Paying attention to issues like white privilege and gay rights and xenophobia – what does this have to do with a being a good man? Everything. Spencer Pennington explains.
“Why is this on GMP?”
“What does THIS have to do with being a good man?”
“Sorry, GMP. You lost me.”
We’ve all seen comments like these on The Good Men Project Facebook page. More often than not, they’re in response to an article dealing with an issue that’s, well, deeper – or at least more provocative – than dating: Articles that delve into issues like white privilege, rape culture, gay rights, transgender equality, and xenophobia. What does paying attention to these issues have to do with being a good man?
Being a good man, or for that matter, a good woman, is about far more than just knowing the right moves to make on a date or how to improve one’s sex life. Having a sense of social consciousness is at the heart of being a good man. If we aren’t going to bother being aware of the world around us and the problems that it’s currently facing, then there will be no path forward for us to create a better world at all. If we choose to be willfully ignorant of suffering and injustice, we can never hope that successive generations will be properly equipped to handle such problems in the future.
An example of the type of good man I’m talking about? My dad. He’s a naturally gifted athlete with more than his fair share of charisma and captures the rugged good looks, confidence, and discipline that come to mind when we think of a great masculine specimen. But those things aren’t what make him a good man. From a young age, my dad exposed me to numerous kinds of spirituality and philosophy; he taught me to always treat everyone, whoever they are, with goodwill and decency; he taught me to stand up for the “little guy” and to be of service to others, especially those who have been mistreated and marginalized. In short, my dad did far more than talk to me about girls or provide me a basis for a love of being physically active – he taught me to be aware of the world, to be socially conscious. That’s what makes him a good man.
Don’t mistake me: I like articles pertaining to romance and other topics just as much as the next guy (or girl), and some of those articles can have truly profound messages of their own. But shouldn’t GMP be about more? About being a good man in all areas of life, instead of just a few?
The Good Men Project is about having a conversation. We’re not all going to agree with each other on every point, and that’s okay. What’s truly unfortunate, though, is the refusal to even engage that some of us seem to have. When people try to discredit the “Black lives matter” movement by merely countering it with “All lives matter,” that’s simply shutting down dialogue and refusing to address the real issue of racial disparity in America. When people react against the use of the term “rape culture” by saying that it doesn’t exist, that completely denies the very real and troubling misogynistic attitudes that not only exist, but seem to be gaining ground, especially on the vastness of the Internet, particularly within certain subcultures (see last year’s “Gamergate” nightmare for an example).
I don’t want anyone reading this to come to the conclusion that I feel superior. I don’t. Like anyone else, I am constantly in need of a change of heart for the better. I continue to work to overcome my own short-sightedness every day and, hopefully, I improve with each effort. Nonetheless, I understand that to witness the light at the end of the tunnel, we must first peer into the darkness, terrifying though it may be, and we must do it together. This is why I love and write for The Good Men Project, because this conversation forces us to be socially conscious people and thus to work for a better world. And that is precisely what being a good man is all about.
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