If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master,
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!
- Rudyard Kipling ("IF")
This poem resonates with me. Regardless of the theological qualms some may have with parts of what Kipling is saying, there is a visceral understanding and reaction in the man who reads this, because this is what we all long to see and become.
In an age where manhood is constantly nullified and scorned, we look for men who live with virtue, righteousness, fearlessness, and yes . . . who define masculinity in word, thought, and deed. We look for those who will stand for justice, and we look for a man to know the difference between good and evil and then choose good.
We look for someone who will live LIFE, when all others fail; who will point the way to Truth in the face of scorn and ridicule. We long to be able to LOVE regardless . . . and that yearning is God-ordained.
Alas, there are few to look to. In fact, we all fail so miserably in our own strength.
It reminds me of what I read today in Isaiah 59:
. . . our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are with us, and we know our iniquities:
Transgressing and denying the LORD, and turning away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving in and uttering from the heart lying words.
Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the street, and uprightness cannot enter.
Yes, truth is lacking; and he who turns aside from evil makes himself a prey.
Now the LORD saw, and it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice. And He saw that there was no man, and was astonished that there was no one to intercede . . .
So He came Himself.
He showed us what true manhood is, and does, and suffers for Truth's sake. He is our perfect example, reconciling men to be real. We can now live up to our design.
That yearning we feel inside?
That's just our natural, instilled desire to be like Christ.
That's where we find it.
That's what a man is.
© Copyright Derek Hickman 2009