When you are young, healthy, strong, and perhaps educated or possessed of a stable and loving family, it’s easy to overdevelop the aggressive side of your character. You lift in the gym, watch sports, get loud with your buddies, develop the skill of picking up Anglo-American girls by being a loud and confident knob, and so on. All these things are well and good ingredients of the modern man’s existence, but balance is also important.
I. Towards a Well Rounded Character
We can hardly blame the modern man for his overdeveloped yang and insufficient yin. When you watched GI Joe or read With Fire and Sword1 as a small boy, there were few scenes socializing you to value empathy as a learnable skill that ought to be practiced. Perhaps your father did not have abundant opportunities to demonstrate his soft side in your presence. So it’s easy to view compassion as something not practiced by people like you.
In extreme cases, one might develop a firm belief in one’s own invulnerability and a disregard for the value of soft personality traits. Think of the athletes and fraternity brothers of our Universities and the fast-rising managers of our companies. If this is you, take heed! Anyone who is twenty-two years old and believes that he has nothing to learn from a man with Nazi bullets in his ass is sadly muddled. If the gods have smiled upon you, it behooves you to go forth into the world and soften the blows that fate has landed upon others. From those to whom much has been given, much is expected. And it turns out that this is not an optional element of manhood.
II. A Starting Point
You will significantly deepen your character and perhaps learn something about life by practicing compassion. This is doubly true if you are careful about your practice. Here are some known-good approaches to get you started:
Become involved with a veterans’ organization and volunteer to spend time with elderly or disabled veterans. There will be war stories. Listen carefully to these and ask probing questions. Depending upon the rank of the storyteller, you might learn something about military strategy, tactics, or the exploitation of the working classes as cannon fodder. In any case you will learn something about accomplishing difficult things and grace under pressure.
Volunteer to cuddle kittens at a humane society. Watch the society’s staff and ask yourself why they act the way they do. Alternate assignment: Walk and play with dogs instead of cuddling kittens, and learn to become the leader of a pack of animals without talking. This skill works on dogs, horses, humans, and probably a variety of other critters.
Become involved with a religious organization’s2 outreach efforts for orphaned or vulnerable youth. Childrens’ psychology is very much like many adults’, except that adults are better at deception. Watch carefully when these children are and are not getting what they want. Why are their desires so arranged?
III. Notes on Swag
In general, your modus operandi ought to be the same in every case. Show up, dress smart, have good body language, be polite, carry about you a whiff of competence. Deploy those social skills and listening techniques that you’ve been honing in the office and in bars filled with pretty girls. These things are force multipliers for your presence, because most organizations of this sort are not typically staffed by handsome young fellows; purely by dint of being out of the ordinary, your presence will become especially valuable. And perhaps you’ll remind those veterans of their younger selves.
Which is incidentally a splendid tale of horsemanship, swordplay, comely maidens, and general manly badassery, regardless of your age. There is a reason Sienkiewicz was a best-seller in 20 countries for the better part of a century. Get the abridged version unless you want inadvertent endurance training by carrying it on the train.↩
Bro Kaizen is written by atheists. So we must in good faith (heh) warn you that if you volunteer at religious organizations, they will try to recruit you with a mix of unsubtle social pressure and lightly repurposed stone age mythology. It’s not a deal breaker, and in the vast majority of cases they will be content with your presence alone and not press the issue of your tithes. The only exception might be an outfit like the Mormons, wherein clean-cut young men are not at all scarce and they need your missionary labour more than they need your volunteer hours. ↩