Day Six: Describe your image of the ideal man (Jesus excepted).
This was a complex question that required a good deal of thought and reflection. Here’s what I have come up with.
The chief duty of a man is to provide and protect. In the most basic family unit the mother bears and raises the child while the man provides food, shelter, and defense for her while she does so. Therefore the key virtue of man could be said to be strength; strength channeled through devotion. I believe that every quality a man can posses will ultimately boil down to this formula: strength channeled through devotion.
The ideal man, therefore, will have a very specific purpose to his life, one which will direct his energies in a particular direction. In addition, he’ll have or seek to develop the ability to fulfill his purpose.
Now, the purpose that drives the man’s devotion must be a worthwhile one; if it is too limited or insignificant it won’t allow him to develop his strength and he will atrophy. If it is impractical or utterly unattainable he won’t be able to properly pursue it (since you can’t use an illusion to guide yourself). If it’s an unworthy or morally deficient goal, it will warp his strength or turn it into ruthlessness and cruelty (the image I have is of a cannon; if it’s pointed at the correct target, it’s effective. If it’s mishandled, it’s just destructive).
So the ideal man will devote himself to a worthwhile purpose, which will nurture his strength and cause it to increase, bringing him closer and closer to achieving his purpose.
That’s in the abstract. Dialing down a bit closer to earth, the ideal man would look something like this:
He is a professional; whatever his particular occupation is, he is an expert at it. In the face of opposition he holds his ground firmly, yet calmly; he accepts no insult, nor does he insult anyone. He is supremely sure of who he is and what he believes and is comfortable with himself. If he has a family, they are his first priority. He never lies, he never cheats, he never compromises his principles.
If you met him, you would find him a pleasant, engaging acquaintance. He would strike you as someone who is at peace with himself and who knows his place in life. There would be no bitterness about him, whatever his current situation. If things were going badly for him, he probably wouldn’t mention it, or if he did it would be in an off-the-cuff, disinterested manner. If things were going well, he might tell you how grateful he was. He might be talkative and friendly, or he might be taciturn and reserved, but he would always be polite and never give offense.
You would come away with the impression that this was someone you could depend on; someone who seems to have figured out something you haven’t. You would certainly consider him a friend worth having, and you would pity the man that made him an enemy. For you would sense that, however polite and friendly the man might be, here was someone who could never be bullied or intimidated into submission. Here were great reserves of strength that could be directed on any obstacle with devastating force, and woe to the one who tried to be an obstacle to this man’s purpose.
There’s a quality about the ideal man that is hard to capture in words: a sense of solidity, the slightly intimidating impression that this is someone you could never move or manipulate. At the same time, though, you enjoy spending time with him because of his engagingly good nature. The ideal man inspires not only liking, but respect in those who meet him. It’s a similar effect to when we encounter, say, a waterfall, or a thunderstorm, or a beautiful piece of music. It’s the sense that here is something that is closer than most things to how it ought to be: a clearer-than-usual image of God.