Let Your Words Become Contagious

Most men love western movies.  Even if the actual “way out west” setting isn’t Texas or Mexico, the rough lean character that speaks seldom, carries a big gun and has that angry scowl on his face appeals to men in a way that can’t be explained. Rambo is a “western character,” Clint Eastwood played in many western movies but even as Harry Callahan in city dramas like the Dirty Harry series, Clint handles himself as if he were in a western.  That cowboy saunter and attitude can’t be mistaken.  Their image renders one-shot reaction lines from sweating fearful, supporting characters like:

Mister, you got a lot of sand in you.”

Then they get to come back with toppers like;

“I reckon so.”


“I guess I’m expendable.”


“Dyin’ ain’t much of a living, boy.”

See? Just ice water in those veins, man.  It’s no wonder we all still adore those heroes.  They are the brazen, outspoken people we all wish we could be whenever conflict comes our way.  Instead, most of us have simply become compliant--willing to roll with what comes our way instead of fighting for a better world.

“Sorry the raise wasn’t bigger Johnston, you deserved more, but you know I got a lot of people to take care of.”

Oh of course boss, I understand.”  Meanwhile we want to say, “Yeah I do deserve better and I know five places that will be sure I get better so thanks for your kind words but I’m outta here.”

Or when the people behind you at the theater are kicking your seat and talking loudly and you hope one sideways glance from you will remind them to button up but it doesn’t.  So instead of saying what you want to say, you sit there and tolerate it for 2 hours.  But you know if you were the western movie hero you’d turn around and your steely gaze would get them to cower with intimidation and stop talking immediately.

Life just doesn’t play out like the movie, does it?

But there are other times men choose not to step into the fray of things and it’s not so ironic.  Times when men should act like men because that’s the right thing to do and the call has not been answered and it will take strength and integrity to step forward and do something the right way.  Beyond all chauvinistic tendencies or consideration of feminism and equality, men should still be “keepers” of order and decency.

I still believe:

  • Men should hold the door and let the woman go first when entering a store or house.
  • Men should give up their seat to a standing woman on a bus or train or at an event.
  • Men shouldn’t cuss or swear in front of women (even with the lame 1970s disclaimer of “scuse my French, ma’am”).
  • Women should not have to hear men burp and guys should still sneeze into a handkerchief when possible.
  • A man should stand when a woman leaves the table and rise again when she returns to sit.
  • Even at home, a man should never begin eating until his wife has been served or starts eating herself.
  • Now and then, not always but now and then, a man should open his mate’s car door for her and close it for her once she is inside.  I know with modern cars and simultaneous electronic opening doors this isn’t always practical but once in awhile, it’s nice.
  • And too, a man should compliment his partner in little ways.  “I sure like what you did with your hair.” Or “That dress fits you like it did 10 years ago!” Or “Good for you getting that raise! God knows how hard you work in that office it’s about time.”

See little touches like that separate us modern men from our Neanderthal cousins of years ago.  Yes, some of it sounds rather old-fashioned, but I’d be surprised to find even the most feministic woman that could tell you that the smallest gesture of decency and consideration performed by a man isn’t appreciated.

I’ve found that a lot of these “real men” have disappeared these days.  The challenge and lack of reward in life made them bitter and disinterested to step up and make a difference.  This indifference has fostered something worse and that is nestled in the passivity you see everywhere today and hear about in the news.  Men doing unspeakable things to infants and children.  Women getting beaten and battered by their male mates who are men twice their size.  Gangs of men taking innocent lives with drive-by shootings and stray bullets.  And fatherless homes all across this country where so many kids grow up without a dad or with a mom who has been without a loyal and home-staying mate so long they have just become part of the system, raising children on single-parent welfare.  Maybe it is and will always be too late for many of these men, but I appeal to the base decency of mankind where people begin to see that the world and its future outweighs the needs of one little man and his selfish insatiable desire for more for himself. 

One Christmas evening in Palm Springs, 2007, Nike Founder Phil Knight and his wife were leaving the theater having just seen The Bucket List and they ran into none other than American business icons Warren Buffet and Bill Gates (Microsoft).  The three billionaire titans stood talking for a few minutes and the collective agreement was that they were inspired and wanted to leave a better world behind and since they had the means, that was the primary driving force of their collective “Bucket Lists;” grow and share their wealth.  Well, they went about it and have been doing so for quite some time now with a series of philanthropic activities that is indeed changing the shape and needs of the world. 

My plea is this then:  If men like these feel compelled to utilize the wealth of their resources to change the world why can’t we, simply as men restore order and form to the family lives of so many misguided and unrepentant boys to men.

Men, I encourage you to act as an example to the young men in your respective companies.  Give them the sage advice of someone who has been around and seen the kind of stick-to-it-iveness that turns into reward later when the kids you are teaching and living with become smaller versions of you because you are respected for who you and what you have become.  Teach them to be responsible for the things they create and enjoy including children, spouses, siblings and parents.  Remind them that those extensions of themselves are there to be nurtured and maintained and it is their job to do so.

Start taking a stand about the kind of man it will take to turn this world around.  Let your words become contagious.  This is a world that lacks fathers and the lessons of stalwart men.  If we want to bring America back – truly want the clout and respectability that was once so common among the men who were once termed “great providers” we must give them the reward of emulating their lessons.

Once the reciprocal idea takes root, no honorable  destiny will be beyond our reach.

Ron Ciancutti has worked in the parks and recreation industry since he was 16 years old, covering everything from maintenance, operations, engineering, surveying, park management, design, planning, recreation, and finance. He holds a B.S. in Business from Bowling Green State University and an M.B.A. from Baldwin Wallace University. He has held his current position as Director of Procurement since 1990. He is not on Facebook, but he can be reached at ron@northstarpubs.com.