SO–What does it mean to be a man in the world today? I asked this question 3-4 years ago because I was concerned that there had been a very unhealthy shift in terms of how we relate to one another as men and women in the world. At that time, as is the same case now, men were struggling to understand what our place was in the world? That struggle continues. What is our role now? What are we supposed to do and be. We seem to be a lightning rod for all that ails the world. Instead of moving to a place where men and women can enjoy the same freedoms, experience the same opportunities we have become more entrenched in the age old arguments that stymied our growth in the first place.
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 at times—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.
Most of us 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 learn and grow. But 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 agree that changes were necessary and continue to be needed. I agree 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 changes 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 mentor and guide 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.
“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, no longer, are 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
This is a re-post of an article I wrote from Nov 7, 2013. The pic is from cinemablend.com. I derive no financial benefit from using this photo in this article. Resource used for education, research or criticism purposes only.