More about why we're here.
As a group, North American men are in trouble – and that trouble has implications for all of society. North American statistics in areas such as suicide, incarceration, violent crime, family custody arrangements, and education consistently demonstrate that more men than women struggle and variously underperform as positive, contributing members of society. Men also exact a disproportionate demand on society’s resources. While males are still generally socialized to be providers, unemployment and underemployment along with a host of other factors is making it harder for many of them to do so, and adaptation is proving elusive for many.
Whether looked at statistically or anecdotally (witness the stereotyped “failure to launch” phenomenon in the millennial generation of the “man-boy” -- the often unemployed or under employed twenty-something year old man who lives in his parents’ basement playing video games), and notwithstanding the reality that boys and men are still privileged over girls and women in a number of ways, increasing numbers of males are opting out, or not “showing up” for life.
There is a less dramatic and equally important flip side to this: the socially responsible, hard-working men who have worked for years and are close to, or have reached, retirement and wonder what comes next. Perhaps they have achieved personal, professional, even financial success, and now find themselves wondering if that is all there is to life, and who they will be without their work. Many of these men have years of health and productivity ahead of them, with life experience and skills to pass on. We need these men to “show up” as well – as elders and mentors, as generative men who give life to the world and the generations that follow them.
Many cultural portrayals of men are no healthier than portrayals of women. And negative stereotypes serve no one in the long run. To a large extent, the spiritual and psychological needs of men of all ages in western culture are not being met. In various ways men are in deep need of healing. Our woundedness leaks out in all sorts of ways from depression, to violence and various forms of acting out, to family breakdown, to young men lacking direction or purpose in a world that can feel way too overwhelming to even bother trying to show up.
Men of all ages have capacities and abilities that are not being called forth in our postmodern age. Much positive masculine energy is not generally encouraged or welcomed. Could it be that the appeal of groups criminal gangs in BC and overseas organizations like ISIS is in part due to the fact that they evoke these qualities, albeit with destructive ends?
Our world is increasingly in need of spiritually and emotionally mature people. We need more “real” adults and fewer people who psychologically and emotionally perform as children who inhabit adult bodies. We need more people who are self-aware and self-less; fewer who are self-absorbed and selfish. We need more people who are grounded, and generative toward the planet, society, and the following generations, people who can one day be elders, and not just elderly. At least 49% of those people should be men.