I know I’ve been stubborn and, at times, selfish. And I’ve said and done some things that are really stupid. Hurt some really special people. Perhaps I’ve been a little less than human.
In some Darwinian struggle to get ahead, or to better my station in life, I’ve climbed an imaginary ladder. I’m here to tell you that whether its real or imagined, I’ve often felt like life is a competition — and one that I’m losing.
But all is not lost. For as long as I am able to breathe, I believe I can improve. So, today, and each day forward, I am committed to being better. And I want the same for you.
“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man;
true nobility is being superior to your former self.”
― Ernest Hemingway
I don’t know about you, but I crave to be a better version of my former self. It’s a recalculation that I am trying to make daily. So, this is very personal. It comes from a few good years of deep introspection. And if you have the time, I will share more background following the manifesto below.
While this started off as something incredibly personal, I want you to know that it was written with the intention of helping others to have some sort of guide or simple steps they can take to live a more mindful life.
We’re well into 2019. We’ve all been soaked in scandal, mistruths, cajoling and conniving. And we’re inundated with isolationism, divisiveness and racism.
At the same turn, we’ve seen the women in our lives rise up and gain voice. Speaking out against their repression — and more tragically, rape and abuse. And I’m not so ignorant to think that it’s just women who have suffered abuses. But it’s safe to say that women have felt the brunt of it.
While I am — like most people — riddled with self doubt, I harbor an innate sense of positivity that won’t let me lose hope for humanity. The optimist in me says that we’re better than this.
For some balance in life, I want the people in my life (the men, especially) to acknowledge their soft-side. Bring some Yin to the Yang, if you will.
To that end, the following is written in the form of a manifesto. Short one liners that we can use as daily affirmations.
It is my sincerest hope that you or someone you know might benefit from or be inspired by these words. Or perhaps you’d be willing to make any one of these lines a part of your own daily affirmations.
I can’t hold this in any longer, want to get it off my chest, out of my heart and head and into yours.
Time to send it.
Today and every day:
- I will strive to do no harm;
- I strive to remain aware of the ever-flowing stream of constancy and change within all things;
- I will strive to seek personal growth and fulfillment while preferentially valuing communal well-being;
- I will be affirmatively, philosophically, behaviorally feminist;
believing in the radical idea of gender equality;
- I will be affirmatively, philosophically, behaviorally anti-racist;
embracing and celebrating diversity and the richness of multiculturality, and believing in the radical idea of racial equality and cultural wealth;
- I strive to be affirmatively, philosophically, behaviorally non-homophobic and LGBT-affirming;
practicing radical equality and understanding that no one is inherently better or more worthy than anyone else;
- to not equate financial wealth with essential worth;
- to give more than I take, to take only what is needed, and to recognize that what is needed is most typically less than we are led to believe;
- to cultivate humility and reject arrogance;
- I strive to cultivate tolerance, and reject and counter bigotry;
- to not be threatened by others’ strengths;
- neither to engage in unnecessary battles, nor to avoid the necessary ones;
- to seek peaceful, respectful resolution to conflicts;
again, to do no harm;
- I strive to engage in an evolving, expansive, modern definition of strength;
- to recognize compassion and humility as signs of true strength;
- to engage in vigorous, healthy, open-minded debate;
- to ask hard questions, and play devil’s advocate, especially with my own beliefs;
- to engage in ongoing, honest, curious self-reflection;
- to acknowledge my flaws and imperfections, and see mistakes as opportunities for developing wisdom;
- to strive persistently and egolessly;
- I strive to breathe, float, and practice gratitude daily;
- to uplift, and not put down;
- to practice non-attachment to material things;
- to welcome intimacy with and openness to our self and others:
- to unmask my own insecurities
- I strive to engage in non-destructive exploration;
- to seek to achieve, have fun, laugh, love, travel, explore, and learn in ways that do no harm to others;
and when I do cause harm, to limit it as much as possible;
- to be observant of my surroundings and appreciative of the perspective of others;
- to recognize that all are both sifu and student, that the sifu remains the student, and that our teachers are all around us always;
- to honor the ageless wisdom of the elders, and the energy and passion of the neophyte;
- I strive to value curiosity, growth, creativity and art (in its many forms),
- to embrace and celebrate the outsider and the underdog, and basic universal principles, such as honesty, fairness, and respect for all beings;
- to check my own moral compass daily and with each decision;
- to act for the greater good;
- I strive to maintain life-long love for the Earth;
- to protect the planet, and all of its beings;
- to remain respectful, patient and persistent, and flow with grace and amazement to the rhythm and pace of the universe;
- to honor the past, engage actively in the present, always with an eye to the future and what and who comes after;
- to pause, reflect, collaborate, savor, and seek joy;
- to live one breath at a time and to experience each day as a chance and every moment as a choice;
Still and always, I will strive to do no harm.
Background and how I got here
This has taken forever for me to post. And I have to admit I don’t why I’ve kept putting it off. Fearful of criticism I guess.
Definitely haven’t been sure what to title it exactly. Even now, I think that having “Masculinity” in the title might be off-putting to some.
From a few of the people with whom I’ve shared this, I’ve gotten the response that it’s not so much about being “masculine”, but rather it is about being Human.
Regardless, this manifesto came together over four years ago, in collaboration with my mentor, sage guide, amazing therapist, wonderfully good human, and peddler of inspirational line of clothing, Kristopher Martin.
That said, these words aren’t all mine. Kris was my partner in writing this and to him I owe an incredible debt of gratitude. For his active listening, his empathetic and well-considered guidance, and for this manifesto.
I also owe much credit to my mentor and life coach, Robert Mack, who has given me guidance, tools, friendship and love — and a healthy dose of positive psychology to help me build my happiness from the inside out.
I’m not foolish enough to think that the manifesto will shift everyone’s perspective. But it’ll be enough to know that I have even changed one mind with this. At the very least, I do hope that there’s something in here that’ll inspire you to keep improving and striving to be a better human.
About the Author:
Klaus Heesch is a design director whose well-awarded career has spanned industries from Arts & Entertainment to Tourism and Banking/Finance. He is a self-described lover of life, explorer, avid motorcyclist, musician, mindfully masculine martial artist and inner-peace-seeker who has declared his purpose in career and life is to help others foster their own inner happiness.
He lives in New York City with his wife of twenty-one years and their daughter.