Tonic Masculinity: Tenacity

Penny Lynne Walker, 1946-1980

My mother taught me a lot about tenacity.

I remember her as sweet, mischievous, and funny, but she also had a certain moral toughness that is written into my DNA. She stood up for what was right and she would not back down. Abraham Lincoln said, “Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.” Well, Penny would get a certain set of the jaw, plant her feet, and refuse to budge—especially when she saw injustice affecting innocent people.

And—oh man—was this pert little brunette outspoken when she needed to be! An incident in the grocery store line is etched into my memory. The lady ahead of us was checking out, trying to sneak an item out on the bottom rack of the cart. As the cashier rang up the total, she looked that lady right in the eye and said, so everyone could hear, “You are going to pay for that, aren’t you?!”

Today, we have a shoplifting epidemic so bad that Walmart is considering store closures and price hikes as it grapples with what the company says is historically high theft. Target’s CFO said that shoplifting has jumped about 50% year over year.

There is no such thing as a tenacious coward.

It seems few people do anything to stop this theft, but Penny wouldn’t have tolerated it. That’s probably why, about seven years ago, I tackled a shoplifter in a parking lot and held him down till the police came. The poor security guys were huffing and puffing to catch the guy, so I helped them out.

Before mom died—when I was just ten years old—she wrote a poem where she likened me to one of the straight and strong douglas fir trees of the Willamette Valley of western Oregon, including this stanza:

Fir tree stands through wind and storm

Bends until the rain is past

Ever strong and brave and warm

Springs right back, is sure to last

She knew her boy was going to need to be strong and resilient for all that life would throw at me. Tenacity is not stubbornness. You might say tenacity is to stubbornness as courage is to bravado. The stubborn person is inflexible and resistant to changing their mind. A person with tenacity has the courage, resolution, and moral strength to defy opposition, face danger head-on and endure hardship. There are plenty of stubborn people without the courage and mental strength to stand up for what’s right regardless of the opposition.

If the majority is right, why the hell would they be silent?

There is no such thing as a tenacious coward. And tenacity, like courage, is an indispensable quality for a man to have. Frankly, a male lacking tenacity is not a masculine man. Take it from Mark Twain:

Each of you…must speak. It is a solemn and weighty responsibility and not lightly to be flung aside at the bullying of pulpit, press, government or politician. Each must decide for himself or herself alone what is right and what is wrong, which course is patriotic and which isn’t. You cannot shirk this and be a man; to decide it against your convictions is to be an unqualified and inexcusable traitor. It is traitorous both against yourself and your country. Let men label you as they may, if you alone of all the nation decide one way, and that way be the right way by your convictions of the right, you have done your duty by yourself and by your country, hold up your head for you have nothing to be ashamed of.

Notice how Twain equates a lack of tenacity with treason. Why? Because each of us has a duty to ourselves and our country to stand up for what is right and just, even “if you alone of all the nation decide one way” and all others oppose you. As I like to say, “Right makes might!”

We need the iron qualities that go with true manhood.

I hear people talking about “the silent majority,” and it makes my stomach turn. What do numbers have to do with right and wrong, and if that majority is right, why the hell would they be silent!? The indomitable Samuel Adams said, “It does not take a majority to prevail…but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brush fires of freedom in the minds of men.” Men don’t hide behind the masses of timid observers; they boldly act and speak their convictions!

“We need the iron qualities that go with true manhood,” said Teddy Roosevelt, one of the most tenacious men to ever walk the planet. “We need the positive virtues of resolution, of courage, of indomitable will, of power to do without shrinking the rough work that must always be done.”

I admit I’m a fan of Captain America. He’s the very embodiment of tenacity (“I can do this all day”). In the closing scene of the movie, Avengers Endgame, even with a broken shield and serious battle wounds, Steve Rogers stands alone against the evil hordes of the villain Thanos. He knows he can’t win, yet he cinches up his lacerated arm with his shield strap and moves ahead. This quote is one of my favorites:

Doesn’t matter what the press says. Doesn’t matter what the politicians or the mobs say. Doesn’t matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right. This nation was founded on one principle above all else: The requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences. When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world, “No, YOU move!

Whenever evil men have threatened our freedom, tenacious men have had the grit and grim determination to do what had to be done. Such men led our country to freedom from the British Empire, enduring extreme hardship, suffering, and overwhelming odds. They had the tenacity to march through snow on bloody, rag-wrapped feet, half-starved and disease-ridden, and fight another day. Interepid men faced down tyrants and their dark armies in World War I and II. These men were patriots, and thank God they had what it took to ensure you and I would have a future.

We have a sacred duty to stand up to evil and never back down.

Tenacious men do not stay silent in the face of evil, even if speaking out is to their own detriment. The pen may be mightier than the sword, but the eloquent tongue is a loaded pistol.

I remember talking to Captain America before he died, and he explained what Patriotism meant to him…It wasn’t about blindly supporting your government. It was about knowing what your country could be, what it should be…And trying to lead it there through your example. And holding it accountable when it failed. I remember he said: ‘There’s nothing patriotic about corruption or cover-ups…or defending them. But exposing them, well, that takes a hero.’

The elite—ever and always the bane of honest and hardworking peoples—the globalists, dedicated to culling populations and controlling the lives of all humanity—the Chinese Communist Party, with their 100-year plan to destroy America and grab world hegemony—the loony Left, intent on controlling what you say and do as useful idiots for all the aforementioned authoritarian psychopaths—all of these can be overcome by sheer tenacity. But a self-preserving, cowardly hesitation to call out evil makes the battle much more difficult for those with a heart to do what needs to be done.

I used to wonder why the Bible listed cowardice among the most grievous of sins, but I do not now. “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death,” wrote John in the Book of Revelation. Pretty serious stuff. We have a sacred duty to stand up to evil and never back down.

Tenacity is the courage to stand up, speak out and not stop till true justice is done. It isn’t just a nice quality to have, it is a serious moral obligation that could determine, in our time, whether we rise again to national greatness, or fall as other empires have before us. As Ezekiel wrote more than 2500 years ago,

The people of the land have used oppressions, committed robbery, and mistreated the poor and needy; and they wrongfully oppress the stranger. So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one. Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; and I have recompensed their deeds on their own heads,” says the Lord God.

“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed,” wrote William Faulkner. “If people all over the world…would do this, it would change the earth.”

Will you stand in the gap? Will you make a wall between good and evil?

I hope you will, starting today.



On Key

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