When I saw this picture posted in my stream earlier yesterday, there were plenty of people (okay, mostly men) who took away from the image, the idea that men being more empathetic meant somehow they were not willing to go to work, wanted to sit at home and get high while their women go out and get make money.
What lazy and unimaginative trolling. Why is it a crime when a man wants to interact with his children? Why is it wrong for a man to be tender and supportive? How does this make him less than a heroic individual? Hollywood much?
Who decided the best thing a man could do was to work himself to an early grave under the pretense that his presence was less important than being there for his family? Better to die, worked to death than to be there for your family? Better to die than to learn to clean house, wash a dish, cook a meal, do laundry because those are women’s work?
Losing your job doesn’t have to equal losing your life. The two shouldn’t be given equivalence in any way. Life is life. Work? Yeah, it needs to get done. You don’t live for it, you aren’t bonded to it in any symbiotic way. (Okay, technically we are) but for the sake of this argument, losing your job shouldn’t mean you take your OWN life as if you had nothing to live for.
Do you hear how that sounds? Insane.
As a man who has spent a huge portion of my son’s life in his presence, partially due to his autism, I feel as if a part of who I am would have remained underdeveloped without the experience. I remember how many hours I used to work. I would have seen my son for thirty minutes a day, five days a week. I have had ten times that amount of time. You feel differently about someone when you have that kind of great quality time.
I look at men who have not had the kind of time I have had with my son and feel a bit of pity for the poor bastards.
(No, you fewking troll, I am not saying dads who only get weekend time with their kids don’t love them as much as I do. Geez. The implication was I wonder how many of them would, if they thought they could, cut their work time in half and how much happier many of them might be to spend that time with their family.)
I have begun to suspect much of what is wrong with the world is part of a cycle of men being detached from the next generation, the children they should be raising are instead left to strangers because of the myth of the 100 hour work week leading to fantastic wealth and opportunity.
The truth is less mentioned. Only one of ten thousand working parents will enjoy the benefits of this self-destructive grind. But the other nine thousand children will grow up without parental guidance, love, or understanding.
While one person moves into the next incredible tax bracket, the other nine thousand and nine hundred and ninety-nine of the next generation heads toward therapy, less sure of themselves, less well-grounded, less connected to their parents, and possibly mislead by people hoping to exploit their vulnerabilities.
Our society has altered our male consciousness enough that when men are unable to find work, to find a means to support their families, through no fault of their own, these men end up depressed, unhappy and more often now than ever, suicidal. They feel their contribution to the home MUST be money rather than retooling their minds, their lives and experiences to figure out new ways to contribute to society.
Or to consider that their current/former way of life may be gone forever…And that learning new skills, thinking about the world in new ways is not a sign of weakness. This trend isn’t going to slow. It’s going to continue to be an issue for the foreseeable future.
Why? Automation will continue to drive people from the workforce faster than we can train them. Thus the current model of male behavior is unsustainable.
Men must adapt and if you can’t see yourself doing so, you may end up being part of the other statistics: a man who dies from a heart attack, from hypertension, drug abuse, or suicide due to the depression brought on by society’s self-destructive cocktail of maleness.
The nature of this picture is talking about reclaiming a complete Human experience from a society interested in treating men as disposable; doing work far more dangerous than it has to be, such as coal mining, being injured in sports through debilitating long-term injuries through football or boxing.
This is talking about taking unnecessary risks in dangerous forms of entertainment which their manliness is considered endangered if they won’t risk lifelong injury for the sake of their supposed manhood.
Lives being thrown away in wars for resources or for political reasons which when seen in the light of day are little more than social aggrandizement of violence or cultural expediency. Telling young men to die for religion or for jingoistic foolishness should be the last way we should be expending lives.
If we indeed believe all lives are created equal and they all have the potential to reach the peak of the Human experience then this has nothing to do with staying home and not working. It has to do with the idea men need to consider a more balanced approach to living.
Our current lifestyle is both selfish and self-destructive.
No one is saying men should avoid work or stay at home while women work. This is about deepening our relationship with the inner self, to avoid the lazy machismo presented by our culture as the definitive way for men to behave.
To make men value their lives, their contribution to society as more than how fast they can work themselves to death, how dedicated they are to being exploited and ground into dust for the sake of an economic engine completely uninterested in your well-being.
To help men see they have other choices beyond self or sexual gratification to the exclusion of the humanity of others; to remove rape from the equation of choices that make up interactions between people. To make the idea of consent as reasonable as having cleaning air, clean water, and food to eat.
Men can and need to make other choices. Men can embrace their humanity, sensitivity, mental clarity, and emotional depth as part of their natural birthright. We need to realize that we need to change the nature of the question: What is the most valuable part of the Human experience?
No matter what you have been lead to believe, it isn’t money. Money is a tool, a resource which has been deified, making compassion, love, humanity a pale second.
It is the machismo of modern culture, the demand that men, place their personal honor, pride and belief in their innate superiority which is driving the nation toward greater divides, polarizing our relationships, forcing men into using fear as their weapon to separate people, cultures and pitting us against each other for the greater exploitation of the most destructive forms of capitalism.
We simply have to do better. We have to recognize the destructive cycle of greed, exploitation, manipulation and how if they are not managed and ultimately eradicated we face the end of our civilization, in the space of two perhaps three human lifetimes.
Unlike Humans in the past who thought the end was near, modern humanity has the real capacity to destroy their world while denying their culpability in any way.
When a man realizes the greatest strength he can show is compassion for others, only then is he ready for a family, protect a nation, or save a world.
This post was originally published on the author’s Medium blog and is republished here with his permission.
Photo credit: Pixabay