It’s important to examine the ROLES that men are playing which is, it seems to me, is what happening.
- Should men be ok with changing diapers?
- Should men be ok with women as warriors?
- Are women in leadership roles desirable?
Sure. No arguement from me. But that really wasn’t my question.
I’m asking you to examine not the role but the creature and it seems to me that whether we are talking about Plato, or Socrates or Julius Caesar or a peasant farmer in feudal Europe, or Hannibal or a Zulu tribesman, the structure of man remains consistent. We learn now just as we learned thousands of years ago. As my old friend Joey Manos once said, “ya gotta wanna” it goes without saying that if you don’t wanna, you certainly ain’t gonna. At least when it comes to changing your mind.
Let me expand the thought.
Human beings, like all animals, learn from experience. We are, essentially, self programming organic machines. Some of that programming is genetic and some is experiential. You are not born with the knowledge of how to tie your shoelaces or turn a door handle. We learn these thing like any other animal. Repetition. Body memory. Practice. Successful strategy gets locked into programming and becomes automatic reflex. Very, very useful survival tool at the physical level.
The problem is our capacity.
We have much better memory and recall than any other critter on the planet. We also have the ability to EXAMINE our thoughts and that’s the guts of my question because we learn emotional responses the same way we learn to tie our shoe laces. My dad yelled at me when I was three and I crawled under a table to avoid being hit. It worked. Next time I did it again and it worked. It soon became automatic response BECAUSE it worked. Accidental programming for survival. Useful at age three. Not so much at age thirty three when your boss yells at you and you mentally crawl under the table. As a child I made the decision based on what information I had at the time. Garbage in, garbage out. Standing my ground might have been a better decision or it might have seen me beaten to a pulp.
So we’re born by accident (most of us weren’t planned, we just happened) we‘re raised by accident (most of our parents were clueless about being effective teachers of children) and we live by accident until the day comes that we decide to live on purpose. For much of humanity that day never comes. Some things we learn well and some things we’re beyond clueless about.
Regardless, we continue to make the same stupid mistakes.
We have programmed ourselves to be this way. It’s How we’re made. The good news is that you’re powerful enough to change your mind. The bad news is that you really gotta wanna and before we ever decide that we wanna, most of us need a two by four upside the head to get our attention. That’s why I asked the question. Humanity has been stumbling along accidentally for centuries with the occasional spark of awareness while being capable of so much more. That’s why we’re here right? To examine the lies we tell ourselves? To test for truth? To be better fathers, lovers, better brothers, stronger leaders and wiser elders?
Ok. So how did we get here?
Why is the worlds smartest animal sometimes (regularly and often?), dumb as a bag of hammers? How did my emotions become the elephant in the room that no one (especially the women I love and the men I call my brothers) wants to talk about? When did my emotional self, which is at least half of my identity as a man, atrophy into its current stunted state? And even knowing the answers to those questions, what can I do to become whole? You’ll notice the context changed from we to I and that’s because although the problem is US, the solution is ME. Nothing you say or do can fill the holes in my soul.
That’s my job. My pain and my joy. From deepest sorrow comes the greatest love and so I’ve chosen to embrace the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. To thank the IS for every stumbling block that’s teaching me to dance and thereby nurture that atrophied part of me and become whole.
Fluffy language. Vague, empty platitudes…if it’s so easy why isn’t everyone doing it? The answer, of course, is everyone IS doing it. Mostly by accident, unstructured, random trial and error with the occasional win. BUT (behold the underlying truth) it doesn’t have to be that way and that brings me back to where I started. Programming!
The subtle, perhaps insidious, programming that starts in the womb and ends in the grave or perhaps never, depending on how I choose to view it. The weeds and blossoms of my inner garden. The programming that became my motivation, my actions and my interactions. My map of the society in which I live. My labels. Useful pigeon holes. THINGS I HAVE CONTROL OVER. What the NLP (Neuro-linguistic-programming) community calls Meta Programs.
The behaviours I’ve learned so well that they run on autopilot.
The decisions I made during my programming years that became ME. Just like the decisions you made that became you. Not right or wrong but definitely different and being able to see that also lets me understand that you’re not doing x, y or z just to piss me off but because that’s how you see the world. It’s your map of the territory and it defines the roles you choose to play in society. At least the voluntary ones. If I ask you when you first decided changing diapers was an ok thing for men to do, you might have an answer. If I ask you when you decided to be heterosexual, you might not. Some things are genetic and some things are decisions. I’m not going to argue against genetics but decisions can be examined and changed any time we choose.
The roles of men are being redefined and before we can embrace the changes I think it’s necessary to understand how we got here in the first place.
Three things to remember:
1 Outside the box of right and wrong is the universe of possibilities
2 What you feed …grows.
3 You gotta wanna.
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