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On the State of Masculinity: A Letter Reflecting on Strength, Emotional Intelligence and Creativity in Men

Some thoughts about moving towards a more integrated form of masculinity. One that is strong and flexible, emotional and capable, critical and creative.

Masculinity is no relic from a bygone era—it's a critical force in the modern world

This entry is another from my “tough conversations with the opposition” series.

The only thing that’s turned out to be “tough” about these conversations is getting past my initial doubt—all hypothetical, all “in my head”—that we’ll be able to connect at all. I am finding that I have much more in common with these folks that I thought.

As I’ve said before, most of us want to get to the same place (ie, equality amongst men and women, life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness), but we have different ideas about how to get there.

The true power of a pluralistic society goes deeper than racial diversity, sexual diversity, and economic diversity.

The hard line between us and the rest of the animal kingdom is our cognitive diversity—how we think about things, the values that we hold dear, moral judgements, etc. And what humanizes us is our ability moderate these differences as they arise in ourselves and in our communities.

More than anything, these conversations have been a gift to myself. I am clarifying my thinking, expanding my worldview, and becoming more comfortable in my own skin.

So, my thanks to “the opposition” who are further and further from my enemy every day.

I founded and facilitate a men’s group (3 guys + myself) on a bi-weekly basis. That “men are too soft” is one of my big takeaways from that work. I have so much to say about this, but it sounds like you and I are on the same page here.

My sense is that this is not only where MOST of us fall short, it is where Trump falls short. He’s masquerading. Just like most of us.

When a man can’t occasionally wash the dishes or wipe a baby’s butt and not feel like he’s losing something something core to himself, that’s a sign of weakness. Not physically, but emotionally.

An example from my life.

My grandfather was strong and had many things going for him on the masculinity front but, for all the time I spent with him, I can say this: he was one of the moodiest people (man or woman) that I’ve ever known. And, in his younger days, he was brittle—he could snap at any given second.

And, like Trump, sometimes this brittle moodiness passed for masculinity.

Confucius said, “The green reed which bends in the wind is stronger than the mighty oak which breaks in a storm.”

This is the poise that men need to strive for.

After much much work, I have overcome the brittle moodiness that I learned from the underdeveloped men in my life. And now I can focus on serving, creating value, being creative, developing the skills needed to be a real protector, and living a fantastic life that is attractive and inspiring to the people around me.

As a result, I end up leading by example, not by a carrot and a stick.

Trump is not a physically-emotionally integrated protector/provider. Trump is our reality TV president.

I don’t want to throw my grandfather under the bus. He is perhaps single-handedly responsible for my poetry habit. He was outspoken, an Irishman who took a stand, fought during World War II in Papua New Guinea, and raised an amazing family.

For all of his faults and virtues, he is my hero.

Image credit is The Fountain of Neptune in Florence, Italy, photographer unknown.