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The Radical Notion That Men Are People

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Get to know yourself. I know, this seems obvious—but it's necessary to say in a society that is so committed to depriving people of self-knowledge, and where there are so many opportunities to forget. There exists a taboo against knowing who you are. Self-knowledge is considered a dangerous thing. Among those who lack self-knowledge, it certainly is. It's also an essential ingredient in freedom and the responsibility that comes with it.

Focus on your growth. Growth isn't just for little kids, puppies and kittens. Psychologically and emotionally, I would propose that growth has three basic elements: maturity, confidence, and self-esteem. These are different things, they are all closely related and they are all related to honesty. There's a severe shortage of these things in our society. They are equally meaningful, though I would say that of the three, the self-esteem crisis is one of the most serious issues facing our culture.

Know what you don't know. If you are clueless, that will make this fact all the more challenging to ascertain. Figuring out how little you know is one of the most liberating experiences of life. Ignorance, which has as its root the word "ignore"—an intentional, even forceful act—is not an excuse for anything. Its vast popularity is no excuse, either. That is different from lack of knowledge. To address that, you have to figure out what you don't know. This takes special sensitivity, because you need to notice your voids of knowledge without judging yourself.

Learn to look after yourself. By this I mean acquiring basic life skills that are quickly being forgotten in our "service-oriented" society. Learn how to shop for food, how to prepare meals, and how to establish and take care of your home. Learn how to wash your clothes and keep your house at least vaguely orderly. Learn how to take care of your body. Many men believe that it's a woman's role to do all of this for them. You're not learning this for their sake, however; you're learning it for your own sake.

Focus and master your talents. Pursue what you are good at, what is useful and what gives you pleasure. Note that some skills are to some people less "fun" but are also essential to a good life. I suggest you spend a significant portion of your time building your skills and accumulating knowledge, and putting them to use. This will make you a more well-rounded, self-reliant, and overall useful and productive person.

Take care of your health. This is a key aspect of looking after yourself—indeed, the most important. All the things you know can hurt you actually do. If you work with chemicals, know what they are and what they do—don't believe any claims of innocence by your company or by your boss. If you smoke, you are contaminating every cell in your body with every single drag of every cigarette—smoking is that efficient. The cigarettes you smoke are also deadly to the people you come into contact with (second-hand smoke) and the people they come into contact with (third-hand smoke). To quit, you may need to figure out why you smoke in the first place.

Learn to take care of women's bodies. If you're a man who has physical relationships with women, it's essential that you actually understand something about what a female body is and why it needs special care. Women's bodies are resilient, amazingly strong and do all kinds of fun and biologically fantastic things that men's bodies don't do. They're also more sensitive and more challenging to maintain. Rise above any ignorance and squeamishness you may have, or any sense that the woman's body is some alien "other."

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