These days as we watch the brave men of Ukraine
fight off the Russian invasion
and defend their homes and families,
their courage and relentless commitment astonishes us.
But the battlefield isn’t the only place men do admirable things.
Men do them every day, in their work and in their homes.
Yes, so do women, on all these fronts.
But today let us pause and speak to the men.
Many men have not heard any praise in a long time.
In praise of men
I respect men.
It is very hard to be a man.
I believe it is harder to be a man than to be a woman.
Some women will try to shame you by magnifying your faults while denying their own.
Some will not honor you. They do not see your value.
Seek out those who do!
Seek out those who appreciate you.
I am thankful for your love, your strength, your protection.
I am thankful to you for hauling out of bed every day to go to school, to go to work.
I am thankful that you do your work whatever it takes.
I see your courage.
I see your pain that you keep to yourself so those you love won’t worry.
You may feel you are not needed.
This is not so.
You are very much needed!
You are needed by your families, friends and loved ones.
You are needed by your community, country and world.
You may not have found your way yet.
May not even know what direction you want to go in.
That is OK. You will figure it out.
You will find the courage to discover who you are.
It will be a joy to grow. To build yourself as a man.
You will be happy as you begin to give your best to life.
What is an admirable man?
An admirable man is not necessarily famous, powerful,
highly educated, handsome, sexy or rich.
A man can be all those yet not be admirable at all.
And, he can be admirable without being any of them.
So what is it that makes a man admirable?
His character, his love, and his contribution.
An admirable man is honorable, responsible and loving.
He serves his family, his community and his country,
and makes his best contribution to the world.
The poet Stephen Spender describes the truly great as:
…those who in their lives fought for life, Who wore at their hearts the fire’s centre. Born of the sun, they travelled a short while toward the sun And left the vivid air signed with their honour.
Admirable men are not born with their fine qualities.
They must be built.
The good news is they can be.
I doubt if any of us–you, me, or any of our friends–
woke up this morning and said to ourselves:
“Today, I shall strive to be admirable!”
It sounds like something that a character in a novel
written a hundred years ago might declare.
Indeed, being admirable is an old fashioned goal,
though it was quite familiar to The Greatest Generation
—those who fought and won World War II.
Today, we focus on raising self esteem—
in ourselves, and especially in our children.
We believe that having a positive view of one’s self
is essential to well being and success.
We have chosen to focus on ourselves,
and how we think about ourselves.
Having self esteem is indeed important,
because if we begin with negativity it’s hard to be confident.
But becoming admirable goes well beyond developing self esteem.
It is a larger and a higher goal.
It means to become worthy of the esteem of others, not just yourself.
So, what does it mean to be admirable?
To be admirable is to be responsible.
To hold one’s self to high moral standards.
To be reliable, honest, trustworthy.
To be true.
To have a pure heart.
To be brave.
To be devoted to worthy endeavors.
We become admirable through doing things
that require courage and character.
That require us to grow our capability to do the right thing,
to step up when needed.
Much of our growth takes place in adversity:
when we face loss, defeat, pain, illness, poverty, isolation.
Coming through these times and remaining tender and strong is admirable.
Coming through and then sharing our gifts and strengths
to assist and build others is admirable.
All of us have the potential to become admirable.
Let’s build on our foundation of self esteem.
Let’s respect ourselves so much that we accept nothing less
than living an admirable life.