Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The New Man

In a recent meeting of my men’s group, the wisdom that “great people understand themselves” became the catalyst for the start of a deep dialogue about how we men need to change.

In order to understand themselves, great people listen. They develop the tools to put their ego in check. Their gratitude walks out in front of every step they take. They work hard to better themselves and to help others do the same. These people know they must come together with others to learn and grow themselves. Great people can be in any walk of life, any faith, any place on our planet, or any gender.

The conversation that unfolded was the most truthful, frank and direct we ever had. The insights were astounding. And yet we only scratched the surface. Each of us in this group of men covering three generations was ready to go further. The question on the table was “what might The New Man be today?”

Confusion among the Male Ranks
Quite a bit is written about men needing to better balance their masculine and feminine sides. That alone would confuse most men. Not just women, but men also are supposed to be emotionally intelligent. Don’t we all have hearts? The heart senses truth and love. It also can sense the opposite feelings of lies and hatred. I find it no surprise that in the Onionhead ( Dictionary of 150 Emotions for Teens and Adults, the opposite feeling of compassion is “heartlessness”. Neither compassion nor its opposite of heartlessness is reserved from just one gender. Men and women shared these emotions.

Our hearts have some 40,000 neurons – the same stuff of intelligence in the brain. We were born with heart intelligence. That kind of intelligence got programmed or even beaten out of most males at an early age. “Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about!” “Real men don’t cry.” “What are you, a sissy?!” By the age of 10, most boys get the message: if you cry, you are weak and will never be a man. That is complete nonsense (I really wanted to say “crap”).
Many more fathers are participating in raising their children from birth. The role that once belonged to women to raise children has now become mixed. This is a very good change. A nurturing father in the home increases the chances that children will receive the care and guidance they need to become happy and contributing adults. It gives the opportunity to stop the ubiquitous outdated thinking and behaviors that have led to domination and power struggles. However, men nurturing children adds to confusion between the traditional roles of men and women.

As a starting point, any men’s group can begin with the program from Harnessing Happiness called “Keys and Codes to Living Good (www.harnessinghappniess
). The program is used to facilitate change in organizations, provide structure for men’s groups, and assist couples in redefining their relationship. This program teaches wisdoms that humankind has known from the beginning of time, yet has forgotten. It guides us to live a more joyful, loving and respectful life, which is the Key to Self Mastery.

The luxury of a single income family has all but disappeared. Even two income families are starting to look unmanageable across the country. This nation has seen enormous shifts in the rights of all people to have equal opportunity for employment, housing, and financing. Men had a great deal more control over the levers of prosperity before the 1920s. “Control” is a dicey word because by and large it is an illusion. Nevertheless, it has been very difficult for women and minorities to advance and receive the opportunities presented to men.

Our Gender Models are Far Out-of-Date
One challenge today, 90 years later, is that we have not created a new mental model for the roles of men and women. That further confuses how men perceive themselves. It plays havoc with the male ego. The ego doesn’t like to be threatened.

The male ego is protective of its constructed identity to be more dominant and aggressive. To be sure, this plays out in many different ways. Men’s egos drive them to dominate and be dominated. That may not be as much by nature, but instead by nurture. In those same younger years when boys were scolded for having feelings and emotions, the old way of thinking in America was nurtured: the male as the bread-winner, disciplinarian father of two kids, and final authority in the family and community. By nature, men have the ability to be more balanced. Let’s go ahead and call it a better balance of masculine and feminine. But – and here is the real rub -- the male ego has no precedence and no survivable example to rely upon to feel safe with the idea that he needs to embrace his feminine side. Hence, many men feel threatened for new reasons that previous generations have not experienced. It’s not as much swords, spears or bullets from the attacking enemy the make men feel unsafe on any given day. It is more the attack on what is expected of a man today that makes them feel unsafe.

Men do need a new model for their place in society that will quell the ego’s aggressive response. Equally important, there needs to be a more accepted and supportive environment to help men understand and create their place in our emerging world. One such approach is the “support group.” Imagine men’s groups forming across the nation to wrestle with all of these issues. Here, in these groups men can wrestle with their egos, get safely called to the mat, be mutual mentors and share wisdoms.

Here’s a men’s group mantra: Turn off the sports channel -- Turn on your own channel!
Today’s Man Must Live the Four V’s
A new model must be built and then lived to navigate our changing times. By focusing on Vision, Virtues, Victory and Vigilance any man can find his place at home, work and the community. These four V’s can be the foundation for The New Man to emerge today.

Let’s paint a vision of The New Man. He is brain, brawn, heartfelt tears and an authentic spirit. He takes responsibility for understanding himself in order to achieve his own greatness. He is not afraid to admit when he is wrong, be vulnerable, act quickly and responsibly, and be an example for the next generation. The New Man seeks out help and guidance. Men love to achieve and succeed; The New Man puts the focus on succeeding at being a fully conscious person living his goodness… achieving greatness through understanding himself.

Let’s build on a vision of The New Man. We will see him in a new role that looks like this:

Men will fight… fight for the truth. Lies are commonplace and should never be.

Men will protect… protect the innocents. Animals, children and the environment are holding our future.

Men will strive… strive for unity. Divisiveness and selfishness are threatening our survival.

Men will learn… learn to listen. Closed ears and set ways delivered today’s problems.

Men will innovate… innovate for solutions. Accepting the same old way is mindless.

Men will embrace… embrace diversity. No one man has all the answers; answers are found together.

Men will love… love all life. No one is isolated; harming anyone or anything harms everyone.

This is by no means meant to be an all-inclusive vision. As a starting point, it’s pretty wonderful. Imagine more men living this vision. It will change the world instantly.

It’s time for codes of conduct to return to our consciousness and behaviors. With the vision intended, The New Man easily embraces a code of chivalry for our time on Earth now.
Be calm – Never let anger get out of control
Be committed – Never betray the highest good
Be compassionate – Never be cruel
Be clean – Never take up battle for worldly possessions or earthly relationships
Be courageous – Never abandon those who need protection
There are four skills needed to embody this new Code of Chivalry. Think of this Code as “Listening for TLC”.

Listening – consciously and actively hearing; develop understanding of ourselves to be the T-L-C
Truthful – defending another’s honor is based only on truth, not fear or lies
Loving – being heartfelt; feeling for the deepest sense of duty and allegiance
Champion – defending truth and love; valiant, determined, and committed protectionSound lofty or unrealistic? Just think about how poorly things are working today with loss of virtue and integrity. Codifying virtues is going to make the difference between words and true change. Chivalry is not dead; it is just overshadowed by a lack of virtue. Integrity has been lost and can only be restored through honor. That is what living Virtue demands of men.

Men focus on achieving victories. But what are the battles to win in our time? Anything that threatens to take us off the path of achieving the Vision and living the Virtues is a good battle to fight. How do men achieve that kind of victory?

An ancient wisdom says in order to achieve victory, one must be willing to:
annihilate ego, kill desires, multiply devotion, and make the truth clear.

With everything that is shifting and transforming today, we know that a man’s place in our world is being redefined. Simply protecting the male ego or continuing a dominating way of life must be transmuted. Men’s egos have been battered. That may be a good thing. No change comes out of complacency. No victory comes out of inaction either. So, the first battle is with our egos.

Too much aggression to fulfill desires hasn’t solved the problems we are dealing with today. The “conquering gene” has consumed Earth’s resources and created a world where domination over others would appear to be the real law. Killing desires means putting the greater needs outside ourselves as the priority. If we live in a place where there is no clean water or threat to our safety every day then solving those issues obviously takes precedent. But even in those dire conditions that do exist still on our planet, selfishness and conquering desires must be eliminated. In the developed world, the desires that drive frivolous consumption and a feeling of being in control are the battleground.

Where is the devotion to protect innocents (animals, children or environment)? Where is the devotion to understand ourselves? Devotion has been turned into consumption. Devotion has been minimized to the point that it is insignificant to personal gain and inflated egos. Many today feel that devotion has been used to manipulate people and in too many cases they are right. Devotion is lost when a personal agenda becomes more important than either a greater purpose or Higher Power. The twenty-something generation has been labeled the Golden Generation for their pursuit of “bling” -- living beyond their means and focusing on instant gratification. Frankly, that sounds a lot like most generations who have had a very easy life thanks to the preceding generations that secured our freedom at great personal cost. Where is our gratitude for that level of devotion? When devotion to just satisfying personal needs is the priority, there is where we need to fight a battle.

The truth has all but disappeared. Or, at least the truth has become so elusive that it might as well have vanished. How do we fight a battle for truth? When we step away from the truth, our integrity is in question. Our soul does not separate itself from anything we think, say or do. Integrity is our greatest protection because preservation of our character becomes unthreatened. Behaving integrally leaves us feeling guiltless. Our conscience is free, untethered and unencumbered. We have it in our hearts to know the truth at all times. But, we have become too desensitized to listen to the most intelligent sense we have – heart intelligence. The battle for truth begins with keeping our heart pure and remaining in touch with our soul conscience.

It now appears that true victory is achieved first within ourselves. However, there is no way to achieve that kind of victory by ourselves. Ego, desires, lacking devotion and distorted truth are the greatest battles we will ever fight. This is where men’s groups can have a profound impact. Where else can men have the space to honestly create new thinking to achieve the greatest victory of our time?

Men must strongly take up the role to protect the innocents of our world. Animals, children and the environment are at the mercy of us adults who make decisions every day that affect them. Too many of our decisions affect them negatively.

Children are dying, being sold into slavery and pornography, and being left without the care and discipline they need to develop into the next generations of adults. Being vigilant means finding where this is happening and doing something about it.

Animals are a critical balance to nature. They are a critical part of Man’s connection to Earth. Mindless killing and abuse of animals is cutting us off from the balanced flow of life that is meant to be. Animals that nourish us need to be consciously honored for their role in sustaining us. But, poor treatment of livestock from birth to butcher remains a serious issue. Domesticated animals that live with us as companions and pets need to receive our gratitude and care. But, unwanted and abused pets are being euthanized in massive numbers across the country.

The environment has received a great deal of attention. We are finally becoming conscious of the impact humans are having on the planet. And yet, still today too few people recycle, re-use or find natural alternatives to products that pollute. Countries like China continue policies and practices that massively pollute land, water, and air. Nations don’t create pollution, people do. Man-made national boundaries are irrelevant to Mother Earth. We have only just begun the work to find balance with nature.

The innocent children, animals and environment need men to take right action… now, not tomorrow. Vigilance is a consciousness followed instantly by action to do what is right.
Our Happiness is Connected to Our Goodness!
Humans were born with an innate goodness. When we work to understand ourselves and our connection with everything around us, then we are living our greatness. Every small step we take individually towards a better life is a large step for all of mankind. Every time we come together to change together, the large step becomes a movement.

A men’s group movement is urgently needed. The chaotic times we are living through are far too difficult and confusing to understand on our own. The high stakes mean that we all need to think out of our comfort zone. Our time now on Earth requires a greater level of unity and conscious cooperation than ever before. And the world needs much more of men in order to create the world we want.

Lane Michel


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