Shame is at the heart of the issue.
As men, we create so much misery and oppression because we fail to deal with our own grief, anger, and confusion. In a culture where fatherlessness is rampant, I meet so many adolescent males who are constantly bombarded by pathological messages about what it means to be a man. And they have no one to talk about it but themselves, which almost always reinforces the dominant messages. Even those young men who might question this paradigm of “New World Machismo”, or even worse, fail to fit within the paradigm, are ostracized in individual interactions and through societal messages.
Who is talking to these young men about these malignant ideologies of masculinity; ideas that perpetuate an emphasis on physical prowess and the portrayal of women as merely sexual currency? This same ideology also suppresses the very descent from “head to heart” that is needed to face our inner demons. Young boys internalize these ideas, and two things happen: they mask their grief as anger, or their anger as grief. Either way, we continue to fuel a cycle that is destructive to ourselves and anyone who is not like us (women, gays, minorites, disabled, you get the idea) — all to prove to ourselves and each other that this “being a man”.
Not so long ago in some tribal societies, the true warrior was a nurturer; he cherished his family and measured his achievement in the strength of his character and his ability to be emotionally present for his loved ones. In Chicago & elsewhere, so many young men of color believe being a man means that it is okay to shoot someone to resolve personal conflicts and problems.
As a society, we have no problem vilifying these young boys who will eventually become vilify-able men. But who is combating these destructive messages if fathers are absent or even the main propagator of programming?
Men continue to victimize each other without a safe place to talk about fear, hurt, pain, and guilt that comes with being a young man. How do young men feel about having to live up to these ideals of masculinity? Who is actually discussing this intersection of violence, culture, misogyny, and masculinity? As men, we aren’t supposed to feel anything but anger or happiness, so we devalue women’s need to feel their emotions. It has been said that hurt people hurt people. We must truly be hurting inside, because we have caused so much pain globally and across generations.
As men, this is our great “shadow”….we have defiled the true meaning of warrior and turned our hurt against our wives and children. Most men, particularly the most “manly,” misunderstand true definition of warrior, so our own misguided intentions and actions continue to recreate what happened with the Dolphins on many different levels.
True warriors uplift themselves and others by descending into the depths of themselves to face their own ugliness and pain. Men, see your own “stuff”, and rise up from it to uplift and liberate, rather than than oppress and destroy. Talk to each other about working on our hearts. This is the true calling of the warrior.