Why are Men so Violent?

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As I write this, another shooter in the U.S. is being cast as someone who was “descending into madness”. This man is older than other shooters we’ve seen recently—and he had plenty of money too. So we wonder, what was his motive?

We naturally want to understand what causes a person to create a plan and then carry out that plan to open fire on a public crowd of strangers with an automatic weapon. If we can understand, perhaps these events can be prevented.

Hearing the term “mental illness” (to explain the cause of the event) will satisfy some Americans. Others will say it’s a problem of too many guns. And many will go no further to understand the root of the issue. However, if we don’t understand the root cause of such violence, we’ll be putting band-aids on a wound that requires much more. Read More

A Seat at the Table

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In a world where demonizing and scapegoating are all too common, what role might an emerging process for criminal justice play? In this essay, I explore the overlap of my personal experience with something called Restorative Justice.

Earlier in my career, in an unfortunate series of events, I experienced going from being respected as a high-performing employee to being isolated like a criminal.

A key client of the company I worked for had become upset about our inadequate level of service and threatened to cut our contract with them. This meant that my employer would have been facing the decision of who to lay-off in order to balance lower income with staff wages. The client didn’t leave, but my company’s leaders were concerned, and understandably so. Read More

How Humans Become Monsters

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As our culture becomes more polarized, it becomes more tempting to label those who disagree with us as “monsters.” But what do we really mean when we say someone is being monstrous? And how willing are we to see our own monstrous tendencies?

To explore this, I’m going to go where monsters originally came from: the land of storytelling.

In the book The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories, Christopher Booker lays out his theory that the core purpose of stories is to help humans learn to release the grip of an overactive ego.

Let’s look at how this is so in stories that adhere to this original purpose… Read More

Looking Where You Want to Go

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With all we find disagreeable in the world, it’s tempting to only push against what we DON’T want while forgetting what it is we DO want. Our efforts can become just about blaming others instead of focusing on what we want to create.

In this essay, I share some personal experiences about making a shift from focusing on what I don’t want to focusing on what I do want. These learnings are crucial for us all in this age of polarization.

When I first started snowboarding I was terrible. I used to live on the east coast where snow and ice are often the same thing. In other words, falling hurt—especially when I landed on my butt. I was so focused on avoiding going straight down the slopes because I’d pick up too much speed and lose control.

That’s where my attention went: avoid going straight down the hill. And yet it kept happening.

Read More

Taking Off the 1-Dimensional Glasses

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The divisive mindset is one that puts people into groups in our minds and either condemns them or praises them for simply being in those groups. This is not a mindset that is unique to any one group right now—it is rampant among, and within, all of us.

For this reason, I write to the individual who is disturbed by divisiveness. I write to offer them support in understanding how to shift that very thinking within themselves so they can be in greater integrity when seeking to find common ground with others around them.

During the 2016 U.S. presidential election, I saw countless failed attempts online trying to coax a Trump or Clinton supporter away from their chosen candidate.

If you were one of those people, this article is for you.

Read More

Resisting Hate

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As I explore demonizing in myself and others, I have noticed an odd phenomena occurring in conversations, especially those of a political nature. I notice my own tendency to condemn hate that I have witnessed in a political figure, which is followed by my own version of hate for that very figure. In essence, I become a contradiction: Their hate is bad, mine is justified.

I recently elaborated these thoughts below, intended to confront this contradiction in the reader. Unlike most of my writing, this article’s perspective is less about sharing my own experience, and more inviting others to check in with their own. I hope you find it illuminating for your own self-awareness and self-understanding.

As long as hate is misunderstood and mis-rewarded as a sign of strength, it will continue.

And as long as we as individuals meet hate in the world with our own hate, it will continue around us.

We can tell ourselves that our hate is justified when intended to squash a hate we consider unjustified. This is a form of blind righteousness.

When you see what appears to be the harbinger of hate, your first impulse might be to hate MORE in return, as if to overcome the hate you disagree with. As if hate is a power that accomplishes useful ends on its own, which it never has been. Read More

Engaging with Mainstream News without Getting Overwhelmed

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As a business, news media needs our attention. The most expedient way to get attention is to feature violence, which they often do. So if we want to keep up with news reports, how do we engage without getting overwhelmed by what we’re exposed to?

SOURCE: Meta Center (alternatives to violence) Conference Call About Engaging with News:
http://mettacenter.org/podcast/silver-lining-conference-call-podcast/

PS: The beginning of my recording got cut off. I was saying, “As a business,…”

The Last Thing I Need is Another Set of Rules on “How to be a Man”

Posted by | Articles & Videos, Gender Expectations, my articles | 3,601 Comments

"I'm afraid"

There had been some discussion on elephant journal about what it takes to be men or women in relationships.

Like this article, (which starts with, “If I am going act like a goddess, I want a man who acts like a god.”) and this retort (“If I’m going to act like a god, I require a woman who acts like a goddess”). Both are a set of rules from one sex to the other.

It’s like watching a game of tag, and reminds me of times in my relationships where I would barter with, “Well, I could be that way, but first you have to be this way.”

I wanted to take this conversation deeper. Read More

Is Ending the War Between the Sexes Too Boring?

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"I'm fine"

I’d like to talk about the myth of gender and how we’re not yet ready to end the war between the sexes.

Joseph Campbell calls myth, “an expression of the human imagination… reflecting the influences of a specific social environment.”

The myth in the case of gender is just that. A set of imagined roles that males, females, and others should play in our society.

Any time you hear someone say, “a ‘real man‘ would ____” or “she’s barely a ‘woman,’ look at her ____” that’s the myth of gender being expressed—i.e. who we believe men and women are supposed to be, simply because they are male or female.

Ready for the kicker?

While our imaginations hold this myth that men and women are so very different, we’ve actually been very keen on proving ourselves right by seeking out those differences.

Read More

Why I’m not a ‘Real Man’ and Don’t Want to Be

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"no problem"

We all have the right to develop in any way we like, outside of gender standards from yesterday or today or tomorrow.

Do you enjoy being told, “Since you are a woman (or man) you’re supposed to be (or do)…”

For many years now, I’ve been trying to makes sense of the expectations thrown on myself and other men like, “You have to be strong, have money, conviction and always be confident (even when you don’t feel confident)”—just because I’ve been tagged a “man.”

“These gender stereotypes are not just descriptive,… but they are actually prescriptive. Women SHOULD be nice, they SHOULDN’T be ambitious. Women are penalized for showing male traits (and vice versa).” ~ Cordelia Fine, author of ‘Delusions of Gender’

Read More

What Dad Taught Me

Posted by | Articles & Videos, Gender Expectations, my articles | 3,673 Comments

In considering how to be a good father, I’d have to speak from no experience, because I don’t yet have children. Even if I’ve cultivated a sort of “inner-father” to myself after leaving home.

So, in honor of Father’s Day, I want to share what I learned from my father that I choose to emulate—today and in anticipation of having children of my own.

Here’s the top 10 of what I say to myself… thanks to my dad.

[ >> read the rest on the Mankind Project Journal ]

You Can’t Inspire a Man by Using the Same Language that Took away his Inspiration

Posted by | Articles & Videos, Gender Expectations, my articles | 3,469 Comments

"it hurts"I often hear from both men and women that men today aren’t pulling their weight—that women have been doing a lot of work on themselves and really desire for men to “step up.”

Have all men been lumped into a category of being privileged and lazy?

As a man who’s been engaged with inner work since 2004, I can agree that in group settings, there used to be a lot more women than men present.

That’s been shifting.

I can also tell you from experience that being told to “step up” rarely inspired me—in fact, oftentimes it had the opposite effect. Anyone saying “step up” who didn’t know me seemed to care more about themselves than about me, and may just be recycling a command that worked for them in the past. Read More

Opening Up Like a Man

Posted by | Articles & Videos, Gender Expectations, my articles | 3,597 Comments

In a past relationship I got some feedback on the way I came across to my partner as a 30 year-old, powerless child. At the time, I thought I was being vulnerable and sharing openly about my feelings.

She told me something I will never forget. “I have no problem with you telling me when you’re going through a hard time,” she said. “It’s just that you sound like a child when you’re talking.”

She was right.

[ >> read the rest on the Mankind Project Journal ]

The Screaming Nice Guy

Posted by | Articles & Videos, Gender Expectations, my articles | 3,396 Comments

I took part in a workshop: about 18 women and 12 men played in a very interactive, energetic inquiry as to the nature of sexuality and how it lives or does not live in each of us.

In one moment, our brilliant facilitator noticed that there was a “men vs. women” dynamic showing up in the conversation, so she invited us to make it more real and play it out. All the men stood on one side of the room and all the women on the other. “Let out all the judgments you have about the other sex — say it to the people across from you now!”

A flurry came from the men, angry and pissed. Pent up rage being given permission to be expressed.

One woman grabbed a tennis racket and began pounding a pillow, screaming a wild, ”Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!!!!!”

I got annoyed. This felt like a battle and I judged her as weak.

And I faced a part of myself as I remained frozen: the nice guy…

[ >> read the rest on the Mankind Project Journal ]

Interview with the Mankind Project

Posted by | Articles & Videos, Gender Expectations, media interviews | 3,638 Comments

“This is a book that I wish I could have given myself when I was 13, and 17, and 20, and 27 … and yesterday. It may not be a book that resonates for everyone, but I believe that many men, of any age, will see aspects of their own personal journey in these pages, hauntingly laid out in a form that walks the line between picture book and graphic novel.”
— Boysen Hodgsen, the Mankind Project Journal

See the interview with Boysen and Matt below…