The world is in great peril largely at the hands of a very broken collective male psyche. This is not hyperbole, the wake up calls around us are resounding. We live in a world of destructive power struggles, unsustainable consumption, mass injustice, poisoning of our environment at a global level, endemic isolation and loneliness, and harm to the most vulnerable be it marginalized people, the poor, the weak or creatures of the earth. I submit this catastrophic situation exists largely as a result of men suffering huge losses to their wholeness and integrity. This broken state of men is presented as normal, as the way a man is, as what masculinity looks like. Masculinity is defined as being strong, free from emotions, competitive with a mandate to win, competency with no tolerance for weakness. Masculinity is defined as a preferred, superior state over being feminine. Masculinity is defined as dominance, control, and order.
The current model of masculinity shuns vast aspects of men's sacred humanness. Boys are taught to not cry. Boys are told creativity, art and flowers are what "girls do." Boys are taught they are better than girls. These shunned parts and destructive stories get tossed into a dungeon of sorts creating a destructive male shadow. The shadow of our psyche, either individual or collective, is a place where split off parts of ourselves exist unknown to our waking awareness, but certainly not dormant. These outcasts in the shadow will insist on recognition in one form or another. The unhealthy expression of these outcasts leaks out as insecurity perhaps masked as bullying, sexual predation, addictions, lack of empathy and many other harmful ways. The resulting unconscious, walking wounded boys in men's bodies seek control and start consuming to feed deep seated hungers and emptiness. Men operate in a "zero sum" game, your gain is my loss. A sense of connection, relationship to each other, relationship to the earth and interdependence does not exist in this current model of masculinity as these are "woman things" and are weak.
We, men and women, have been ripped off. The man blueprint we have been taught is a shockingly hollow shell of what men were intended to be. Men are emotionally and spiritually crippled, metaphorically hopping around on one leg, lashing out or pathetically retreating for reasons they don't even know.
We have a desperate need to redefine what it means to be a man, to redefine masculinity. A great grief cry is emerging from the sustained harm and a response to that cry is also blessedly emerging, A new masculinity is emerging which will replace the deformed and damaged version of masculinity we inherited.
So what does this new masculinity look like? Ah, this is the joy and privilege being offered to us now, to engage in the conversation, look deep into our psyche's shadows, retrieve what was lost, repair the damage with our sisters and bring wholeness back into the world.
In no particular order, the new masculinity will have the following characteristics.
We must forge a New Masculinity, for our children, our ancestors, our community, our humanity, These are exciting times, the time has come, the time is now.
I honor the community builders, the people among us who respond to the soul call for belonging and welcome rather than hatred and divide. There is a great cry for connection and compassion as an alternative to the current culture's bankrupt worship of fear and violence.
I received a text from my son's high school letting me know they conducted a lock down drill yesterday morning. I understand preparing for an emergency such as an earthquake drill, tornado drill, fire drill, but when did lock down drills become a regular part of school life? When did the threat of campus violence become such a possibility that preparing for that event became part of our day to day experience?
What does preparing for the possibility of someone on your school campus with a gun ready to shot you do to the formation of a young psyche? Is this the world we want for our children? A world of fear and hiding. Locking ourselves down because danger, real or imagined, lurks about?
What root factors give rise to such violence?
Conversations and soap boxes on this topic launch into gun control, mental illness, first person shooter video indoctrination, broken homes, and on and on.
I would suggest campus shootings, and the larger culture of violence we experience arise from an anger, despair and alienation based on a fundamental break or rupture in the fabric of our connection and belonging. Connection to our own beautiful essence, to each other, to a sense of place, to community and to the greater ecology of creation. At root, an alienation from the secure sense we matter and we have a home here.
This rupture in belonging, being wanted, knowing we are welcome tears at our soul, wounds us to the core, creating a horrific angry "ouch". This anger can either go internally into depression, despair and withdrawal or externally with assault words and actions or to assault weapons aimed at the perceived source of the pain. These assault weapons are not limited to headline grabbing AK-47s on campuses, but also include knives and penises in rapes, excavators in strip mines, and Big Macs washed down with Coke. We are assaulting ourselves with addictions, trying to numb the pain with food abuse, drug abuse, information abuse, gossip abuse. We are assaulting easy targets, women, children, immigrants, people different than ourselves. We are assaulting nature through unrestrained extraction and pollution. All in a blind response to feeling tragically displaced in our own home.
When we no longer have a sense of the other as kindred to ourselves, when we no longer experience our belonging to our core, a black emptiness starts prowling, harming ourselves, those around us and the Earth who sustains us all.
So I honor the community builders. The ones among us who realize we all need each other, we all need to belong and belonging includes the very Earth we walk upon.
"We are all related" from the Lakota phrase, "Mitakuye Oyasin." May it be so, for us and our children's sake. We don't need lock down drills, we need to wake up.
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Jose Enciso is an engineer by profession, a poet by necessity and a seeker of spirit and soul. He brings a gentle presence and deep respect for the interior journey as expressed through creative and expressive arts. Jose is a skilled group facilitator who is committed to the spiritual and psychological growth of those around him. He trained under Francis Weller to lead men’s initiation groups doing deep soul work and is equally comfortable in managing complex technical projects. Jose is devoted to the emergence of the divine feminine, supporting women and men claiming their voice and power, and rediscovering the soul of masculinity. He is currently working on multiple projects including a book which seeks to encourage everyone to write their own poetry as a discovery of their own soul's truth.