I wrote this article in 2013. At that time I had just released my third book called “A Man’s Work Is Never Done . . . A Novel About Mentoring Our Sons.” My purpose, at that time was to encourage people to look at a growing social issue and, hopefully, to encourage folks to talk about it. Many did just that but many more found it difficult to discuss this issue because they felt like they were, somehow, bad parents if they admitted they recognized some of the things I had mentioned–they felt very uncomfortable. Here we are a couple years later and unfortunately things haven’t improved much if any. But then you be the judge of that by what you see around you and by what you hear on the news casts. This image above is becoming more the norm than the exception and that doesn’t have to be true but we need to begin to correct some basics and I have some ideas around how to do that but it will take some time and a change in adult attitudes.
November 7, 2013
Being a man in the world today means . . .
The other day when I was in town I was just stepping into a store as an elderly woman was making her way out. Of course I stepped to the side, held the door for her and as she made her way past me she said: “It is wonderful to see that there are still some gentlemen left in the world. Thank you.” Well with that she gave me a smile and off she went. I wanted to stop and talk to her about her comment but neither of us seemed to have the time so that opportunity was lost. But it did get me wondering, yet again, about the whole idea of men in the world today and how confusing and frustrating and lost it feels for us—how difficult it is and has been to know who we are now and where or if we fit in anymore. As a result three distinct groups of men have emerged. Those who go along to get along, those who have given up trying to figure it all out and those who are angry and spiteful and violent.
I think we can all agree that the world for both men and women has changed drastically since the end of the war but to what end? At what cost? Oh yes there has been a cost and a very dear one. So who are we now? What are we supposed to be doing? How are we supposed to act? Are we supposed to be different in public then in private? What is our role, not only in our society, but in our homes and families? What was it before and how is it different now? What of our natural and socially ingrained expectations and roles in society? Those are the behavioral cues that we seem to naturally pick up on as we grow. Who and what are we supposed to grow into?
I can say with certainty that over the last two to three generations of males our world has changed at such a pace that it has been difficult to keep up. I don’t disagree that changes were and continue to be needed. I don’t disagree that women need to have an increasing say about the world they live in too. This principle is not in dispute-at least not with me. But if we don’t somehow work toward an egalitarian existence we will not likely survive as a species. I also believe that it is the male of the species that will have the most difficult time making the switch in identity both personal and societal. The rate of change and the ramifications of those changes have not been identified or discussed or even acknowledged in a constructive way.
I have included an excerpt from my book ‘A Man’s Work Is Never Done . . . A Novel About Mentoring Our Sons’ that briefly outlines my thoughts and feelings about how we need to treat and inform the next generation of young men. My hope is that we can dialogue amongst ourselves and see the benefit of working together-as one global village-to ensure the next generation doesn’t experience what the current one has.
Excerpts from ‘A Man’s Work Is Never Done . . . A Novel About Mentoring Our Sons’
“Manhood is about how we feel as men in the world” I said, “and how that shows up in our everyday behaviour and actions. It’s about being true to our socially ingrained roles and the expectations of us that are attached to them. These roles and expectations are, for some, considered to be our driving force. The idea of manhood is not about power and control, but it is about feeling good concerning who we are in the world and how we are responsible to live our lives according to those very principles and ideals.”
“In essence, it is about developing and maintaining a positive sense of self, of who we are, and striving to be who we want to be. But that’s easier said than done.”
“As men we are no longer free to be who we want to be according to our nature; rather we are becoming a composite of what others believe we should be. Our self-esteem as men is and has been under assault by other folks who would see us change into who they would like us to be so that it is easier for them to get along with us.” (Pages 25-26)
That’s how I see it anyway, Jim
+++ Let me know your thoughts concerning what you believe best describes ‘men and their role in today’s world’—what it means to be a man today.