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Monthly Archives: January 2013

Tools for the Journey – Map

 

As we continue to look at the life of a male from birth to death as a journey, one with its endpoint, hopefully, in the land of the mature masculine, we can see that there are certain tools that are required or make this journey easier. One that certainly helps is the map. 

What are maps? Maps show us where to go, where we could go, and, sometimes, where we ought not go. In new places, maps help guide us and keep us on the right path, or get us back to it when we get lost. Many people rely on GPS now, but I can’t think of a better analogy than a map for that guidance to the mature masculine, and thankfully, unlike explorers of old, we don’t have to create maps for ourselves in our journey to the mature masculine.

In this journey, a map can provide landmarks, letting a male know where he is on his way. Many of these landmarks help to keep us on track, but they also can show danger points to stay away from. Maps fold. They can be put away and ignored if we know (or, sometimes, believe) we’re on the right path. In the same way, we can also unfold the map when we’re lost to get back on track. Maps have been created already; someone before us has blazed the trail and crafted the map for us on our journey. Of course we’re going to stray sometimes, but we are never lost as long as we are willing to consult the map and find those landmarks and locations we need to go through to complete the journey.

Some landmarks that I’ve noted as I continue to think through this map include the village of mentors, the cave of perpetual adolescence, the elder’s bridge, and the land of liminal space. The land of liminal space is the in between area between adolescence and true mature masculinity. Victor Turner discusses liminal space as that time when males have left the comfort zone of what they know and are finding out who they are and how to truly be independent males. This is the region that many college-age males travel, and, sadly, the region that many never find their way out of. In the cave of perpetual adolescence, you find those males who did not separate from their adolescence properly, and are destined to act as children, never realizing their full, mature masculine potential until they do separate and enter the land of liminal space. Of course, the village of mentors provides guides to help us through the land of liminal space. They also sometimes patrol that land to help bring us back on track. Last, but certainly not the final marker in this map, the elder’s bridge is the safe, easy path out of liminal space. Elders, who have already attained the mature masculine, are the only ones who can bring males out of liminal space into that mature masculine. They are the gatekeepers of this final destination and welcomers of all males who attempt the journey.

Because of research on ritual and male rites of passage and development, we know what the map of a male’s journey can look like. We know where the obstacles, pitfalls, and good paths lie and are continually adding to it, even as we experience life. It’s up to us to help young males navigate through the wild to the land of the mature masculine. Each of us, through our own journey, has added to the map. Together, we can create a roadmap for young males and teach them to use it on their way.

To using the maps we’ve developed to help young males reach the land of the mature masculine.

MD

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2013 in Tools for the Journey

 

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Weekend Words – Bad Men

From last weekend’s thoughts on good men, we transition to this weekend’s thoughts on, what else, bad men. Or, rather, what causes some males to act out and be “bad”? And, can we help them overcome this and possibly intercept the becoming “bad” process?

When talking about good men, we focused on both the act and the ethic behind behavior. I’ve already posited that being good at being a man is a somewhat irrational concept, because there is such a broad set of skills that a man can embrace, neither of which is (outside of societal definitions) more manly than the others. So, with the act then, that would lead me to understand that someone who is bad at being a man is just bumbling. He can do things, but really can’t do anything with the excellence that we might expect from him. In the same way, a bad man is also ethically bad. He makes poor moral choices, whether they be lawless or just ethically wrong. His behavior does not reflect or enhance the good of society.

What causes this formation of “bad” men? In general, I am a believer that both nature and nurture contribute to a person’s development, so, there may be instances where chemical imbalances or biological tics may cause this bad-ness. But, mostly, I believe that nurture (or its lack) is at the root. In “Angry Young Men”, Dr. Aaron Kipnis makes the case that many boys can be saved from venturing down the bad road through good parenting, intervention by teachers, and proper role models. From his own experience and experience researching and teaching psychology, he offers that “Boys often emulate their environment as they grow up. They look around them for models of adult behavior.” I think the greatest thing that can be done is to surround all boys, and especially those at risk, with a strong, good male role model. Statistics have shown that most young men who end up in correctional facilities have not had present and active fathers. That’s the first step, and in lieu of that, I’d say that strong, good men can fill the void to a degree.

We must surround our boys with good men. If you’re a good man, and you’re reading this, remember the words of Robert Moore: “If you’re a young man and you’re not being admired by an older man, you’re being hurt.” We can’t hurt our young men; that’s one of the prime reasons they turn “bad”. We need you, every last good, strong male, to step up and serve.

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2013 in Weekend Words

 

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Weekend Words – Good

A few thoughts for you to ponder this weekend. We talk a lot about needing or wanting good men in the world, but what is a good man? Certain people will define a good man as someone that is ‘good at being a man’ – he can carry out society-defined manly activities with excellence and is probably the person you’d want by your side in the event of a nuclear holocaust. Other people will take focus more on the ‘good’ in the question and define a good man as someone that is morally good and pursues the good in society; this focuses more on a man’s inward character.

When I think about a good man, I believe in a definition offered regarding good work by Gardner, Csikszentmihalyi, and Damon in their book, “Good Work”. The book is subtitled “When Excellence and Ethics Meet” and focuses on people whose work shows a combination of excellence and ethical responsibility. I believe the same can be applied to this definition of a good man. He is excellent at being who the man he is; note that this may not mean following the societal definition of manliness, but rather focuses more the DNA of masculinity (to be discussed later). But, in addition to this goodness in what he does, he  is also good in how and why he does something. He is ethical and focused on the societal and moral good in his actions. He considers others and his responsibility to them as he ponders which actions or routes to take. He is good in both his character and his actions.

A good man combines the ideas I mention in the first paragraph. He is good at being a man and has good at heart as he goes about being a man. The world needs more good men who can commit to both excellence and ethics in their lives. I hope you can commit to this.

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2013 in Weekend Words

 

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Tools for the Journey – Compass

The main vision of this site to provide tools for the journey to mature masculinity. The maturation and initiation rites of passage that young men go through really can be seen as steps and markers on his journey to mature masculinity. In thinking about becoming a mature man as a journey, there are several tools a young man needs to make his journey a success. In this and subsequent posts, we will explore some of those tools, including a map, destination, guide, companions, and, this post’s topic, a compass.

The destination gives us a point to aim for, and the map provides an idea of what path to take, but how do you really know if you’re on the right track to that mature masculinity point? One possible measuring tool is the compass.

In this abstract view, the compass serves as both a moral guide and a correcting measure. The compass is an instrument that doesn’t speak, but merely points the way to truth north. In the same way, the compass in this journey points to truth north and helps a man know the right direction to go. Every decision a man may make in his life does one of two things – takes him off the path or guides him further in the right direction. The compass, if calibrated correctly, provides an internal guiding mechanism for the young man as he navigates this journey. It is, in essence, a moral barometer, helping the young man (and ultimately all men) know which paths and decisions are morally correct, and which are not. Properly calibrated, the compass provides timely direction and guidance whenever we glance at it. Thus, our morals and values should always be present when making decisions.

A few things can go wrong when using a compass, all of which can cause problems for the young man on his journey. He can ignore it or forget to use it. This may happen when he believes he knows the way; he might, in which case he will continue on the right path, or he might lose his path in his decision-making. The mature man knows to use his compass frequently, if not all the time, because he knows that his moral center will guide him in the right path.

If the young man does consult his compass, he must also be careful to keep it correctly calibrated. A real compass can be thrown off true north by many things; in the same way, the young man’s compass can be thrown off true north by poor influences who seek to bump or distort the moral beliefs of the young man. This, obviously, will lead to the young man believing he is making a correct decision, when, in reality, he is heading off the path completely.

The compass, then, provides direction for men as they journey. It keeps them on the right path and helps them in their decision-making. A true sign of the mature masculine is that he makes morally responsible decisions. The compass, calibrated and used consistently is the first of many tools a young man can use in his journey to mature masculinity.

To providing men with compasses, calibrated correctly, and helping them use them,

MD

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2013 in Tools for the Journey

 

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Weekend Words – Direction

Males need direction in their lives. They may not ask for it or agree with it, but looking at where a lack of direction has gotten our men (as well as evidence from about 1 million “we’re lost” jokes) offers a different argument. Without direction, we are prone to wander through our lives, knowing there are destinations, but being unable to get to them in an efficient (and to a degree, safe) manner. We take routes down dark alleys, one-way streets, or long detours, all because we didn’t ask for directions.

In a male’s life, this failing to ask for directions or help from those who have been there before keeps him from realizing his potential sooner. It puts him and possibly others in harm’s way. These detours take time away from him becoming and being the man that he can be and serving society as only that man can.

We’ve had enough detours for males. Enough people have taken both the right and wrong routes that they should be able to help. If you’re lost on the journey to masculinity, admit it and find someone that can get you on the right road. If you know the path, help others find it.

We don’t need any more lost boys; we need found men.

MD
 
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Posted by on January 4, 2013 in Weekend Words

 

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The Need for Good Men

I hope we can all agree that the world could use a few more good men. Lord knows, we have enough bad ones. We need good, mature men; men who have been tried and passed through to mature masculinity by elder males in society. Men who know what a man is capable of, both the good and the bad, and who choose to seek out the good in them for the good of society. I believe this is how we can move society forward and halt some of the ills that we continue to fight against. I believe this for two reasons:

Mature men can serve as the solution, not the problem, in many of the areas that still plague women and society.
Which is better, helping someone overcome a problem or causing someone to not be a problem anymore to others? Of course, both are good outcomes, but the latter can slowly eliminate the problem, whereas the former is just a bandage we place on it. I think about sexual assault prevention and women’s pay equality, among other things. These are both areas where good work is being done, but so often, what I see and hear is how to keep something from happening to you – “here’s how to make sure you’re paid what you’re worth, here are safety tips for you and friends”. That just put a lot of pressure on one person to make sure something doesn’t happen to them; it is them, focusing on something, in general, that is outside their locus of control.

Can you imagine a society where those seminars or discussions, while still valuable, are not necessary? Where would that change come from? Men are the ones, primarily, who are sexually assaulting women; so, let’s stop that behavior by introducing them to mature masculinity. Men are the ones in work roles who devalue women and their contributions; what if they truly saw women as their equals and treated them as such? I had a colleague once say that if women ruled the world, none of the problems today would exist. Now, we may not be able to turn the world completely on its head like that, but it does show that these problems stem from men who have not yet achieved full, mature masculinity. This is what “Navigating the Wild” is all about, helping men achieve that full, mature masculinity.

Mature men can develop other mature men.

Obviously, just a few mature men won’t make a huge impact, but one of the callings of the mature man is to raise up other mature men to stand alongside him. This is where the change gets really exciting. The Bible instructs that “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” I use a honing steel to sharpen my kitchen knives, and I know that the quality of the honing steel will ultimately affect the edge I get on my blades. When we have mature men raising up other to stand alongside them, we are sharpening the iron of these men with the best possible iron. They will be ready to stand up and fight against the ills, problems, issues caused by their immature male counterparts. And, they will understand where these almost-men are coming from, because they were once there themselves.

In our society, we have lost the art of initiation and welcoming to mature masculinity. Part of that is due to many different views on what it truly means to be a man. My hope is that men will be empowered to step up and guide others forward, teaching them and initiating them (however that may be) into full, mature masculinity.

To men leaving their boyish ways behind, building each other into maturity, and focusing on eradicating the ills they have been perpetuating,

MD

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2013 in About Men

 

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