Warriors, Longhairs, Quakers, and Roundheads!
by Ben Stone
Part 1, The Warrior and The Longhair
The odds are, whether you realize it or not, its likely the first thing you’ll notice when you meet a man for the first time. You’ll remember if he’s bald, has a “comb-over”, is “clean-cut”, or “un-kept” and you’ll remember if he’s bearded, has a mustache, wears sideburns, or is “clean-shaven”. Hair will be the first thing you judge when forming that first impression. And whether you like it or not, that initial judgment will almost certainly be based on societal norms dictated to you by the culture you were raised in.
In America even the very terminology we use prejudices our thoughts on the matter. If we meet a man who is clean-cut and clean-shaven do we assume he would be dirty had he not scrapped his face with a blade this morning and visited the barber last week? Is the man who visits the barber every month cleaner by default than the man who doesn’t? Of course not! But as we leave these phrases in our day-to-day lexicon we reinforce this myth of the dirty lazy hairy man, both to others and to ourselves.
I spent years working jobs where, either for safety reasons or for social reasons, I was forced to scrape all or most of the hair from my face and maintain short cranial hair. When the time came in my life that I was free of such burdens I stopped hacking at myself and allowed my head to take its natural shape. By doing so I learned a lot about American culture that I had never noticed before. People reacted to me in ways I had never experienced.
Some people are openly offended by my appearance. Some appear shocked and some actually draw back as if they may catch something from me. Others show fright, while some just seem very uncomfortable. But as is often the case, the most natural reaction comes from children and very old men. On a number of occasions while shopping with my wife, children have run up to me with big smiles as if expecting me to know them by name. Once a little girl, separated from her mother and wandering scared in a store, walked past my wife and actually came right up and took me by the hand with such trust you would think I was in a fireman’s uniform. One may be able to explain it as some kind of Santa Claus related incident, but I really don’t look much at all like Santa, more like a really big Charles Manson. But I think the reaction that surprised me the most was that of really old men. They get a child like smile and if wearing a hat, they quickly “tip” it in a friendly respectful gesture.
This dramatic difference in behavior caused me to step back and consider exactly what it was that I was observing. I came to the conclusion that the feelings the children and the old child-like men were expressing were ancient instinctual leftovers from the days when the alpha male was a large hairy man with a big graying beard and a mane of hair for a halo. In those days such a man would have been the primary protector of a village or a clan. The wise old decision maker for such a tribe may have been an elderly gray haired woman or an old bald man, but the hero, the protector would have stood out like the silverback in a troop of gorillas.
If we accept this assessment of the reaction of the children and the old men, what would explain the reaction from everyone else?
On this I have two thoughts. The first is the development of Western Culture that I will speak on later, but the other thought goes back to those ancient instincts.
Our love and hate of warriors:
First let me point out that warriors of today are far different physically from the warriors that were around as our instincts were developing. Although I fit the physical pattern for a prime warrior of the Stone Age, on a modern battlefield I wouldn’t last the first day. Now that said, humans express odd contradictive feelings toward warriors. The very young and the very old idolize them, but no matter the lip service paid, middle-aged people distrust warriors. Oh, don’t get me wrong. Many middle-aged people love the military folks and will put out great effort to “support the troops”. They may give money to a cause, volunteer their time, or paste stickers on their SUV’s, but often these outward displays can only partly hide the distrust. Husbands are sexually insecure around warriors because they quietly fear the warrior may steal their wife or young daughter. The mother has a similar illogical fear for her children. She may feel the warrior could entice her daughter or she may worry her son will grow up and go off to war, never to return. But the helpless in society, those with pure open hearts and minds not cluttered with the day-to-day hustle, look up at the warrior with loving eyes and trust because it has always been the warrior who looks out for them when everything else in life fails them.
I’ll cover this topic with more information in the upcoming sections on Quakers, and Roundheads, but for now I do need to point out a couple thoughts.
In many ancient cultures some kind of slavery, servitude, or caste system existed. Specifically, in cultures dominated by a State, male hair often played a very important part in identifying slaves and the subservient. Often times only free men were allowed to be armed and sport beards and/or uncut cranial hair. Slaves were forced to shave and be shorn so they could quickly be identified. In many early States, the public cutting of a free man’s hair was a punishment meant to publicly humiliate him for an infraction or offense against the State. Oddly enough, in many States, public hair cutting was the punishment for crimes that fell one notch short of castration. Keeping in mind that male house slaves were often castrated in those days.
Rome stands out in history as the exception to the above. Rome began as a subservient culture to their Etruscan neighbors and therefore all Roman men were shaved and shorn from their earliest days. Once Rome came to its fullness, in a very real sense all Romans were servants of the State. In a way it was the first proto-modern State. I could say a lot more about Rome and male hair but for now I have made the point I wanted to cover.
In a very real way America is the resurrected Rome. Like it or not, every man in America is the property of the State. The American today owns no possession that the State cannot take away at any time with the simple power of a slip of paper.
Deep inside this knowledge grinds at the spirit of the American male, but he submits. He keeps his eyes to the ground and he pulls his load.
On the rare occasion that something catches his eye and he looks up to see a man with a beard and/or full cranial hair, resentment quickly flairs in direct proportion to the amount of hair displayed.
How dare this barbarian, this wild warrior strut around displaying his freedom when we toil and cringe under our master’s whip!