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Manhood: Beards, Bacon and ???

Jeff Summers

Beards. They have been a quintessential symbol of masculinity for eons. Since before the Vikings or great philosophers, they've been seen as a sign of strength, wisdom and straight-up in(on?)-your-face manhood.

With the long-held bald faced fad on the decline, many men are choosing to embrace the fact that they naturally grow facial hair. This is a big win for masculinity in the eyes of some. But what about men who don't grow facial hair because of genetic, employment, or personal reasons? Are the cadre of Bearded brethren more manly than they? It depends on what it really means to be a man.

The true measure of a man has nothing to do with the amount of hair on his face, his batting average or how much bacon he puts on his apple pie. It has everything to do with the manner in which he interacts with the world around him.

I'm very fortunate to have in my life a living example of what it means to be a true man: my dad. He has taught me some of the most valuable lessons I could possibly learn, and he hasn't even done it on purpose. He's done it by simply living his life. When faced with a situation I often find myself asking, much more than he will ever realize, "What would my dad do?" And I have a gargantuan bank of memories with which to answer this question. Among many other things, my dad taught me:
    • To hold the door for both women and men, even if you have to wait a few seconds because they're still 20 feet away.
    • There 's no room for "what-if's" or "if only's" in life. Or as he is fond of saying, in order to highlight the futility of such endeavors, "If we had some ham, we'd have ham and eggs. If we had some eggs."
    • Whether you're managing a business or sweeping the floor, do the job as if the world depends on you doing it with excellence. Because it does.
    • Always return to the store and pay for that item the cashier forgot to ring up, regardless of how inconvenient it is or how much the item costs.
    • How to give a strong yet non-aggressive handshake while looking someone in the eye.
    • Do your best to avoid confrontation, but when it's necessary, don't shy away from it. Do it firmly yet gently, in a way that avoids dehumanizing the other person.
    • How to talk to a complete stranger as though you've known him your entire life.
    • When you give someone your word, the story ends there.
    • Doing the right thing is always worth doing simply because it's right.
Beardsmith Blog - Bud SummersI didn't learn these things from a book, a pulpit or a Dale Carnegie seminar, and I didn't learn them by listening to someone trying to impart wisdom. I learned them by watching a man live his life in a way that he learned from watching the man before him.

There are many things that can define a man. Beards, bacon, career choice and bench press weight fall so far behind the things that really matter, they become entirely insignificant. Although I do have to dad has had a Beard throughout 90% of his adult life, so maybe there is at least a little something to the Beard...


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