By Rick Nichols
Most of the old definitions of what it means to be a man are no longer viable. It does not take much to look around and see that the old paradigm is not working anymore. Because of the rapidly approaching confluence of masculine and feminine energies, men are being asked to be more emotionally available in almost all of their relationships. These relationships include everything from family, finance, community, religion, spirituality, sexuality, and yes, even in the workplace.
Here are a couple of very real concerns many men have on this issue:
* Can masculinity and vulnerability exist side by side?
* Can I be emotionally available and maintain my manliness?
AND THE ANSWER IS — AN ABSOLUTE YES!
If we consider some of the men who have been the greatest powers for good in the history of humanity, we will quickly discover that they were strong, powerful men who were also deeply compassionate and emotionally available. Here is a short list of possibly the most well known: Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi, Einstein, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, The Dalai Lama, John Lennon, Bono, and the list goes on. Oh, and please do not forget the ones who are possibly the most important to you—the men in your own personal life that display these qualities in a balanced way. I think you will agree that this is quite an impressive list of role models. To my way of thinking, these are our real “superheroes” and I suspect most of them would not be very good at kicking a football.
Okay, that is them and we is us. Most of us are not superstars, spiritual leaders or crusaders for social justice and planetary healing. We are just regular guys looking for a sense of satisfaction and acceptance in the things we are doing through day-to-day living. Yet more and more there seems to be something missing, something preventing that sense of manly accomplishment. So, what could that missing element be? What is missing in contemporary society that has previously existed in abundance?
For more than 150,000 years, the default cultural assignment for men has been to feed and protect the village. This enormous responsibility required great physical strength, stamina, and a grim determination to defeat any perceived threat to the well-being of home and family. For thousands of generations, we have learned that we must be hard, tough and above all, emotionally fortified in order to assure success for our mission. To this day we are convinced (consciously or unconsciously) that to reveal vulnerability, whether it be physical, mental or emotional, is to guarantee defeat, resulting in the potential annihilation of all we hold dear.
Somewhere in the 1960s, things began to change, gradually at first and then picking up speed with each passing year. We now find ourselves in the second decade of the 21st century. Because of rapidly emerging technologies, economies and global consciousness, survival of the family and community now requires something much more subtle than brute strength and raw courage. It is now critical that we place more emphasis on compassion for others and acceptance of cultural, spiritual and national diversities. We must learn to drop our defences and embrace the reality that we no longer need to take a competitive stance against those who disagree with us.
The greatest challenge we as men have ever faced is now before us. The responsibility for the survival of the global village falls squarely upon our shoulders because the “manliness” that raised us to this advanced level of society could now cause its demise. It will require courage and strength the likes of which we have never had to muster. The time has come to lay aside our armour and our weapons, and to open our hearts and our minds to new ways of being, to new ways of living. Our new mission is to bury the old “manly” archetypes of defend, defeat and control, and to employ a new armoury of harmony, acceptance and allowance. The survival of humankind is in our hands; it is up to us to steadfastly meet the challenge — let us get it done!