The other day our General Manager (I am not sure if she would want me to name her) carried a bouquet of flowers through the office. As I do, I said, “I have never seen any man in the company ever given flowers”.
That was kind of silly because I am actually, possibly the only man that the company has given flowers to, 7 years ago when I was in hospital. I had forgotten about that at the time.
A few hours later, the GM re-appeared, this time carrying a bunch of red Gerberas, one for each male member of the team. Attached to each flower a personal note of gratitude for the unique gift that the member of staff brought to the company.
This was stunning, perhaps the most courageous piece of management that I have ever witnessed. An example, a story that I will hold to for a very long time.
As I write this bog, on the wall in front of me here at home, I have posters of Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly Checklist For Giving Engaged Feedback and her Daring Leadership Manifesto (find them here: https://brenebrown.com/downloads/)
From these posters, I paraphrase some of the most pertinent and my favourite statements:
We want to take risks, embrace our vulnerabilities and be courageous
We ask that you engage with us, show up beside us
We ask that you show up, let yourself be seen and be courageous. Dare greatly with us.
Model the vulnerability and openness that you expect to see from us.
This was an example of truely daring leadership.
But maybe even more fascinating to me was the re-action of the men recieving the flowers. The awkwardness, in some cases the suspicion. Men struggling to know, to understand what this act of apparent love, of caring and of kindness meant. How to re-act and how to even say thank you.
We have so much to learn. Not only could many men learn from their female leaders and peers how to be vulnerable, we could also learn a great deal about true courage.
I have been deliberately quiet here for a long time. I needed to stop and to listen.
I heard a whisper, the faint sound of change. The faint sound of resolution. And when I was silent, then I heard it. It was there, it is there: acceptance and forgiveness.
And that is when I began to recognise a familiar pattern to what was happening in this whole feminism / masculinity debate. This awakening.
It is the stages of grief, 5 or 7 it doesnt really matter:
It turns out that this is how some many of these things happen. They follow the sequence. We need to go through each stage before we can move onto another and that is why I am so hopeful about this whole gender role discussion that the world is having.
Sure, it got ugly at times and it will get ugly again, but eventually we will find forgiveness and acceptance.
We will have done the bargaining and the jostling and the testing and we will redefine how the genders work. We will know so much more than we knew when we began and we will learn to love again.
I have faith in humanity. We will reconcile our differences. We always have done, always do, eventually.
In the meantime lets just keep on talking. No more denial, no more anger and no more blame.
Photo by Vera Arsic on Pexels.com
Its hard to imagine that any toddler boy would aspire to a life of abuse and addiction. That he might want to grow up to become a rapist or a murderer.
But it happens.
What must change?
What must we change?
What should you change?
What can I change?
I can change.
Photo by Emir Kaan Okutan on Pexels.com
I have struggled with this post for a very long time. You see the more I discuss issues around masculinity, the more I read, write and listen. The more I observe the feminist movement. Whether it be racism, sexism, oppression, political ideal, religion or any other cause, I have become convinced that we humans really have no idea of what we are doing. We simply do not understand human nature enough to be able to put things right without having an adverse impact on others and we probably never will.
At the very least a fight will create a new divide among us, between us. A new category of people to blame, persecute or fight for.
Worst of all because of the very human nature that we share, history has shown that the very act of taking up a cause will corrupt us.
It requires that we take on a fight that we simply must win. But to what lengths are we willing to go in order to ensure victory? How far are we willing to push the boundaries of our moral being? Are we willing to make such a sacrifice that we will willing violate our own values in the name of the cause?
What price is too great to pay?
Fighting for a cause requires that we see the bad in others. That they be wrong in order that we be right.
And what about fame? In order to fight for our cause we must ensure that we get noticed. It is all a part of the fight. Some among us are willing to give up our privacy our personal freedoms in the name of a cause but how many of us are truly immune to the corruptions of fame?
So, if the issues are too vast for us to comprehend let alone deal with and our very nature as humans makes us almost certainly corruptible, how are we to ensure fairness for all human beings?
Goodness. Focus only on being good to all people. Focus on doing good things, small things. Understand that we are not just inherently good, that we are also inherently bad. We are corruptible and given to pride. Being good requires a constant effort to do good things, to think good thoughts. But we cannot be good to others until we agree to be good to ourselves.
Work at bringing out the human goodness in yourself and you will become good to others. They in turn will be good to you.
It is time to give up the fight. Fights are divisive. We are all humans. We have all been wronged, we have all done wrong.
Forgive yourself and have a good day. It requires just a little effort.
I wish you happiness!
Guante is one of my favourite spoken word poets.
This is an excerpt:
She doesn’t say it but I see it in her movements
A gentle hesitance whenever we’re in tune with
The rhythm of each other’s music, it must be
She loves me but knows she can’t trust me
‘cause she was hurt by one who looks like me
And it wasn’t me but see I still might be
Deep underneath my beliefs
Not so different from him as I’d like to believe and it’s frightening
Tightening my throat I choke and die
On the culture I was molded by
And made strong by, and made silent by
And made cold as a heart made violent I
See something subtle in her face
Physically intimate still but a struggle to relate
On a deeper level, I guess people never learn:
You ain’t got to start the fire to burn, we all burn…
Why are we “reduced to tears?”
Why is it that we “break down” to cry? listen to the language
We’re livin’ in a matrix designed
To disconnect men from the pain that’s inside
Power, control, importance and performance
We give up freedom and more just to enforce it
And of course it’s, little more than a role to play
But we play it so willingly
Like every man is granted invincibility
But that which gives me power, slowly is killin’ me
Vengeance can never be better than prevention
And what her ex did is unforgivable
But when you punish the criminal
And refuse to take a critical look at the culture that shaped him
And your own role in that culture
You’re not really innocent, I’m not really innocent, face it…
Mental or physical abuse is unacceptable under any circumstance.
Domestic violence has to be stopped. Male vs female abuse has to stop. Female vs male abuse has to stop.
I don’t want to debate which gender is the worst nor which gender suffers the most.
Provocateurs, of any gender, are a part of the problem. Perhaps as big a part of the problem as the abusers.
It is not okay to provoke someone or to give-up your personal responsibility to keep yourself safe and then cry victim when you get hurt.
It is not okay to hang out with a ‘wrong’ crowd and expect to feel safe and protected. You have no ‘rights’ to feel safe if you are not willing to take even the most basic of steps to protect yourself.
It is not okay to somehow expect that everyone around you stay perfectly in control of themselves in order to afford you protection when you cannot always predict what you might do. We surprise and disappoint ourselves with our own behaviour and yet we expect that we can act as we wish and that no one else does.
It is not okay to provoke someone that you know has anger problems.
It is not okay to provoke someone that struggles to express their feelings .
It is not okay to provoke someone who is feeling overwhelmed or scared.
It is not okay to provoke someone who is feeling trapped and on the verge of “losing it”.
It is not okay to provoke someone and then mock them for a ‘weak’ response.
It is not okay to use put-down humour.
It is not okay to deliberately provoke someone by targeting a weakness, something that you know they struggle with, struggle to control.
It is not okay and it is not humane.
I really do try hard to see the good in everyone. I have to believe it to be true but as I watch the accusations being thrown around gender issues and how people seem to need to find someone to blame, someone to punish, sometimes it is hard to believe that some people are good at all.
Maybe they are good but are simply miserable. I don’t know.
I want to hold onto the ideals of compassion and forgiveness. I need to believe that no one was ever born wanting to hurt another human being.
That is why I cling onto the ideals expressed in Charlie Chaplin’s speech from ‘The Great Dictator movie.
It just gives me hope.
Men and some women are standing up for men, acknowledging that not all men are bad, in fact that the majority of men are good.
I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that all men are good. All men and all women.
“We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness – not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone …
… You are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts! You don’t hate! Only the unloved hate – the unloved and the unnatural!”
Charlie Chaplin from The Great Dictator
I will never argue that the injustices visited upon women as a result of the behaviour of men is in any way justified, but the Patriarchal system that we live in or under has not worked out well for men either.
Fewer than 1.5% of men will ever rise to a position of power or influence. Will rise to head a major company or corporation. Will become a Social, Politician or Military leader. For the other 98.5% of men, reality can be very different.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone – if possible … “
Charlie Chaplin from The Great Dictator
What is it that leads men too perform the atrocities that they do?
What brings some men (and some women) to abuse their power and influence over another person may not be the same reason that some men will take up a life of crime, will drop out of school, abuse drugs and alcohol, take stupid risks, but it is symptomatic of the same problem.
” – victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people.”
Charlie Chaplin from The Great Dictator
If men have all of the privilege and power, why do they act the way that they do?