To be, or not to be
by Donald K. Sanders
There are a few things I’d like to say to the young men of the world. I’m not going to criticize or lecture, that’s not my intention. I simply want to give you a few words of admonishment. The world is moving at an ever-increasing rate in every direction. I’d like to say a few words that I wish someone had said to me when I was a young man in the hope that it will help you choose your way.
First things first. Try to be a good man. If you can do this, everything else will fall nicely into place for you. By the age of 18, you should be able to pick and choose who will be in your peer group. Seek out and join men from around the world who are not afraid of being friendly and fair at all times. Become one with the true men of distinction who recognize and respect the dignity of others, especially women and children.
If you consistently honor the worth of others, you will become a man worthy of honor. Never leave a man, woman, boy or girl standing out in the cold of injustice and insensitivity. Learn to seek the good in others as well as you seek the good in yourself. Do these simple things and you will become a light in the darkest of places. You will be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.
A few simple rules will help you see exactly what type of personality other men have, almost as soon as you meet them. A man that is loud and overpowering is a little man trying to be a big man. I call it “The Little Man Syndrome.” When I say this, I am not concerned with the physical size of a man — I’m talking about the size of the man on the inside, where it counts.
It’s easy to distinguish a good man from a not-so-good man if you observe them in difficult situations when they are under some stress. The way they behave under stress will give them away. You already know what a good man will do under stress, and a not-so-good man will make bad decisions or freak out, thinking only of himself. This behavior is called “acting out of his nature.”
Some men will “not be themselves” under the stress and strain of a demanding situation. So a man’s acting “out of character” is constantly overlooked and forgiven in spite of the other lives he wounds and wrecks. Others will say he is a “good man,” even though he can be counted on to make poor decisions when he’s under pressure. In reality, a good man will bring forth good things from the good treasure of his heart regardless of the situation.
It’s important that you have, and keep, faith. I’m not talking about the kind of faith you find in church, but faith in your fellow man. Faith that, in the long run, man will do the right thing. Faith is not rational, You cannot see it or feel it, yet often it is wise. It is faith that tells you real equality can be achieved and is worth striving for. Faith tells you that what is happening today between African Americans and Whites as well as between men and women and is not wrong. It is simply part of the process, the path by which we will move towards equality.
It will be a difficult path, full of seeming darkness and suffering, yet it is the right path. A good man will see this to be true. It’s important that you have the faith to trust the process, even as it seems to move you into the darkness, even as the last remaining light of political rationality or reasonable communication about race and gender seems to be dying. These things are necessary. Good men will know that the miracle of equality will come when you least expect it.
Good men can see that the Civil Rights and Feminism movements are at the cutting edge of nearly all major intellectual disciplines. If you don’t understand the struggle for civil rights and feminism it’s because you haven’t allowed yourself to think about it yet. They aren’t social movements that you might agree or disagree with. They are the key transformative movements in the history of our species. Without equality, we are nothing.
The train to your life is leaving the station. Know that things are never going be the same as they were in the past. There are profound changes ahead, some of which are already affecting your life, even if you don’t know it or care. It’s up to you, if you want to be a “Good Man” or not. I hope that these few words will help you reach that decision.