The Soul of a Man

Jose Vilson Jose 3 Comments

Bellevue Hospital, Between the Layers

The entryways of the remodeled Bellevue Hospital come at incoming patients and visitors in layers akin to the human body: the new glass-and-metal facade presents the first layer before encountering a marble and stone arch around the tunnel leading to elevators, an photo gallery, and eventually, the emergency room. The first layer hosts visitors communicating on their cell phones and security guards, with gateways color-coded like the subways we New Yorkers live with daily. As one walks directly into the tunnel and into the emergency room, we are reminded that it’s an established hospital, full of the aches, rumbles, and off-white walls we trust will be there anytime we visit the hospital.

In there, children cry for their mothers, the elderly wheeze in an unsettling tempo, and grown boys brace the responsibilities of manhood.

Where people often mistake manhood is in places like the hospital. We still ask men not to emote, and treat illness as a sign of debilitating (and ignorable) weakness, whether the person injured is a stranger or a loved one. The perception of what men do in those situations and the actions that make a real man in these situations resembles the gap between many fathers and their sons. While we teach our young boys callousness, we ought to teach them more actionable and empathetic steps towards others, and, when the time is right, each other.

Underneath the glow of many of our young and budding men lies a soul in need of fortification. We shouldn’t measure the strength of real men by the inches of their biceps, the altitude of their leaps, or the depth of their voices. We can, however, do so with the size of their hearts, the depth of the steps they take in life, and the growth they encourage within themselves and others. I don’t require that all men go through hardship to become real men, but these situations inject the marble and granite time tested for the manhood of which I speak.

The soul of a man is a combination of these things, and it speaks to us loudly …

Jose, who is off to ATL tomorrow …

About Jose Vilson

José Luis Vilson is a math educator, blogger, speaker, and activist. For more of my writing, buy my book This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, on sale now.

Comments 3

  1. teachermrw

    Amen, my brother.

    I asked a friend how he defines what it is to be a man. He responded by asking *me* a question: “Do you really want to know my answer?” I said, “Yes, of course!” So, he continued by saying that stepping up to take care of his daughter, and to become the custodial parent, is his example.

  2. Post
    Author
    Jose

    Thanks so much for the comment, ma’m. It’s a testament to the need for us to find a better definition / characteristic of “man” where there often is none.

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