I recently came across a NY Times opinion piece titled Men Need Purpose More Than “Respect” by David French. I don’t read opinion pieces often enough to know if I’ve read anything by Mr. French before, but I agreed with the headline, so I dove in.
The article was in response to a viral tweet written by another man I don’t know, conservative podcaster Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog on Twitter) – Which stated:
“All a man wants is to come home from a long day at work to a grateful wife and children who are glad to see him, and dinner cooking on the stove. This is literally all it takes to make a man happy. We are simple. Give us this and you will have given us nearly everything we need.”Matt Walsh
I don’t believe men are that simple. If you don’t have a grateful wife, children, and dinner, you might think that’s all you need, but humans are creative and expansive creatures. There’s always more. Happiness from the same thing day after day quickly wears off.
Many people say that women want love while men want respect. OK, so let’s define respect. Oxford dictionary says
“a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.”
Respect is something we get from others. We can’t control what others think of us or how they treat us. Anything relying on others is on shaky ground, to begin with.
If my self-worth doesn’t come from within, I don’t really have any. If my self-respect requires respect from others, then I have none. I’m chasing the approval and feedback of others. Let people respect you because you have integrity; you are kind, value yourself and others, and make a positive difference in the world.
Demanding respect from others can get you a lot of false respect. People can act as if they respect you to make you go away. The illusion of respect could be rooted in pity or fear.
But if you have a purpose. If you decide your life and actions have meaning – you will be happier. You will radiate joy – that will be noticed, appreciated, and respected.
So while men may say they want respect, they need purpose.
I believe that men who insist that the respect of others is the most important thing don’t have the guts to say what they really want is love.
“Virtuous purpose is worth more than any other person’s conditional and unreliable respect. It is rooted in service and sacrifice, not entitlement. And those qualities bring a degree of meaning and joy far more important than the gifts that others — the “grateful” spouse who cooks dinner, the implausibly reverential children — can ever offer. What we do for others is infinitely more rewarding than what we ask them to do for us.”David French
I could not agree more.
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