Perhaps Nietzsche Revisited? I read More From National Review’s David French on Masculinity and thought it would be best to ignore it. I have been brought to think about some of the more provocative stuff I have written in the past. The topic of gender roles is sensitive these days in the midst of political correctness and some very “dogmatic” thinking from people who think with their balls or ovaries instead of their minds and hearts. I am equally frustrated by the private American equivalent of the Sturmabteilung!
Really, we are as we are, both in physical and cultural terms. I can manhandle my boat into and out of the water, using mechanical means where possible. I have bigger muscles than my wife has, but I don’t go in for gym training or competitive sports. I suppose a little more effort with cycling, something I enjoy like the boat, would get a few pounds off my “spare tyres”! I shave each day. My hair is about a third of the way down my back, and I look after it reasonably well without going to excess or anything feminine. I have fired rifles and pistols when I was at school. We went twice a week in the summer term with our Lee Enfield .303 rifles to the Strensall Army firing ranges outside York, where we also had CCF (Combined Cadet Force) night exercises with blank ammunition and thunderflashes. We had “square bashing” (military drill) on Tuesday afternoons. I have always played boys’ games and enjoyed the outdoor life. I just hate competition and games of “winners and losers”.
My school in York, St Peter’s, was (and is) a school that is proud of its sporting traditions from Rugby to rowing, swimming to tennis and squash. I was in the Naval section of the CCF and we had a battleship grey motorboat called Callie on the River Ouse. We had a weekend at HMS Rosyth in Scotland, and that was great – with a trip out on a minesweeper from Glasgow and the Military Tattoo in Edinburgh. My rifle shooting was not bad. I could generally get in a nice tight group of ten at two hundred yards. One needed to keep the stock snugly into the shoulder, otherwise you would get nasty bruises from the Lee Enflield’s manly kick as the shots were fired. I tried a Browning 9mm pistol with a lot less success. All my bullets went into the sandbags. I suppose with some practice I could improve if I need to.
What won out with me? Really it was the Church and its musical culture, English church music and the organ. The sea continued to flow in my veins from my great grandfather and I was brought up to live and love the outdoor life: the Lakeland Fells and Lakes, Arnside and Grange over Sands, the North York Moors and the Dales. That was my childhood – miles of Saturday walks with the family and two tireless Golden Labradors. I only started sailing when I was nearly fifty, the love of the sea having been asleep for so many years!
I am a man, born a boy, and not the least bit ashamed of it. At the same time, I loved playing with my sisters, even to the point of dressing up as a girl. My parents didn’t mind if it was in the privacy of our large Victorian house and garden. I also like woodwork, machines and technology.
Some Americans seem to make a big point about firearms. The way things are going, I think we should be allowed to carry a sidearm having been taught to use it and found clear of a criminal record. We could then shoot terrorists who are trying to kill us – or other innocent folk – rather than wait for the police (by which time blood would be gushing out of our cut throats whilst the buggers ran away or blew themselves up with belt bombs). One doesn’t always have to shoot to kill. A bullet in the leg and most men would be in so much pain that they wouldn’t be able to do much… But, presently in Europe, firearms are very strictly regulated except for criminals who obtain and use them illegally. If they want to go to jail, that’s their problem. I prefer to be a law-abiding citizen. Perhaps all that might change if Europe becomes engulfed in civil war.
One thing I am not interested in is playing the image of a gung-ho Redneck who boasts about being able to take on the Feds, the CIA and the US Army with an old Smith & Wesson and a Winchester! For us Europeans, it’s not our way… In the end, those who live by the sword will die by the sword. I have never killed a human being, and I cannot imagine having to do so, since I have never been in a self-defence situation. Perhaps one day we will have to. I pray that this will never be so. If might is right, love has no place in this world – I quote the Jesuit priest from The Mission. Perhaps if civil war descends upon us, or an international war for that matter, there are many civil things we priests can do: help the victims of war and not add to the killing. I have saved a life when I was in my early twenties. It’s just something you do – the old notion of duty. I will certainly do my duty if called upon by need or by my country. Sense of duty is a rare commodity these days.
I detest the notion of “muscular Christianity”. Christianity isn’t something to be defended, but lived. It is not strength, but love and beauty, the Beatitudes. Of course, we are up against Islam, but we are not Vladimir Putin or the brave Iranians now strangling the life out of Daesh. But when I hear that Putin is now in bed with the baksheesh and khazouk Turks, I wonder who is on the side of the Angels. Any of us?
Perhaps we can begin by being Christians in the spirit of the Beatitudes, seeking the Kingdom of Heaven and then weighing up our own strengths with those of the enemy.