Part 4 of 4….so, how could it be different? What do we do? Simply this: a wise man once said ‘do what you can with what you have where you are’.
Initially, get directly involved in any way you are able with your own self development. Be discerning; you will meet many people with ‘good advice’–trust your intuition around what feels right for you, don’t stay anywhere that feels off to you. Read a book, go to a talk, watch a film, go to a workshop. Pay attention to your environment and be compassionately self-reflective, think about how you feel (that stuff happens in that thing below your neck!) about the world around you and let your responses guide you forward. Trust yourself.
After a while, when you have a good sense of where you are and what you need, look for like-minded people. Maybe you can mentor teenagers, maybe you want to join a community garden initiative, maybe you want to share your creative talents with a group, maybe you want to befriend someone, and in each case, listening is a good skill to have and usually the best thing to do! Try a few things out.
Learn about boundaries yours and others. Be affirming of yourself and others. Be vulnerable, take risks to connect and listen to the opinions of others, even perhaps about you. Challenge anything you feel is unhealthy, sign as many online petitions as you feel moved to. They do make a difference. Switch off your TV, think about what you watch / play / spend money on.
The most potent places of intervention are educational establishments –if you can work to influence those along the lines of Ken Robinson’s wonderful TED Talk. Connect with Nature, your nature and the earth’s. There is intelligence there beyond your current understanding, I can promise you that.
And, above all, try hard to move beyond your personal ideas of gender, of the limits you place on yourself and others. These are constructed social ideas that are increasingly obsolete. We need a new way, we have done for about 800 years. There are many wonderful ideas out there but most of them are solving problems that were obsolete a decade ago, such is the rate of change now upon us.
One of the major problems we face as a species (whatever our preferred gender identifications!) is that we are overwhelmed by the size and number of issues we are exposed to; defining the problem is a problem itself. I’d suggest anything that enhances esteem, connects individuals and groups of all ages to each other and the earth and actively opposes institutional abuse of human moral values is a good thing to do. Good but not easy. Waiting for someone else to give you permission, invite you or show you the way is passive and unnecessary. Act as if your life depends on it…it almost certainly does.
And, seeing as it was supposed to be a gender piece about men –men do listen to other men; if young men see you doing the above, they will follow your lead. In fact, they will follow your lead whatever you are doing, so wise up. Affirm young men whenever you can, itis likely they are waiting just for that- your attention and blessing. Tell them they count. Don’t fake it, they will know. Be sincere; what you say is not as important as where it comes from. A few words can really change someone’s life, or at least their day. Women ditto for each other and young girls. And never ever shame anyone, even in jest… especially yourself!
‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world;
indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.’
Paul Howell offers personal coaching and counselling, training and facilitation, and workshops for men at Clarity Coaching.