Most people today would agree that the world desperately needs to see and experience a new kind of masculinity.
Today, men do not need any more exhortations to do better; most of us are already labouring under the heavy load of externally (and internally) imposed values, expectations, stereotypes, and accusations…
I do not mean to suggest that there is no proper use for such things; but if they are put before what matters most, they can enslave the soul, instead of liberate it.
The tough, hairy man of the past, and the sensitive, eco-friendly man of the present — those are but mere representations of the ideologies that only drive the masculine soul deeper into bondage. As a result, few men today are truly free – one needs look no further than the TV screen and the news headlines…
Or the mirror.
Like every product of utopian ideas, the false masculine icons of the past and the present have strands of truth woven into them: it is indeed good for men to be stronger, and it is good for them to be more caring…
But we must beware.
‘’And oftentimes, to win us to our harm, the instruments of darkness tell us truths,’’ said Shakespeare in his dark, bloody Macbeth; and continued:
‘’Win us with honest trifles, to betray’s in deepest consequence.’’
A grave warning indeed – not a mere verse of dead prose, but a call, echoing from within the stone walls and the dark dungeons of the past centuries; a call we must heed, if we want to survive…
Because, more often than not, today as ever before, deception works through good intentions; it speaks to the heart and appeals to its desires and passions – only to betray it later.
We must never forget that Hitler did not force his way to power – he was wanted by his people. We must remember that the most brutal, murderous tyrants in history, used deception long before they reached for the sword. And even after they had revealed their true faces, they were still wanted by many people; they were even ‘loved’ by them.
Not too long ago, as Communism came to power in little Bulgaria, much of its good, hard-working population rejoiced. They put their very lives in the hands of the Party, and believed in its promises for a brighter future…
They believed, even when silent whispers of dark deeds slithered through locked doors at night…
They believed, even when some of their neighbours were arrested and sent to prison or to one of the ‘camps’.
They believed, even when people with clean names and honorable reputations were swallowed up by horrific darkness and their screams were heard only by the faceless shadows gathered around them in deep basements and old buildings.
They rejoiced, even while landowners, scientists, artists, and thinkers, suffered and died at the hands of those who claimed to love ‘the motherland’ and her people.
Yes, it was no Soviet invasion that so darkened the sky above the little sunny Balkan state; when the Red army marched in, they did not come as enemies…
And when the killing began in earnest, it was not Soviet hands that dripped with the innocent blood of so many – it was those who claimed to serve the people, that were destroying them. The sons of the land were dying at the hands of their own brothers.
But how was such monstrosity chosen? And why was it allowed to endure for so long?
Utopia – this is what, I think, lies behind all other reasons. The human heart longs for prosperity and peace; it is our make-up, our deepest desire. And so, well-meaning ideas, by well-meaning people, were wrapped in promises and presented to the people, most of whom, longing for peace, unity, and life with no class-system and no poverty, took the bait and swallowed the lie…
And, even after decades of blood and oppression – even after thousands of brutal examples of the very inequality and injustice they had once fought against – they refused to turn back, refused to see…
Even though they were normal people. Good people. Hard-working people.
More equality, more justice, more unity and peace – is this such a bad thing?
No, but beware. Beware…
For in this world of ours, things are seldom what they seem; and if the innocence of the dove is not joined by the serpent’s craftiness, deception often comes, and does its secret work unseen, in the dark…
* * *
The disturbing events I mentioned above serve as examples of how good ideas and good values can be used or manipulated to serve an evil purpose, if individual thinking, inner sense of calling and purpose, and personal responsibility, are abandoned.
The difference between the unwritten laws that set the external standards of masculinity – strength yesterday, compassion today – and the iron rules of Communism, are only in the amount of blood that is spilled, while people are trying, and failing, to adhere to those dogmas…
Unlike an oppressive political regime, under the unseen oppression which has reigned over men for centuries, death does not happen right away — not externally, at least. Under the yoke of false masculinity — in its traditional or modern form — death mainly happens at the level of the soul; it is the death of joy and freedom, the death of man’s connection with his own true self – the self he once freely enjoyed and expressed, while he was still a little boy…
But for many, the process of death does not stop there.
As I write this, I am tempted to say that, yes, while many have suffered from the harsh rules of the cult of masculinity and its various expressions through the ages, comparing that to Communism would be ridiculous.
I say to myself that i have gone too far, and prepare to erase the whole paragraph.
And then I hesitate, and I stop. And the blood begins to flow…
And I see before me thousands upon thousands of dead bodies: the fatherless young men stabbed to death on the streets of London; the children killed in school-shootings in the States; all the girls and women murdered daily in the Middle East; all the women across the world who have died as victims of domestic violence; all the victims of racism and senseless hate…
And, sadly, that is only the tip of the iceberg…
Terrorism. War. Oppression.
We would be dangerously naïve to assume that the externally-imposed, fabricated faces of masculinity, in all their shapes and forms – have played no part in the blood that has flown, is still flowing, and is yet to flow, under the beautiful blue skies of the planet we call home.
We would be fools to say such a thing. And sooner or later, fools are made to pay for their foolishness.
We need change. And we need it soon.
* * *
Unfortunately, many times when change occurs in the world, it is often external, the replacement of a set of rules with a new one. I believe that, just like our inherent desire for a world of prosperity and peace for all — which are not bad desires at all — we humans also have the tendency to avoid the hardships of personal responsibility, and the toil behind the process of discovery of one’s own unique design, potential, and place in the world.
I think that, when that tendency of avoiding one’s own journey of self-discovery — and all the responsibilities that lay along the way — is not engaged and overcome, it can lead to a lifestyle of compromise. The compromise of one’s true self, might then easily evolve into emotional and spiritual numbness, and quickly fall prey to addictions and compulsions of various kinds; it would then give birth to corruption – and this is in the best case-scenario…
An example of the worst would be a full-scale case of tyranny and oppression — personal, domestic, and political.
Most dictators, it seems to me, appears to have always been elected by groups of people who have suffered greatly in the past, and have, through that suffering, lost something good, vital, and life-giving…
Sometimes, what has been stolen, is their very identity. And a person — or a nation –without belief in itself and hope for a good future, is spiritually dead. Once this death occurs, the existence that still continues in some form, no longer requires great things; it no longer drives one to excel and conquer heights… instead, it craves relief, and longs for ease.
This is what we search for, when we turns to people and systems that offer us the desired ease of life by reducing individual responsibility instead of empowering the individual to discover and develop the unique potential and gifts that all people have.
And so, one tyranny replaces another; Communism replaces Fascism, and the old macho-man god of our fathers is overthrown and replaced by the god who demands obedience through openness, sensitivity, and care – no matter how one might feel.
No matter how one might suffer inside.
* * *
Yet, there is a better way. It is a narrow, rocky path, cut through dark valleys and forbidding mountains…
But it is the only way to true freedom – the only way to true masculinity.
Through years of being alongside men of various ages, and through the pain of my own journey of regaining inner wholeness, I have found that every man has within himself, no matter how deeply buried, a heart – that is to say, an inner self – which is good, and filled with all that the man has ever wanted to be. There is the strength that the insecure men of the past have desperately tried to find in machismo and bar fights; there is the compassion, love, and care – for the fellow humans and the whole planet – that many men of today are so passionate about. In the heart, there is much glory – it has unique expressions of creativity, as well as strength; it has deep wells of wisdom, love, and knowledge of justice – all spoken in the language of that one man, all marked with the fingerprint of that one soul.
But rarely, if ever, are people fully connected to this source of life. Rarely, if ever, are men so healed, that they are one with their heart – the self which they once knew, while it still shone it those first years.
‘’Comfortably numb’’ – overfed, sleepy, and void of passion.
Lost in anger and crime.
Lonely and enslaved by their dark sexual demons.
Corpses that have not yet died, and time-bombs, waiting to explode…
Poor beggars, starving and diseased, while sitting on bags full of gold – this is what we all are; we do not hear the cries of the child within, we do not heed the call of the heart that is not yet dead…
Instead, we run away, and live tragic lives. Too readily we turn from truth and hate the only thing that can make us human – the heart, and all its treasures.
* * *
How then, can we get to those treasures? How can we connect to the source to all that is good, the place where all true masculinity comes from? Where do we find the dark and rocky road, so that we can walk on it?
Unfortunately, the answer that I have found to be true is contained in a single word – a word filled with potency, darkness and horror…
Yes – the doors of our hearts behind which the best treasures are hidden, are shut down and barred, sealed by pain and guarded by horrifying darkness, anger and grief, and self-protection mechanisms – it is a sick, oppressive system, a system many have accepted to be their character, their trie self, their lot in life…
But we must know that, as in the fairy tales, the most precious gold is often guarded by the most hideous monsters – monsters that can be slain.
Monsters that must be slain.
I have found that those men who walk in the direction of their pain are noble; those who endure further and reach the source of their pain are heroic, and those who grit their teeth and press on, all the way to the other side, are transformed.
The men who reach such transformation are not only able to recover their lost strength and courage, but they are also able to embrace the heart of the child they once were – the little boy who had been rejected as weak and unmanly, the young keeper of all the love and compassion that the world today so needs to see in men.
By taking the narrow road, men become boys again – but only if they are willing.
By stooping low, men become raised to unseen heights, as those boys are slowly integrated into the whole being, as they are nurtured and ‘’grow up’’ to finally be the men they wanted to become before they were cut off by rejection, self-hatred, or other forms of trauma and abuse.
True masculinity should come from the heart; the boy inside must be liberated, and embraced by the man who once so hated him — and then be taken on a journey to become a man.
Only then – when every man is no longer divided within himself – will the world rest from hatred and division. Only then – when every man truly knows, loves and values himself – will the world know peace.
But it is pain, that we must desire, and not just an easy way out.
* * *
‘’You need to do better, or you’re not a man!’’ shouts the man of the past and kicks the fallen, wounded boy, in the ribs. ‘’Man up, get up, and keep walking!’’
‘’You are acceptable and good, just as you are,’’ smiles the modern man and extends a hand to the wretched, hurting boy. ‘’You just need to love others as you love yourselves – and what’s not to love? You are perfect!’’
Yes – you are that boy. And so am I.
He does not need the brutal training of manhood – no doubt, it would have helped him if he had been whole, but now it makes his state worse.
He does not need just to be accepted, and be trained into accepting others – not in the state he is in now; he would have naturally been accepting and loving, if he had been whole.
He needs wholeness, and everything else can be added to him later – and everything else will, no doubt, be needed — in different amounts, and in different areas of his life.
But wholeness comes first; the heart comes first.
May all of us men have the courage to face the darkness within, and find the hidden gold, before we look for monsters out there in the world.