In the Lakota language there is a great word: wicha (pronounced wichha), which means 'complete man.' It is a word that is distinct from wichasa which simply means 'man.' The word wicha is used to distinguish great men, like the great Oglala leader Crazy Horse. A wicha, or complete man, is a man who is virtuous and wise on the inside, but also a man who takes care of his business and acts with fearlessness and kindness and honor in his life. ---- From 'Backbone' by David H. Wagner
I debated in my mind how to approach the subject of "Wicha" with a modern audience for some time.
Approaching any topic that involved a gender role in modern society is a touchy subject that can lead to much debate.
I finally settled on this idea: Men and women can be different and still be equal. There is nothing wrong with celebrating those differences and attempting to understand our roles and positions that, maybe aren't so much dictated, but bestowed upon us.
So what is a 'complete man' today? In Crazy Horse's time, it meant to be a fearless warrior, a great hunter and provider, a man who is in touch with the spiritual essence of life, who does right by his family and his tribe.
Today's world would seem a foreign place to someone from Crazy Horse's tribe.
We live in an era of vast communication, yet we are the most isolated people to exist in the history of the planet. We've replaced tribal/town gatherings with cherry picked messages from our virtual community.
We live in a time where information and knowledge lies at our finger tips, yet we (as a people, as a whole) cling to our ignorance like a badge of honor. In days long past, that ignorance would have been forgivable, as the information wasn't easily accessible. Now, it's a cardinal sin.
We live in an age of great abundance. But people within the 'wealthiest tribe' on the planet still go hungry, still go without proper clothes, still go without hope. Our meat is soullessly collected in corporate slaughter houses and rushed to the local grocer full of pain and chemicals. Our fruits and vegetables are gathered by large machines and the earth, which lovingly provides us with it's bounty, is raped in the process.
We live as a culture of victims. Not that we can't defend ourselves, though that is often the case, but we accept these terms as "the way it is." Corporations are always going to do whatever they want. The rich will always be able to make a fortune off the back of the poor. So on and so forth.
That is why it is necessary to reaffirm a belief in wicha. To strive for those values that makes one 'the Complete Man.'
This is (some of) my ideas of what makes a modern day wicha.
- He has an eye to the future, a mind on the present and his heart in the past
- The complete man must be present in the moment he is in. He must give his mind to the task at hand. He will give respect to those he is speaking to, his full attention to the job he is performing and self reflect in the appropriate time. But he must also be aware of how the present will affect the future. He must be diligent in ensuring that his (and each person/thing he is responsible for) future is protected, And during all of that, he must maintain respect to the past. Those who have come before him and sacrificed. The earth and each victory and defeat he has endured.
- He must embrace the duality in life
- Just as the great spirit created the world in twos (mother earth and father sky, male and female, plants and animals) the complete man must be adept in embracing the duality in life. He must be able to hunt and fish but also be able to create art. He must be skilled in battle (figurative and literal) and also be a man of great faith. He must embrace his masculinity but also accept the feminine power of the women in his life to build himself and those around him. The complete man understands the importance of embracing this idea.
- He must defend and honor his values but maintain an open-mind to learning
- The complete man, as previously discussed, must be a man of faith. He must honor and defend those values when times become difficult or when a threat emerges. But he must not close off his mind to learning. Much learning is given to man though the will of the creator. The creator can use other people, nature, books and even signs to attempt to reach someone to impart needed knowledge. Maintaining a willingness to listen is the most important attribute of the complete man.
- He must focus on the importance of family
- This is an ideal that I believe stretches throughout nearly every belief system on the planet. That doesn't mean it shouldn't be addressed. The complete man will put the needs of the family before his. He will make decisions that will benefit his family over decisions that are due to his wants and desires.
- He must give back to his community
- There are gifts that the creator has given us all. It is because of his willingness to give us these gifts that we are obligated to share them with our people. Singers should sing for their people. Painters should create art. Hunters (upon ensuring their families are well fed) should donate meat to a less fortunate family. Though our tribal sense is different from the days of old, we can still be an important part of our communities through volunteering and service.
- He must be adapt at using technology, but not dependent on it
- A complete man must know how to use technology to his benefit while not harming the earth or others. He must use technology as a tool but also maintain balance with the traditions of the past that created a world in which those tools became possible. Using a gas-powered tiller is acceptable so long as the practitioner knows how to hoe the earth as his ancestors did.
The list will surely continue to grow as I add more things on my personal journey. But I recommend every person come up with their own list to keep themselves motivated and true to their beliefs.
If you think of anything else a modern day 'Complete Man' need be, feel free to comment.