to their example.