“We are men of action. Lies do not become us” – Westley (the princess bride)
One of my favorite movies is The Princess Bride. Yes, I know, the title doesn’t necessarily exude manliness; however, a quote in that movie struck a chord with me years ago. It confirmed what I believed I knew then and has only solidified now as I’ve gotten older.
The quote is from the conversation between Westley and Count Rugen shortly after Westley is captured outside of the fire swamp. Count Rugen lies to Westley about where it is he is taking him. Westley replies with this quote: “We are men of action, lies do not become us”. Westley, our hero, knew this would be his emminent demise. No spoilers here. Watch the movie and see. I have always thought long and hard about what it means to be a “man of action”. Many things come to mind; although, these thoughts are not doctrine, but a good idea of what, in my opinion, is a man of action. No, I haven’t mastered these ideas; but they are things we should all strive for.
A man of action is one of honor. Honor is normally thrown around like a beach ball at a Jimmy Buffet concert, but it’s a term I believe all fathers should be aware of and should internalize. To merely speak honorably is not honor. True honor is seen in action. It’s your reputation, a good reputation. A man of honor isn’t doubted, he is truthful and genuine. Although he speaks honorably, he doesn’t just beat his chest and demand respect. He understands respect is earned by his actions.
“The life of a man is like going the distance with a heavy load upon the shoulders. Haste not…. reproach none, but forever watchful of thine own short-comings” – Iyesyasu
A man of action is one of Justice. To do what is fair, what is right, is justice. Not justice in the way of revenge, but justice in how one deals with others. How he brings peace to his home. Yes, the man of action administers swift time outs and the occasional spanking to misbehaved children. He also knows when he is wrong and understands he isn’t perfect. Knowing this, he takes responsibility for his mistakes and shortcomings. It may not be justice in the eyes of the law, but justice for what is right in his world.
“Rectitude is the power of deciding upon a certain course of conduct in accordance with reason, without wavering” – Uknown Bushi
A man is of action is a man of rectitude – or moral fortitude. He has a reason for what he is and what he does. He has chosen a just path, a righteous path. He is driven to improve and stay on the fair path. Rectitude is the structure that keeps him in action. It is his calling, his “why”.
These are men of purpose.
“Its requirement is that we should weep with those that weep and rejoice with those that rejoice” – Inazo Nitobe
A man of action is one of benevolence. He empathizes with others less fortunate than he. He is concerned for the common welfare. If he sees a mother with her child standing on the bus, he gives up his seat so they may sit. He puts the needs of others ahead of himself. If he sees a line for something good, he gets behind it. If he sees a line for something bad, he gets in front of it. However, he also understands not everyone can be helped by others. Some need to help themselves.
A man of action is one of responsibility and provides for his loved ones. He does not only provide food, a home, or clothing. He also provides his time. He understands that his loved ones are his most important assets, and he will drop everything to let them know just that. He works hard for his family, but he also knows his family needs him most.
“Tranquility is courage in repose… A truly brave man is ever serene; he is never taken by surprise: nothing ruffles the equanimity of his spirit” – Inazo Nitobe
A man of action is polite. He isn’t an asshole; and while he is polite, his demeanor is also genuine. He is composed and civil—and not in a false or cowardly way. He knows when it’s time to “not be nice”. He greets everyone he meets and looks them in the eye. And, of course, he gives solid hand shakes.
A man of action is one who can protect. We all want to protect our families. A man of action knows what needs to be done to make that happen. He understands that violence is a last resort, but he also knows it is better to be a “warrior in a garden than a gardener in battle“. He sees weapons as tools, he is not afraid of them. He knows how to use them well. He understands that sometimes, striking hard and fast is the answer – although not desirious of such, only willing.
A man of action is one of just that: action. You can’t be considered a man of action if you sit on the couch all day. I don’t care what TV series drama you are in to binge watching on Netflix. A man of action acts. He takes action in everything he wants to improve on and blames no one for his shortcomings.
When I really think of what Westley said to the Duke, in the context in which it was said, it’s this:
If we are to say that we are “men of action”, then there is no reason to hide our true intentions from each other. We are strong enough, smart enough and observant enough to realize what is going on here. A man of action does not bury his head in the sand and hope that the outcome of his life will be greater once he emerges. He acts. He understands the gravity of things and will not change the outcome of his destiny by wishing it, but by willing it. That, my friends, is a man of action. What are you?