The Virtuous Man

 I mean to make myself a man, and if I succeed in that, I shall succeed in everything else.”

                                                                              ~James A. Garfield

I Believe in being a man.

No, this is not a derogatory term to throw at boys caught in emotion, nor a mantra that needs to be banned for the sake of a society that is fighting for gender equality. The very fact that when I make this claim I am met with rolling eyes and offended guffaws has taught me that somehow my view manhood is no longer the commonly held one. Let me provide some history.

The word virtue comes from the Latin root of vir, the very same that is the base component of “virility.” Why? Thousands of years ago, Aristotelian philosophy encouraged men to live the virtuous life, claiming that happiness was the ultimate goal of humanity and by ways of practicing their virtue, men would become distinctly better. Not better humans, but specifically better men. Why?

The root vir means, according to the 1879 Harper’s Latin Dictionary, “a male person, a man.” Therefore, when Aristotle told men to live the virtuous life he was very literally telling them to “man up.” This is because throughout human history, virtue and manhood are one, inseparable idea. In order to be a good man, you must be a virtuous one. You must be the best man possible in all facets of life.  And so, I believe in being a man. But it was not always so.

When I was younger I loved to play with toy soldiers, (a collection of which I still do not let my mother throw out), loved fighting, claimed the lion as my favourite animal and was passionately in love with blue. I was a man damn it! But as I started to get older, I started to dislike the word “man.” To me it started to become associated with arrogance, quick temper and an overall sense of negativity. Worst of all was that unbearable testosterone fuelled machoism that caused some men to have the horrible misconception that unbuttoning the first two or–God Forbid–three buttons of their shirt was manly. People who told me to be a man were definitely not role models and they always demanded I “man up” when I was exploring my emotions. It came to a point where I actively rebelled against the term manhood, associating it more with the possession of a certain appendage than anything else.

Until one day I was browsing the aisles of Chapters and came upon a little green paperback that would go on to change my life. It was titled The Art of Manliness: Classic Skills and Manners for the Modern ManAnd from that day on, I started my journey to manhood.

Today I believe and endorse an ancient, traditional definition of manhood; a definition that centres a man’s worth around how selflessly he can serve society, how well he can provide for his family and most importantly, how well he can treat the women of the world. To be a man is to make a conscious choice to traverse the demanding landscape of self-improvement daily, waking each morn with the indomitable spirit that comes with the power of election and having the willful discipline necessary to teach yourself the ways of the world.

It means burying yourself in the literature of the world, yet never becoming blind to the beauty of physical experience.
It means being resolute in your decisions, yet never deaf to the words of the young or old
It means devoting yourself to your craft as though you construct a shrine to the Gods, yet always making time for family and those in need.
It means telling your woman that you love her every chance you get, yet allowing her to live her life as she must.
It means protecting every woman as though she is your sister, not because their sex is inherently weaker, but because you have the privilege to be surrounded with their beauty and intelligence.
It means overcoming the fear of society to stand for what is right and just, yet knowing when to heed to fears warning’s of danger.
It means to treat all of mankind with the dignity that they deserve and actively preserve it.

It means to represent all that is masculine and anciently sacred on earth, yet also channel and balance the feminine energies of sensitivity and empathy within yourself.

It means to be of service to humanity.

So today I aspire to be a man. I aspire to one day be worthy of the title of manhood, for I realize I am yet a boy. I have no claim to that magnificent throne yet. But everyday I wake with the will to become worthy, the resolution to work for it and the discipline to one day embody the virtuous man. I only pray that when the universe calls upon my manhood, I can be of great enough service to mankind. So though I may be a boy, I am a boy on a journey.

A journey to Manhood.

This Believe.



References,. ‘Vir Definition’. N.p., 2015. Web. 15 Sept. 2015.

Hunnisett, Pamela. ‘Blogging Expectations’. thehunni. N.p., 2015. Web. 14 Sept. 2015.

Mckay, Brett. ‘The Art Of Manliness’. The Art of Manliness. N.p., 2015. Web. 14 Sept. 2015.,. ‘Sparknotes: Aristotle (384–322 B.C.): Nicomachean Ethics: Books I To IV’. N.p., 2015. Web. 14 Sept. 2015. 

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8 thoughts on “The Virtuous Man

  1. Dear Siddharth,

    To begin I’d like to acknowledge that I think we’ve been having a continuous debate regarding masculinity since tenth grade. And in that entire time, while I think we’ve learned a lot from each other, I would argue our debates have ended in a draw. I no longer think this is the case. For whatever it is worth, you’ve won me over. I don’t think I can ever challenge your opinion on masculinity or any of the terms you branch off of it again. The simple reason being this piece moved me in a way I did not expect it to.

    One thing in particular struck me and its how you mentioned associating the word man with ‘arrogance, quick temper and an overall sense of negativity’. This struck me because I never realized I myself have this connotation and the reason being most of the males in my life use the word in this way. Furthermore, I’ve also noticed a general trend where people who label themselves as ‘nice guys’ or ‘good men’ are people not to be trusted because they are entitled and a tendancy to a flaring and unpredictable temper. As a woman I’ve spent a lot of my life learning to associating masculinity and men with superiority and rightfully I find this degrading and am still unlearning a lot of this internalized sexism myself, but the way you define ‘manhood’ and being a man is different from that. Your definition exists outside of superiority and its a definition, to put simply, I respect and admire.

    Your prose in this piece is incredibly beautiful and persuasive. And the choice to turn to poetry near the end, a traditionally feminine form of writing, works stunningly to persuade your audience that your definition of manhood being a balance of masculine and feminine ideals is a genuine one. It truly grounds this piece in a way working with essay format alone wouldn’t.

    The only sort of feedback I can hope to offer is in the blog formatting itself. I would have preferred to see picture with the quote embedded in the body of the piece and I would have liked to see you reference it. Nonetheless, the piece flowed beautifully and was engaging regardless of the picture.

    I know this comment is extremely long and I again apologize for that, but I believe (haha aren’t I funny) that everything I have to say is something you deserve to hear. I suppose what I’m trying to tell you is that I think you’re an incredibly sincere individual who practices what he preaches. I think a lot of boys not only in our school but in life could do with taking a leaf out of your book. And I want to thank you for writing this because I’ve found it both enchanting and enlightening.


    1. Dear Megan, I’ve taken a couple of days to process and absorb what it is that you’ve said here. And only one phrase comes to mind.

      Thank you.

      It often feels like an impossible struggle to explain or even articulate what I believe manhood to be in a society where we are surrounded by bad examples of it. Skewed examples at the very least. Often I watch other guys my age and wonder how we can possibly handle the responsibility of manhood if this is where we sit as a collective now. Therefore, comments like this, especially coming from such a strong woman as yourself bring a fleeting peace to my heart that tells me that I’m on the right track.

      This piece was by no means simple to write, and it brings me joy that I was able to articulate my hearts language to some degree here.

      Simply put, it’s women like you who inspire boys like me to become better men.

      Thank you.

      Humbly yours,

  2. Siddarth,

    I just want to say that I had believed in everything you had typed. When I was a “boy” I played with Lego, beat up other boys and got beat up by other boys, I detested the colour pink, and overall I was OBSESSED with being the best athlete, and let’s not forget the number one “commandment” of being a “man” to boys; “thou shalt not shed tears”.

    However when I was in my pre and early teens, I felt the definition of being a “Man” change. I was afraid of my capabilities, I was afraid of what I would become. I had believed in this dogma and had let it poison myself. I wished to be different. I ended up hating the word “man”.

    Up until now I was confused with this definition to me. It was simple yet very abstract. Now I see the light. Now I see that the definition of our future is not one that contains elements of being “tough”, “strong”, “hardened”, and most of all, “ready to fight”. I see now that the definition of being a man is, in short, essentially being a better person than you were before. Being able to support and care for your family and society. Being able to do expand your capabilities, and possibly most importantly being a humble subject.

    My mother had always told me that men have been associated with the electron of the atom in Hinduism, and the Electron has been seen as the “male energy”. The explanation for this is simple, as she puts it, it is similar to the electron’s properties. An example being that the electron powers our computers and devices and life-support systems. She told me that men, when they have “found” themselves can be like the electron. A positive force in society and their family (see what I did there).

    P.S. I do no mean anything sexist or offensive.


    1. Dear Nilave,

      first off thank you for your comment. It’s always humbling to watch younger guys feel as though they have learnt something from my journey, seeing as I still have so much to learn myself. One of my greatest hopes is that by ways of writing these pieces I can inspire another boy, even in the slightest, to try and improve themselves in their own manhood. So thank you.

      Reading your last paragraph sparked an excitement within me that I always feel when approaching the brink of realization. As I mentioned, Manhood is an ancient ideal that has permeated throughout time and only recently started to become lost. Therefore to be introduced to a new analogy of it, especially in the terms of my own culture, was fascinating. Ancient philosophers have always blended science and philosophy as a means to explain the metaphysical in terms of the physical and to see that concept applied to manhood astounded me.

      I must therefore ask, what do you think it means that man is the electron? What is the connection behind the science and the ideal. I realize you explained it, but I’d love to hear your personal interpretation.

      Regardless, thank you for the beautiful comment.


  3. Hello Siddharth, my name is Joaquin Jacome and I am from the International School of Panama and I am part of Mr. Avelar’s class. I really enjoyed reading your essay because not only was it extremely well written, but you really showed that you cared about what you were writing. You seem to be very well informed about the topic and I am glad you got to write about what you wanted.

    1. Dear Joaquin,

      first off, greetings from the land of ice and polar bears. I’d like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to not only read but to also comment on this piece. To have someone you’ve never met appreciate your work is a moving experience and I thank you for this honour.

      Because of the beautiful opportunity you have offered me here, I feel inclined to ask you what Manhood means to you. My intention in asking this lies in the fact that you are surrounded by a different community and society, different everyday interactions and values than myself which causes me to wonder if your life experience has created a different view of masculinity and manhood to you?

      Thank you again for your kind words.

      Your friend from far away,

  4. Dear Siddarth,

    My name is Rodolfo Bissot and I study in the International School of Panama. I loved reading your writing. The topic and message is incredible but the way you write is even more splendid. I really like your word choice and diction you use. Terms like machoism were ones that really added a great spark to what could be a very simple piece. Insteead you created an amazing piece using a great fusion of words and creativity. Keep it up.

    Your friend from Panama Rudy

    1. Dear Rudy,

      first off may I say that you sir have a fantastic name!

      Now, on a more serious note, I’d like to thank you as well for your feedback. I know I’ve said it above, but it blows my mind that sitting so far away we are able to bridge gaps and that you are able to humble me so greatly with your words. Thank you.

      Now, I must pose to you the same question as I have to Joaquin: What does Manhood mean to you? With your life experiences and values and the society you live in, how do you view Manhood?

      Thank you again for your kind words.


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