You’ll forgive the clickbaity title, but I mean every word of it. I wish the #MeToo, and as an outgrowth, the #TimesUp movements didn’t exist. Don’t misunderstand; these organized efforts are necessary because someone, many people, in positions of power have abused that privilege and leveraged it to do harm to others. And let’s be clear, it’s often men in positions of influence and power that are using that force to subjugate instead of strengthen. But men weren’t born wanting to do harm to others. I know of no little boy, nor do you, who says, “I want to be a rapist when I grow up.” As much as we want to villanize the Weinsteins and Spaceys of the world, this is a behavior that is learned, encouraged, allowed, and protected. So what’s the solution? How do we as a society grow boys who will become men of honor and integrity?
Why doesn’t American culture have rites of passage for boys? The Maasai of Tanzania and Kenya hunt lion’s, the Aborigine of Australia have their Walkabout, and the Naghol have a little something called Land Diving. Conceptually similar to bungee jumping, land diving is done with vines instead of elastic chords and the objective is to come as close to death as possible. Performed by the Vanuatu people, the jumper’s goal is to brush his head on the ground. If he survives, he’s a man. A very, very lucky man!
It would be dope to travel to Vanautu and land dive with the folks over there. Since I’m on a budget I decided to sneak onto a rooftop in downtown Los Angeles, climb a fire escape and jump from a dangerous distance, as you can see in my blog post pic, I snapped a pic in the throes of death. Happy to report - I made it to the ground in one piece. I’m a man. A very, very lucky man.
We need a new way, a bonafide way, for boys to become dignified gents. Why doesn’t the western world see the necessity of rites of passage for our young men? As our technology advances, can we learn from ancient traditions? Are we humble enough to glean lessons from other cultures? The modern world values education of the mind, but what about educating our soul? We should value the development of our character as much as we value the sharpening of our mind. We should place a high premium on becoming better men and not just more successful men. We should be able to learn from cultures that have a value for ushering their youngsters into the next phase of life; one that requires maturity, wisdom, and deep levels of responsibility. These traditions can teach us the systems that inform our identities and shape our future course as a society. I’m not going to tell you which philosophies to follow, but I am saying that our current framework for masculinity is broken.
In order to live life as it’s intended we must be selfless, we must die to ourselves. Ending the #MeToo movements must begin with this death. We have to be willing to die to our ego driven way of living - because life isn’t about I, it’s about WE, it’s about US.
I am not claiming to have all the answers. I hope to serve as a guide in the conversation. Next week we will tie a rope around our ankles and leap into this discussion. As our heads brush the ground may we be willing to speak openly and candidly, ask difficult questions, and brainstorm solutions. Ready to jump? 1-2-3…