The Philosophy of Beards, published in 1880, wisely concluded that ‘the absence of a beard is usually a sign of physical and moral weakness’. No knowledge acquired by mankind in the time that has elapsed since would seem to disprove the theory.
God has a fine beard… if you are so inclined to believe. And we are made in his image no less. Jesus too, had his beard unceremoniously tugged and pulled at shortly before those beastly Roman’s pinned him to the cross for sedition. Salvador Dali had a particularly splendid one. Confucius. Aristotle. Galileo. Karl Marx. Che. Socrates. Charlemagne. Dionysus. Zeus. Mohammed (Orthodox Muslims swear by the beard of the prophet). Darwin. Abe Lincoln. Einstein. Lao Tsu. Sean Connery. John Devoy. Chuck Norris. George Clooney. Yosemite Sam. Jack Sparrow. The Dude Lebowski. Gandalf. Papa Smurf. Brian Blessed. Uncle Jessie. Aragorn and Ben Affleck, the Academy Award winner.
The contribution to the history of mankind from the boyish, soft skinned saps seated across the hairy divide is negligible. Hardly surprising when viewed together as a group. Charles Edward Stewart. Lepidus. Richard Cromwell. Edward II. Warren G. Harding. Kim Jong-un. Margaret Thatcher. John Boehner. Justin Bieber. Ashton Kutcher. Christiano Ronaldo. Zac Efron. One Direction. Frodo Baggins and Ben Affleck, the guy in Gigli.
The beard is not merely a convenient device by which women may seek out virility – the canny reader will have noticed that all the bearded men appearing on this page are viewed in profile or with eyes closed to reduce the risk of unwanted pregnancy – or identify the most intelligent person in the room (It is well documented that in the midst of a crisis, human beings instinctively flock to the nearest bearded man for guidance and reassurance). Beards offer great advantages to those with the ability to grow one, besides empowering the owner with the ability to light campfires with a steely gaze, guide lost souls out of the wilderness by following the subtle micro-twitching of their whiskers and slap Grizzlies across the face with impunity.
It has been irrefutably demonstrated that the growing of a beard is also good for one’s health and I will argue, benefits greatly a nation’s ability to manage it’s affairs.
A ruggedly handsome face protects against sun damage and skin cancer, according to a study from the University of Southern Queensland, published in the journal Radiation Protection Dosimetry. Researchers found that skin covered by beards on average had a third less exposure to harmful UV rays compared with hair-free areas. Their results showed beards offered 90 to 95 per cent protection against the sun, depending on length of hair.
That’s not all. Not only do beards help to reduce the risk of skin cancer, they also help to slow down the ageing process by keeping the skin moisturised. Beards protect against harsh winds and cold air which dries out the skin. Furthermore, for those of us who do moisturise (what do you mean you don’t?), beards ensure the skin remains moisturised for longer.
Even the presence of hair follicles can help, along with the sebaceous glands in the skin that coat the hair in protective oils as anywhere hair follicles and oil glands are present, the skin is thicker.
Beards reduce asthma and allergy symptoms by trapping and filtering allergens near the nose and reduce infections caused by bacterial infections in the shaving area as well as negating the risk of razor rash, ingrown hairs and folliculitis.
Finally, beards help to stave off illness by raising the temperature around the sensitive neck area, knowledge that might have benefitted the clean shaven William Henry Harrison, 9th President of the United States whose pitiful reign lasted all of 30 days after contracting pneumonia during his inauguration.
More importantly still however, the beard is a call to arms. It is a singular act of defiance as opposed to the open admission of mediocrity and acquiescence to the status quo suggested by shaving. The proliferation of unshaven faces in Dáil Éireann ought to be illustration of that enough. Indeed, while parliamentary gender quotas continue to divide opinion both in Ireland and abroad, far more beneficial beard quotas ought to be de rigeur. A representative Dáil composed of 50 per cent women and 50 per cent beards would resolve much of the country’s problems at a swoop (it goes without saying, the ‘bearded benches’ would be arranged perpendicularly to reduce the risk of unwanted pregnancy).
When Scotland goes to the polls next year to decide for herself whether to embrace self determination or surrender to fear and continued subservience we must hope that the bowing, baby faced bairns remain indoors and leave such decisions to the facially hirsute among us who recognise opportunity and do not run from it.
I leave you with the words of Wallace himself…
We come here with no peaceful intent, but ready for battle, determined to avenge our wrongs and set our country free. Let your masters come and attack us: we are ready to meet them, beard to beard.
Andrew S. Loveland’s, ‘The Sound of Abundance of Rain’, can be purchased from the Kindle store here.