Last night I was hanging with some buddies, and we were talking activities and sports. We started equating certain sports with being “alpha”…the word many young guys use to calibrate what’s manly. As I was laughing and joining in, it hit me how judgmental I was acting. Is football a more “manly” sport than golf? Who makes that distinction? It compelled me to research “alpha,” a term derived from animal interactions. Alphas are dominant animals that get their pick of mates and food. One animal that has been used to define alpha is the gray wolf.
According to Wikipedia, the gray wolf has “highly advanced expressive behavior.” The wolf is an “apex predator,” a “social animal” and travels with a “nuclear family,” remaining in a monogamous relationship through life.
“Although some wolves are solitary”
Something about the “lone wolf” hit me. I’ve been the lone wolf. It took me back to high school, and I remembered my sophomore year when I felt intensely alone, and completely separated from the pack. I read books by philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, and found justification for my aloneness. However, we were all created to be like wolves. In nature, the lone wolf is rare. Men were created to roam in packs.
I believe the fight for equality has nothing to do with politics. It has everything to do with the need each one of us has to belong. This is nothing new. Charles H. Spurgeon said,
In order to have fellowship with any man, there must be a concord of heart. ‘Can two walk together unless they be agreed?’ At the very bottom of fellowship there must be a likeness; we must have like wishes, like desires; we must have espoused like ends, and our spirits must be welded together in the intention to effect like purposes.
Men desperately need to incubate in a group of men. It’s the only way one can become a better man. College fraternities were formed in the 1800’s to nurture solid men. While stereotypes linger, if you were to read the manual for each fraternity, they would all point towards building character.
As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
You become sharper through close friendship, through a pack….and alpha terminology isn’t helping anyone.
The lone wolf “may be stronger, more aggressive and far more dangerous than the average wolf,” but when it comes down to it, the lone wolf is not equipped for hunting and has to settle for smaller prey. Do you have a dream that just seems too big to carry out on your own? Maybe it’s time you join a pack, or maybe start a pack of your own.
It turns out, alpha hierarchy has only been observed among gray wolves in captivity, but may not apply to wolves in the wild. Could it be alpha culture only arises when men are in a captivated and weakened state? A state of skinny jeans, fakes tans, and Instagram posts? If so, shouldn’t we seek to be wild men where judgmental alpha terminology is no longer needed?