January 28th, 2024

Lately I've been reading Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa. It's a book about the life of Miyamoto Musashi, from his childhood all the way into adulthood. You might even consider it more of an epic than simply a book. I learned something about Musashi that no other source talks about: his exposure to philosophy. I always wondered exactly what set Musashi apart from the rest of society at the time. How was he so much better at fighting than everyone he dueled? What exposed him to philosophy? What brought him to appreciate the arts? It seems that during his younger years Musashi was a troubled boy. The people of his village viewed him more as a wild animal than a human, and he acted as such, living in the woods and eating anything he could find. At around 17, Musashi met a monk named Takuan Soho. Historically Takuan Soho was very well connected throughout the samurai world and was a highly skilled practictioner of Zen. Takuan, through various methods, taught Musashi how to fear death, and after that, how to appreciate life. Musashi was locked in a cell for three years with access to nothing but the castle's books. In that dark cell lit only by a lantern, Musashi studied for three years, the most impactful of his studies being Sun Tzu's Art of War. By the time his three years was up, Musashi was 20 and re-entered the world a new man.

I feel that many young men, myself included, resonate with Musashi's story on a deeply personal level. Early on they believe themselves to be invincible, doing whatever they please for their own sake and paying no attention to others. To those that are lucky, something happens, dragging them violently into the reality that they've never paid any attention to. Those less fortunate never experience such an event, and are trapped for their entire lives in adolescent cinicism. I get the sense that there is a significant amount of people my age out there who have just been pulled into reality, yet we live in such an age of loneliness and isolation that we are unable to walk the path of growth together. Some lose their way, some give up before they've made it through, and so only a small portion truly make it. I wish there was a way to gather these men together, so that we don't have to walk the path alone. I long for a sense of fraternity, a word which I've only recently learned the true meaning of. It's no surprise to me though. Our society demonizes all forms of masculinity, and thus, the concept of fraternity is associated with oppression. Surely only an oppressive class would want to gather its members to increase its strength? At least that's what post-modern western society tells us.

I hope that someday soon I'm able to gather the young men of this generation together so that we can combine our strengths, practice our skills, and strengthen our weaknesses. Throughout all of history, young men have been the true drivers of change. A class of women may seize power through gossiping and publicly shaming, and may maintain that power through sneaky and underhanded methods, but who led the revolution against the British Empire? Who united all of western Europe under a single empire? Who conquered most of east Asia? Who charted the seas and created maps of the world that we could use to navigate it? Young men. The canned response to this is to claim that women were never given the opportunity to do such things because of the "oppressive patriarchy" holding back their true potential, but it is undeniable fact that men are genetically designed to take up such responsibilities, while women have evolved to ensure that the next generation is well prepared to do it all over again. I, for one, am done believing that my natural masculine urges are a problem, or that I need to suppress who I am because it's "problematic". It is our job, as the young men of this generation, to become strong and wise and lead this world back into prosperity.