Growing Men Commentary, issue 2
Many, many years ago I ran the Youth affairs Council of Tasmania, a non-government peak body and was involved in the bizarre world of lobbying, organising, protest and compromise that comes with that kind of work. Then, I believed that the way to fight for change was to work with the structures of our society. Eventually, I became disillusioned with the cynicism and hypocrisy of our political system (the answers to many social problems are reasonably clear but even though politicians know what they are they will not act). Like many others I started thinking in terms of changing people not the system and the first person to work on was myself, for as Joseph Campbell said, “The vital person vitalises.”
If we are to take our place as mature men in this world we must somehow stand up and fight for change both within and without, yet how do we do this? How do we understand the way in which the lives of ourselves, our loved ones and our community are being manipulated by forces that we cannot even see? A tiny and almost untouchable group of people (mostly white males) control the wealth and resources of the world and seem largely disinterested in the consequences of their actions for ordinary people. Steven Kermode’s article outlines a grim analysis of just what those consequences are for Australian men.
Power is at issue here, the power to be wise men in a world that wants us to stay ignorant, the power to explore our masculine spirit and rediscover its positive energies, the power to grasp the bigger picture and see how it touches our everyday lives and then decide what we want to do about it – and then do it. There is something powerful beginning to emerge. The American 50s Christian Anarchist revolutionary Saul Alinsky claimed revolution starts in the middle classes, as they are in a position to see both ends of the spectrum. The English politician Tony Benn argues that the only way that ordinary people have been able to make headway is through organising. Somehow we must learn to make exciting again the idea of equality and genuine democracy, compromise, rights, freedom with responsibility, generosity not selfishness. We can’t trust our politicians to do it, for as John Ralston Saul points out they have sold out to the corporate interests who now truly set the agenda for our society.
“How do I translate this to action in my everyday life?” It’s a question for all of us but I think especially for men, as we seem to be floundering to rediscover our purpose. I see signs of a gentle men’s revolution everywhere. I spent years fighting political fights and then decided to change myself in the new-found belief that from my own growth change spreads – I still believe it, and it is I think, our great hope – that by men finally confronting the personal pain of being alive and finding their depth and strength within it, they will influence others until it eventually changes the world. In the following articles lies evidence that this might be true. Are we in time? I don’t know but I feel hope! Enjoy.
Published in byronchild/Kindred, issue 2, June 02