What makes a man?

“Alexander Hamilton,” my friend declared after listening through Act Two of the musical, “was not a good man.”

Well. That depends. If we’re judging the measure of a man by his faithfulness to his wife then no, Alexander Hamilton was not a good man. And neither were Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy, nor Albert Einstein. All of whom, I would argue, are key figures in building the world we live in today and who did more good than anything else. But to say they were not good men because of marital transgressions seems to unfairly dilute and discolor their legacies as individuals who built a world.

Yet, my friend’s comment leaves me wondering: What makes a man? What makes a woman? More importantly, what makes a good man or woman?

Is a good man one who puts his family or his wife first? To me, that sounds like a good father or a good husband.

Then, what is a good man?

Is a good man someone who puts work, money, and providing before everything else? To me, that sounds like an employee or employer, a breadwinner, a producer.

And I continue to wonder, what is a good man?

Is a good man someone who has ideals, stands for them, writes them, shouts them from the rooftops? That could be an orator. That could be a leader.

It seems to me that all of these characteristics comprise the entirety of a man, just as they also comprise what makes a woman.

So what is it about people who stray, who are unfaithful, who seek a plurality of relationships of varying types and intensities that puts them in the “not good” category?

I wonder about that.

And I wonder about the other categories that we all fall into. I’m an educator, a daughter, a sister, a friend. I’m a runner, a yogi. Once upon a time, I was a dancer, a singer, a girlfriend. Do any of those things make me a “good” woman? What is a good woman? Is a good woman different from a good man?

And so back to, what makes a good man?

I’d argue that we need a social conversation about our goals for the people that we are developing, the people that we are creating. I’d argue that what makes a good man or a good woman can be discussed as simply, what makes a good person? 

We want people who care about other people. We want people who work for sustainable worlds built on justice, happiness, security, and increased well-being for all. We want people who care about those around them and who are willing to put others first and do what is right for the good of the whole. That seems to me less about being a good man or good woman and more about simply being a good human.

What makes a good man? What makes a good woman? That depends on who you ask.

What makes a good human, at least as far as I’m concerned, is the much more important question.

 

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