Usually, I believe in order, in unity, in building things up.
I think a man’s primary purpose is to create an ordered domain, a walled garden, within which the things he values most can thrive.
I say “a man’s” purpose because I write for, to, and about men and not women. But regardless of that fact, men and women in general do have different strengths, thought processes, and abilities which means that the division of work between the sexes is typically arranged in such a way that plays to each gender’s capabilities, even today in the modern culture of equality.
Historically speaking, until very recently, it was the responsibility of men to create and defend perimeters around the outposts of civilization that they were building up. Outside the proverbial walls of culture lurk predators and strangers and all manner of unknown agents, many of which are threats. Beyond the wall is chaos, but inside that protected perimeter things are ordered according to mankind’s will.
When things are comfortable and secure, nobody thinks about the perimeter and what might lie beyond, nor do they think much about the ones who defend that perimeter.
But when things get nasty, in times of hardship, capable men rush to defend the culture’s perimeter, while less capable men and women rush towards the center of that culture to protect the vulnerable.
This is a good system, and it’s still the system we use today, although we don’t often admit it. It’s also such a prevalent system that The Wall has become a common trope in myth, story, and television.
The Norse Gods lived in Asgard, which had a solid wall defended by Heimdall, the ever-vigilant one. The Garden of Eden had a wall beyond which Adam and Eve were cast into exile. Tolkien’s great cities all had walls, such as Gondolin and Minas Tirith, which all served to protect people from hordes of cannibal Orcs. George Martin invented The Wall in The North of Westeros, which was defended by The Night’s Watch, who fought off bands of savage raiders and sullen ice-zombies. Contrary to this trend, the ancient Spartans preferred to defend their city with “walls of men instead of brick,” but this is still a valid example of the idea of establishing and defending boundaries of culture.
These are just a few examples of the trope of The Wall, which serve to illustrate my point.
It’s human nature to build enclosed settlements within which our culture can thrive defended by solid walls and strong men to guard them.
Imagine you live in a city, and that city is suddenly placed under siege. Who runs to the wall to fend off the invaders? Usually, hard capable men. But what does everyone else do? They take care of things inside the perimeter. This system is the product of human nature. Most men are stronger than most women. Most women are naturally inclined to protect children and other vulnerable people, like the elderly or the lame. So the division of labor reflects this duality.
Both of these roles are valuable and vital to the continued survival of the culture. The perimeter must be defended, and men are generally more capable of that task than women, so men do the fighting. The center of the culture must be secured and cared for, and women are generally more capable of that task than men, so women do the nurturing inside the perimeter.
It’s got nothing to do with suppression, or patriarchy, or chauvinism. It just makes sense. Women are generally less physically strong than men, and women give birth to and nurture children. That makes men more expendable than women. We can fight better than they can, but we can’t raise children as well as they can. So we fight, and they stay with the needy.
A very nuanced exploration of this theme can be found in Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings between Eowyn and Eomer. Eomer is a General and warrior, and he must fight in a great war. Eowyn is a woman and wants to fight in the war, but she is denied. Both are heirs to the throne of Rohan should King Theoden die. So Eowyn must stay at home with her people to be a strong leader when the King and his heir have gone to a battle from which they will not likely return. King Theoden does not deny her wish to fight and die in battle because she’s a woman. He denies her because she’s royalty, and her responsibility is to lead her people when nobody else can. He doesn’t think he’ll survive, doesn’t think Eomer will survive, so he leaves her home to give the people hope. Both Eomer and Eowyn are brave and willing to fight, but Eomer is a greater warrior than she is, so he must fight the war while she must stay with the people.
All of these points about gender roles and the differences between the sexes are generalities, of course, but I’m not talking about the exceptions here. I’m talking in general.
This is the general system of human society as it has more or less existed since the dawn of time.
I wouldn’t change this system for the world. It’s worked in the past, and it still works today.
We men should always strive to be builders and defenders, protect what we care about, and improve what we’ve got. Our job is to establish order and drive chaos from out of our domain like a poisonous snake.
I believe in order and creation.
I believe that it’s my job, as a man, to establish a perimeter around my family within which they are protected.
I believe it’s my responsibility to go out beyond that perimeter every day to seek out and bring back the things my family needs to thrive.
Sure, I’m not out there hunting bison and chasing off wolves (or orcs), but I’m out in the world doing what I must to provide for my family.
I believe this is my job, and I feel privileged to be given the opportunity to be the guy who lives up to those expectations.
I generally prefer to build things up, to establish and develop order, to provide for my people so that they can build upon the foundations I’ve set down, just as I have built upon the legacy that was handed down to me.
I believe that it’s everyone’s responsibility, regardless of gender or ability or social standing, to improve upon the many gifts they’ve been given by the people who came before. If we each worked to make things a little better at the end of our lives than they were at the start, things would improve on a global scale in a very short space of time.
We should all strive to be builders and custodians of a well-ordered culture.
But despite all that, there’s also a lot to be said for blowing things to pieces.
Order is good, but an excess of order leads to tyranny. Consider how orderly and proscribed every aspect of daily life was under the Soviet regime in the 20th century. That was an excess of order, and it inevitably crumbled because it became overwhelming and inhumane.
We need chaos as much as we need order because chaos is freedom and opportunity.
We’re independent animals who work together to benefit mutually. But we don’t completely abandon our individual identity simply because it’s more convenient to be part of a collective. Order is the process by which we, who are each chaotic agents with our own goals, act in a mutually beneficial way for as long as it makes sense for us to do so.
As soon as order breaks down and stops being part of the greater good, we abandon it and return to chaos.
Furthermore, order limits us. We can’t just do whatever we want if we’re bound by rules and conventions. We can’t always, for example, take big risks in the hope of winning big rewards because that might contravene the laws by which our society binds us.
But that’s precisely how heroes are made.
What would the great heroes of myth and legend be if they didn’t have a monster to slay? Imagine Beowulf with no Grendel, St. George with no dragon, Sigurd with no Fafnir, Gandalf with no Sauron.
To have an antagonist, some personification of chaos, motivates us to strive for greatness and conquest and progress. Without something to struggle against, we stagnate into a bland mass of nothingness.
So we must expose ourselves to chaos periodically to spur us onwards towards a greater order.
So, as I’ve already said, I believe in order. I believe in progress. I believe in being a builder, a gardener, a custodian, a protector of what’s already been accomplished.
Most of the time.
But sometimes, when the situation calls for it, I believe in dynamite.
I believe that, now and then, we must tear down old structures and old systems of being for the sake of creating something new. There are times when you can’t build upon the foundations of what already exists. You have to destroy everything and start again.
This applies on the macro level as well as on the micro.
Sometimes we have to kill some part of ourselves, our psyche, our habits, or our identity to progress beyond our previous limitations.
This is an essential process in many forms of therapy. Leaving behind old neuroses and practices and replacing them with new, more functional modes of being.
In the modern system of Runology, there is a Rune called Hagalaz, which represents the Hailstone. Hail is like a hard rain from heaven, which strips away dead branches from plants and trees, damages crops and livestock, but then melts and waters the soil so that new life can grow.
Hail is nature’s dynamite. So are landslides and floods.
As nature destroys to seed new life, so too must we. We must constantly assess whether our modes of being, our cultures, habits, thoughts, and identities are valid in the ever-changing circumstances that challenge us. We must determine whether the old way of doing things still works or will work again in the future. If not, if it’s become outdated and cumbersome, perhaps it’s time we repurposed those old processes into a better form.
Or perhaps it’s time we blew it up.
You can argue about the effectiveness of anything. You can argue about political systems, religious creeds, social structures, personal habits, the nature of reality itself.
But you can’t argue with dynamite.
You can’t argue with the fact that human nature is to build things up and establish order, even if all we’ve got to work with is the wreckage of what came before.
You see, I might come across as cynical and grim in the way I present myself, but I’m really a very optimistic kind of guy. I have great faith in my own abilities and the abilities of humanity in general. I believe there are relatively few situations in which we couldn’t survive and possibly even thrive. I mean, we survived the Ice Age, and that was practically an apocalypse.
So I don’t see any harm in blowing things up and tearing things down to seed the growth of something new.
But only when it’s really necessary.
As I said, I believe in order above all, so we must be sure that what we are about to destroy needs to be destroyed.
We live in a world that is ever-changing, fluid, always in motion. Things change of their own accord, and sometimes we can’t keep up. But things can change too much or too fast if we’re eager to speed the process along.
We’re hungry for change. People all seem to want something to change in their life. A new job, a new home, a new government, a new economic system, a new classification of gender, a new media. They don’t often know what exactly they want to change, but they know they want to change. This is why political candidates always promise change if you give them your vote because change is big currency in people’s minds. A lot of the time, people are quite prepared to believe in dynamite to bring that change into reality.
And you can’t argue with that. Destroy what exists and we’re forced to create something new to replace it. If you want things to change, you either can take the slow and tedious route of changing people’s minds, or you can just blow things to pieces and force people to start again.
I see a lot of that these days, a lot of dynamite. Hagalaz is the Rune of the present culture, and it’s a mighty force being wielded by incompetents.
But this isn’t an essay on current cultural trends. This is an essay on dynamite, chaos, and order.
So I’d advise you to assess your own walled garden. Where is your domain, your sphere of influence? What things do you have the power to control? Are you psychologically and spiritually whole, or do you need to make improvements? Is your house in order, your family, your community? If not, what can you do to establish order? Can you build upon what you’ve got to make things better? Or do you need to light the fuse and start again?
But be careful because dynamite only serves one purpose. You can’t bring back what you’ve destroyed. You can only start again.
So make damn sure that what you’re working to destroy really needs to die before you light the fuse.