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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

What it means to me to be a good man: Three ideas

<t does goodness, within the context of manhood, mean to me? The androcentric prompt is personally challenging as my thoughts on the topic have evolved over time, and I’m frankly timid about freezing my current (maybe wrongheaded) ideas in print. But this Carleton community challenges us all to risk and enter uncomfortable spaces from time to time; and, as a man passing through his fourth decade of life, a man lucky enough to have some solid relationships with other men in all stages of life, and as the father of an eight year old boy, I should be able to write something, no?

Yes. To that end, I offer three ways of thinking about the nexus of goodness and manhood. But, as a point of departure, I’ll state that for me, goodness is an aspiration and manhood is a process. Here goes.

First, think about it. It’s my observation that those who are men and good take time to reflect. They take quiet time to listen to themselves and consider the feedback of others about their actions and agency, or maybe the lack thereof. Remember, this is a process; tomorrow offers another opportunity. A man can learn. A man can change. Go figure.

Second, feel it. I’m of the opinion that the path towards goodness is clearer for those who understand their emotive self. I don’t wish to quibble about whether a man should ignore, express, or repress their emotions. There are different ways to be a man. My point is awareness. Know what you feel. Talk with people you trust. Something to think about.

Third, be willing to teach. Growing up I often played with a neighbor boy named David. From time to time my father would buy us a candy bar; yup, just one for the two of us to share. My father would hand the candy bar to one of us and say, “You get to break, he gets to pick”. My father could have easily bought us two candy bars, but he felt it was important for us to struggle with this. Turns out he was right; thanks Dad.

In closing, for me being a good man is about trying to get better and about trying to help other men along the way; yea, even if it means writing it down.

-Joe Baggot is the Associate Dean of Students

This essay is part of an ongoing series established by Chase Kimball. If you would like to have your own reflections published, please respond to the question “What does it mean to you to be a good man?” in an essay of 400-800 words and e-mail it to [email protected].

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