Friday, March 3, 2017

The Happy Curmudgeon: A Man Provides

“Happy is the man…”

Via: Youtube (“A Man Provides”)

I have been watching “Breaking Bad,” an AMC TV series, with my teenage son on Netflix. I know that this was a popular American series, and at first I watched it for the benefit of my son, but now I am enjoying it immensely. The acting and writing is top-notch. For those who have no knowledge of the series, a modern morality play, Wikipedia provides an excellent summary:
It tells the story of Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a struggling high school chemistry teacher diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. Together with his former student Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), White turns to a life of crime, producing and selling crystallized methamphetamine to secure his family's financial future before he dies, while navigating the dangers of the criminal world. The title is from a Southern colloquialism meaning to "raise hell". Breaking Bad is set and was filmed in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
In “Breaking Bad: Más” (Season 3:5; April 2010), approximately mid-way through the series, a drug kingpin (Gus Fring) tries to convince a chemist (Walter White) to work for him by appealing to his sense of manhood and his duty as a parent:
Gus Fring: What does a man do Walter? A man provides for his family.
Gus Fring: When you have children, you will always have family. they will always be your priority, your responsibility. And a man, a man provides. And he does it even when he’s not appreciated, or respected, or even loved. He simply bears up and he does it. Because he’s a man.
Leaving aside the illegal nature of the business, what Gus says is true; it is also true that men will understand (and acknowledge) this more than women, chiefly because there are a few things more important to a man’s sense of worth and well-being than working and in being a good provider to his family. This is not saying that women don’t enjoy working, but that men need to work to view themselves as worthy, credible and respectful members of society.

Another way of seeing this is look at what happens in places when the unemployment rate for men rises. It is about a steady paycheck and what this represents for men: a sense of self and purpose as well as dignity (from Latin: dignitatem or worthiness). It might be hard to believe that so much good can come about from men gainfully employed, yet it can and does. Such is the record of human history.

One can argue against this, but you will have a hard time convincing most men that they are wrong on this count. Call it human biology or cultural conditioning, it matters not. Neither does belittling the chief argument of why a man must provide. A man who is not working and not providing for his family is a man who is not only unproductive but also unhappy, often to the point of being miserable. Society is better off and more stable when a great majority of its men are employed. Men then have a secure and stable place in society.

Yes, some things are both simple and true.

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