In a world filled with overly protective soccer moms, political correctness, and people who dance to the music of another's song, being a renaissance man can be tough. A renaissance man is not a throw back to a by-gone era. Rather, he is a person who enjoys the art of living and makes up his own song, always humming the melody, much to the annoyance of those folks who follow the existing state of affairs. He is not a drone. It takes a certain amount of courage to be a renaissance man.
Today when people think of courage, their minds run to the memories of 9/11/2001: the heroic efforts of the New York City fire and police personnel as the first responders at the Twin Towers and the valiant efforts of the passengers of Flight 93 that brought down the plane before it could take its' toll on our nation's capitol. They think of Seal Team 6 and Obama bin Laden. Many can recall the images of weary GI's carrying a wounded comrade to a waiting helicopter. And some folks can still remember the raising of the U.S. flag by a few marines on Iwo Jima. Then there are those of us who are reminded of the courage it took for George Washington's men to cross the treacherous Delaware River on a cold December 25th night to defeat the Hessians and deliver a major blow to the British war effort. These are examples of courage never to be denied and always remembered. Sadly, when the average Joe is reminded of those things, he feels that he could never compete in that arena; he puts his life on one side of a balance scale and those heroics mentioned on the other. Joe feels diminished and does not try to be courageous in his every day life. He does not realize that he is comparing apples to oranges and continues to follow the music of the popular beat. That is a shame because not everyone can be at the same place and time to be a Sgt. York, an Audie Murphy, or Seal Team 6. We are where we are and not anywhere else.
What about the Joe who goes to work every day hating his job and hating his boss. This particular Joe cannot simply walk away; he has mouths to feed and bills to pay. People depend on him. So he sucks it up and soldiers on. He does his job and completes his mission, one day at a time. This Joe has put the needs and wants of others before himself. This is another example of courage.
There is that particular kind of Joe who cannot tolerate any kind of abuse. He is the corporate whistle-blower, he is the guy who stopped his neighbor from beating his wife, and he is the Joe who helped police catch the leaders of the town's dog fighting ring. These Joes stuck out their necks for others and maybe never thought that they were courageous; scared yes, but courage may not have entered their mind. And there are more examples.
That Joe who stands his ground based on principal, regardless of personal consequence, is courageous. Today in our politically correct world, standing up to a bully is not considered a smooth move; we'd rather turn it over to the shrinks and lawyers to handle. But the Joe who bloodies the nose of a bully, regardless of the shit storm that it can create, acts courageously. Coddling bullies only makes them more aggressive but when justice hits them square in the face they tend to crumble. Celebrity, money, and position never should exempt a man from the behavioral rules of an ordered society. Being a renaissance man is not being a relic of the past but living a life of self-respect where courage is complimented by other elements.
When the average Joe becomes industrious in one or more forms, he becomes more self-reliant. He can stand on his own two feet and has less need to call for a helping hand. Self-confidence grows as does self-esteem, giving way to a deep sense of personal honor. All renaissance men exhibit these traits and also have developed a strong, personal form of self-discipline in their lives. But a renaissance man shines brightest in the areas of his life that involve truth and fidelity.
A renaissance man knows that sometimes truth is hard to swallow; he faces it and takes his lumps. And his fidelity to a true friend and spouse takes real courage. He must have the courage to tell his friend the hard truth, regardless of hurt feelings, or the possibility of a punch in the nose. The same is true in his give and take with his spouse. The renaissance man has the courage to champion and cherish his spouse above all else; the oath of marriage and the marriage bed are a really big deal.
Sorry, but even the most ardent soccer moms and football dads can succumb to infidelity if they do not possess the cold steel discipline and courage of a renaissance man. A renaissance man knows what is truly important and does not fall into temptation's hands. When I was much younger, a wise man gave me a brief lesson in moral and ethics, and his words are just as valid today. He said, "A moral man knows it's wrong to cheat on his spouse but does it anyway. When faced with the prospect of the tempting act of infidelity, he reasons within himself that somehow or someway he either deserves it or has earned it. In this manner the moral man commits a grievous error against his wife and does so without any sense of self-reproach or loathing. An ethical man also knows that infidelity is wrong and just will not do it.....because.....it is wrong." A renaissance man truly is an ethical man. And if a man cheats on his spouse, what else or who else is he or has he cheated?
So what about all those average Joes? The truth is that many of them are not average; they are renaissance men but have yet to recognize this fact. That will happen as soon as they stop comparing themselves to others. When they do, they will write their own music, hum their own tunes, and sing their own songs. All of this will be done, much to the chagrin of the keepers of the static state of affairs, and to the princes of political correctness.
Copyright @2013 Terry Unger