I’ve often spent my time wondering about the aspects of humanity which we would see as “good” characteristics of a man. What makes a male a good man? What is it that sets him apart from other men? I decided to do some research of noted people throughout time, and here’s a few quotes I found rather fitting.
“The wise man does not expose himself needlessly to danger, since there are few things for which he cares sufficiently; but he is willing, in great crises, to give even his life–knowing that under certain conditions it is not worth while to live. He is of a disposition to do men service, though he is ashamed to have a service done to him. To confer a kindness is a mark of superiority; to receive one is a mark of subordination… He does not take part in public displays… He is open in his dislikes and preferences; he talks and acts frankly, because of his contempt for men and things… He is never fired with admiration, since there is nothing great in his eyes. He cannot live in complaisance with others, except it be a friend; complaisance is the characteristic of a slave… He never feels malice, and always forgets and passes over injuries… He is not fond of talking… It is no concern of his that he should be praised, or that others should be blamed. He does not speak evil of others, even of his enemies, unless it be to themselves. His carriage is sedate, his voice deep, his speech measured; he is not given to hurry, for he is concerned about only a few things; he is not prone to vehemence, for he thinks nothing very important. A shrill voice and hasty steps come to a man through care… He bears the accidents of life with dignity and grace, making the best of his circumstances, like a skillful general who marshals his limited forces with the strategy of war… He is his own best friend, and takes delight in privacy whereas the man of no virtue or ability is his own worst enemy, and is afraid of solitude.” -Aristotle
“Action is greater than writing. A good man is a nobler object of contemplation than a great author. There are but two things worth living for: to do what is worthy of being written; and to write what is worthy of being read.” -Ross Perot
“The greatest object in the universe, says a certain philosopher, is a good man struggling with adversity; yet there is a still greater, which is the good man that comes to relieve it.” -Oliver Goldmsith
But what does this exactly mean? It gives a basic idea of how to conduct one’s self, but in simple terms, what are the ideal traits?
I’ll attempt to answer it as best I can, with the lessons I’ve learned from two great men, though I could never have admitted it to their faces: my father, Kenny Peters, and my grandfather, Robert Peters. I’ve watched these two men over the last two decades of my admittedly rather short life, when compared to their lives. The lessons were taught in various ways, with the gruff words of my grandfather, and the rather soft-spoken advice of my dad.
Grandpa’s lessons were more about letting me try things my way, trial and error. He only offered advice after I had given it my shot, or knew I needed the words. I never knew him to be anything more than a simple, honest, and strong man of faith and conviction. His viewpoints were expressed, and he made sure I knew where he was coming from. Grandpa was a man of action, and would try things again and again until they worked out. (I’m speaking from my own experiences, but can’t say anything for others in my family.) I recall numerous times when helping him out with a building or gardening project, he would attempt to do something, where I would then argue as to how it should be done. There were a few times he was right, and as I got older, a few when he did it my way.
My dad, on the other hand, is methodical in his actions. Sometimes, I swear I can see the gears inside his head, turning at a constant and dizzying pace. Everything I have seen him do was carried out with a plan in mind, every step calculated. Dad has always been rather soft-spoken when compared to his father, but he always has plenty to say about the given subject, if you give him your ears. To sum up my lessons from my father, he was the quiet but strong voice in my ear, never telling me what to do, but guiding me along, a nudge in the right direction. Sometimes, that nudge required some force, but it got me to where I am.
What did I learn from them, though? What about the characteristics of a good man?
The characteristics I perceive as the qualities of a good man were the same characteristics I saw in these men, in their thoughts, actions, and words. They are as follows:
- A good man is one who is kind and compassionate.
- A good man is honest and hard-working.
- A good man will tell you the truth.
- A good man keeps his word.
- A good man has self-control and is respectful when he speaks to any women.
- A good man is willing to be corrected or counseled by you.
- A good man is faithful and reliable, he is able to forgive you when you do wrong.
- A good man is humble, generous and is a peacemaker as well.
- A good man knows how to control his temper.
- A good man is confident of himself, his family, and his friends.
- A good man can always see the bright side.
- A good man cares more for others than himself.
- A good man takes care of those around him, even the random strangers.
- A good man knows that money is important in today’s world, but not as important as family and friends.
- A good man stands up for his beliefs and for those who cannot.
- A good man is a man of patience, weighing actions and words carefully.
- A good man makes amends for his faults and mistakes.
These are the lessons I have picked up from Dad and Grandpa. I strive to live up to these ideals every day, and hope that one day, I will live up to the standards they have set before me.
Now, I have given you my take on what it means to be a good man. I’ll leave you with one last quote before you go.
“Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.” –Marcus Aurelius