Moto Book of the Month – August

The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius

This book is difficult for me to describe succinctly. It’s had a tremendous impact on my life and I honestly no longer remember the number of times I’ve read it. Especially the first book (it is subdivided into twelve parts, or books).

These are quite literally, the meditations of Marcus Aurelius. He writes his own private thoughts about duty and the meaning of life, reminds himself to stay true to his values, to be a good man, to be humble, to give thanks to everyone and everything that formed him. He writes as a man, as a Roman and as an emperor who has doubts, questions and who struggles with his existence and attempts to remain stoic in the face of that internal dissonance – both on a philosophical level, and on a simpler human level.

While there is some discussion of his life, this is far from a biography and I have found his writing and perspective to be extremely enlightening and comforting during difficult times.

If I could read only one book for the rest of my life, it might very well be this one.

You can find an online copy here, courtesy of MIT (there is also a link to a text only version).

Amazon also has several different editions available, some of them for very little (I bought this one recently for a couple bucks).

Fighting the Good Fight – Like a Man

It’s uncomfortable, but yesweman is going to talk about race in America. We’re not going to shy away from uncomfortable conversations – that’s cowardice and cowardice is distinctly unmanly.

Also, because I’m such a narcissist we’re gonna talk about me. And you. And as always, being a man.

Why yesweman exists

Across the country I see a sort of dilapidated state of manhood. It frustrates and concerns me to see values like integrity, honor, and courage become more and more scarce in the men around me.

While my take is often lighthearted – sarcastic even – this is always the root concern of this website. I often avoid a more serious discussion of the subject because many other places do so, arguably better than I could.

Being a “man” is sometimes a ridiculous proposition, weighed down by decades of crusty stereotypes and tired clichés. It’s ripe for criticism and humor. However, even after we consider the ridiculousness associated with manliness, it’s still important. It’s important to our families, our communities and our country. Because of this I struggle to identify the correct tone for this place and also for my own views.

That’s one of the main reasons I haven’t posted anything I’ve written since January, I haven’t been able to pin down the best way to approach an issue that has any number of takes and viewpoints. Until recently, that is.

Recent events, specifically those in Charleston, have convinced me of a few things.

First, it’s reaffirmed what we all knew all along – there is a growing shortage of good, strong and honorable men in this country.

Secondly it’s convinced me that I’ll never be satisfied watching on the sidelines as that shortage gets worse year by year. I’ve got to speak my mind on this subject – even if I sound like a dinosaur to some and a “cuck” to others. As a man, I can do no less.

Third, it convinced me that yesweman can and should have the depth to be both humorous and deadly serious at the same time. The absolute cowardice, dishonor, perversion of American ideology, and utter disgrace to manhood that was on display in Charleston is both of those things. It is a deadly, serious, grave concern to see white supremacy and fascist ideology embraced by “American” “men”.

At the same time, watching obese “militiamen” who barely had the stamina to stand in their tacticool gear (let alone fight) and wannabe tough-guys dressed up to look like a Nazi Geek Squad (sorry BestBuy) is also hilarious. I mean, they were ridiculous.

Be a man, not a racist

Yesweman is about being a fucking man. At the end of the day we all have to decide what that means for ourselves – don’t take my word as gospel, nobody elected me pope.

What it means to me though, is that I handle my shit. I take care of the people around me. I fight my own weaknesses and fears, do my damndest to be grateful and give thanks, I strive to show compassion to those around me, to work hard – like a demon, to better myself at every opportunity and adhere to my own personal core values. And eat bacon.

It also means I don’t judge another man, woman or child by the way they look, language they speak, or god(s) they do or do not worship. I don’t look in the mirror and see superiority because my skin is pale – I see room for improvement and nothing else. Above all, I don’t stand by quietly while my fellow Americans face injustice, discrimination, overt hatred and racism. I don’t keep my mouth shut or mind my own business.

Being a man means that I fight the good fight because that’s the right thing to do, the man thing do to.



Profile in manhood – James Harrison

 James Harrison is an outside linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and he is our profile in manhood for the week. Harrison was widely dismissed as being too small and too weak to play linebacker in the NFL and went undrafted in 2002. He spent the next two years being repeatedly cut by both the Steelers and the Ravens practice squads, and was forced to play for a time in NFL Europe. After years of struggling to get picked up by an NFL team, Harrison began to take snaps on field for the Steelers and slowly earned his place with the black and gold.

In 2007, after five years of uncertainty and average play, Harrison’s refusal to quit earned him a starting spot and he had a breakout season. Since then he’s been a five time pro bowler, an NFL defensive player of the year, won two Super Bowl rings and had arguably the most impressive play in Super Bowl history when he intercepted Kurt Warner in the red zone, dodging Cardinals as he ran the ball back 100 yards for a touchdown.

Being cut by multiple teams, Harrison almost quit several times to become a veterinarian – but if he did that he wouldn’t be our profile in manhood for the week. In the end he persevered and proved everyone who had doubted his size and strength wrong. But his professional accomplishments aren’t why he’s worthy of our time all these years later.

In 2013 Harrison was released by the Pittsburgh after he couldn’t agree on a new contract and he spent a year playing for the Cincinnati Bengals before being unceremoniously cut by them. He could possibly have found another team after the 2013 season, but his sons wanted their father to be close to home. Rather than chase more money and continue playing, he announced his plans to retire and signed a one day contract so that he could officially retire as a Pittsburgh Steeler.

Now, a man of his accomplishments would be well justified in feeling ill used by the management of both teams. Football can be a cold business, even to players like Harrison who spend most of ten years with the same organization. But Harrison is an outstanding individual. Just a few months after he officially retired, the Pittsburgh Steelers were in a tough spot. Their once vaunted linebackers were a joke and they had lost several starters to injuries.

Old buddies from the Steelers called him at 4:00am knowing the now retired football player would be wide awake and in the gym. Even during retirement his work ethic put most men to shame. The Steelers needed help, and after asking his family, Harrison would answer the call for near the minimum salary. While no longer able to match his pro-bowl performances of years past, Harrison provided leadership and a spark that had been sorely missing in the Pittsburgh defense for the past several years.

Today, Harrison is creeping up on 40 years of age and is still ready to don his uniform for one more season with his brothers.

His willingness to come to his old team’s aid at a massive discount is worthy of respect, but not why we’re profiling him. The reason we feel he’s worthy of our admiration this week is that after all his contributions the Steelers are paying him far less than what he commanded in the past and he plays anyway. They may cut him this offseason or in camp, but you’ll find him posting workout video after workout video nonetheless. The man will not quit- he knows what he wants and he’s going to take it.

The man is no saint, and there are plenty of people who can attest to his many flaws, his savage hits, his angry and checkered past. But James Harrison is our man of the week because of his legendary work ethic, and his devotion to things that are bigger than himself – his family, and his team. He’s well worthy of being a profile in manhood.