Saturday, July 30, 2005

Bear Necessities


One of the first things that budding wilderness aficionados learn is that you don’t mess with bear cubs. If you run in to one while you’re hiking in the woods, you’d better keep your distance from it and be very watchful of your surroundings if you want to live. The reason is that its mother is never too far away, and mama bears do not take kindly to people that get too close to their young, let alone threaten them. And God forbid if you find yourself between a mother and a cub. If you’re not packing a large-caliber firearm, the chances of you surviving the next two minutes are greatly diminished.

In the human species, especially in American society, we go through cycles of valuing masculine or feminine characteristics, both as individuals and as a society at large. For the purposes of our discussion, I will label feminine characteristics as follows: aesthetics, words, philosophy, arts, emotions, etc.; I will label masculine characteristics as substance, action, science, security, etc.

Now before you go labeling me as sexist, let me make very clear the idea that both masculine and feminine characteristics, yin and yang, have their place in us, as individuals and as a society. Lord knows my daily activities in architecture and music are replete with feminine characteristics, so I know the critical value they have in modern society.

Living in relative peace for extended periods of time tends to reinforce the value of feminine characteristics. The unfortunate side-effect of this is that masculine characteristics lose their value. One might even say that masculine characteristics are demonized. Words mean more than actions. Extended dialogues take precedent over decisive action. Art and philosophy are valued more than brute science. Expression of emotion is more important than living securely. It’s all good, baby – as long as nobody is threatening you.

Well, in case you haven’t been paying attention, we are now being threatened. I would venture to say that the security of our society has never been in more danger than it is this very second, and it’s not getting any better anytime soon.

Meanwhile, we remain in the thought patterns and values systems that have molded our society for the last 40 years: philosophy, introspection, aesthetics, selfishness and emotion. The values system that empowered us to defeat fascism in 60 years ago seems very very far away. Perhaps it doesn’t even seem relevant anymore.

America, masculine values are knocking at your door, but you don’t hear it. They are warning you of impending disaster. They are crying out to you to start listening to them. They are desperately trying to tell you that our representative republic, our liberal democracy, is very fragile and needs to be protected.

Mother bears know what to do when their young are being threatened. If only some of mama bear would find its way in to American society, we might make it through the next 10 years.

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