Circles of Trust

Circles of Trust

I am a fan of the Circle of Trust work that Parker Palmer has held at the Center for Courage and Renewal. The work is held together by a set of touchstones that I have now posted on the website. It will be good for you to read these before our calls.

No fixing, saving, advising or correcting each other.

Learn to respond to others with honest, open questions.

When the going gets rough, turn to wonder.

Man Friends

Man Friends

I like to say that one day I will start a church. And that I’m going to call it “The Church of Co-Evolution Through Friendship.” Friendship is sacred to me. It is a life defining practice. I am blessed to have deep, intimate relationships with other men.

When I was doing interviews for the Better Men Project, I was surprised to learn that many men have a hard time being friends with other men. They have a hard time going to deep and accountable places together.

Are You Listening?

Are You Listening?

I remember women trying to tell me that there was something off with my behavior. That there was something patriarchal about the way I was showing up in the world. And I remember brushing them off. Telling them, and myself, that I was a feminist.

But my feminism was a feminism of the head. It was intellectual. Not embodied. The head seems to be a place where many of us men hide. We hide in our knowing. We fear feeling and sensing.

Our Hurt

Our Hurt

adrienne has been such an important guide on our journey. I want to invite us to say a prayer for her and wish her a happy birthday. She wrote a beautiful post about it.

Her words in that post resonate with a reflection I want to invite you into this week:

i wouldn’t wish my trauma on anyone.
healing from trauma, feeling peace and even joy in my life, is the greatest achievement of my life

I think we are right to focus our attention on the harm that we have caused. On the ways in which toxic masculinity has made us dangerous in the world. Our work here is to take full responsibility. So that we can become better men.

The Joe Rogan Guy

The Joe Rogan Guy

I was absolutely fascinated by Devin Gordon’s take on Joe Rogan in The Atlantic. One of the things that I have wrestled with since the launch of the Better Men Project is that the men who are called to participate are men who are linked to my network. And most of these men are already “woke.” 

We have PLENTY of work to do. And doing this work on ourselves is doing work that makes a difference well beyond just us.

But who is getting to all the men out there who don’t know what to do after coming face to face with #metoo? Many of them we’ll never reach. They are defensive. And reactionary. And they are just doubling down on the same toxic masculinity that keeps rape culture alive.

Transformative Justice

Transformative Justice

I am still moved by our last call. It got real. Men talked about being perpetrators. About the harm we have caused. I am grateful for the courage to speak truths that render us so vulnerable. And I am grateful for our group’s capacity to receive. And to hold each other in confidence.*

In Pleasure as Praxis, Corinne Manning interviews adrienne maree brown for BitchMedia. I was struck by the clarity and wisdom of this exchange on transformative justice:

Our Fathers

Our Fathers

oday I’m thinking about fathers. A dear friend visited this weekend. We are both fathers to young boys. And we were talking about all the stuff that we blame on our parents when we get to therapy. They probably deserve some of that blame. Some of us had parents that truly and thoroughly failed.

But we also talked about the things that they simply could not have known. About the fact that our consciousness is shaped and warped by our cultural moment.

Patriarchy is Transmitted

Patriarchy is Transmitted

Today we gather again. A group of men committed to the lifelong process of relinquishing patriarchy.

adrienne reminds us to:

recognize that as a man, you are a part of patriarchy. even if you have made some effort to break out of it, the system/insanity of patriarchy is still there for you to fall back into under pressure or duress.

Patriarchy does not happen by osmosis. It is not something that is simply in the water. Patriarchy is transmitted. We are educated into it. Words are spoken. Often by our elders. Certainly by our peers. And always through the culture. Booming through the media.

The Ridiculous Fantasy of a "No Drama" Relationship

The Ridiculous Fantasy of a "No Drama" Relationship

Feelings and drama are not the same thing. Too many of us don’t even know how to be with our own feelings. So we lack the capacity to be with the feelings of the women in our lives. adrienne names it:

You aren’t encouraged to feel your feelings. in fact, the opposite is the case. you are told it isn’t manly to cry, to need comfort, to feel longing. you are ridiculed for emotions that aren’t weaponized, for gentleness, for what is categorized as feminine behavior.

What is it that comes up for you when you contend with someone’s feelings? What happens to you when a woman expresses her feelings around you or to you? 

Curious. Humble. Committed to Change

Curious. Humble. Committed to Change

his week I have been involved in ceremony work with men. I am deeply moved by the love and tenderness that is opening up among us. It is certainly exceptional. It is quite rare for men to express care and affection for each other in the ways that I have witnessed in these spaces. It is deep personal work that truly matters.

We need to work on the way patriarchy shapes our inner lives, our emotional lives, our capacity to be with each other in authentic and vulnerable ways.

Patriarchy is a Disease

Patriarchy is a Disease

We had a powerful first call. I was moved by the quality of conversation. And by our willingness to lean into this effort to relinquish patriarchy. By looking deeply at ourselves. By turning to one another. And by staying curious about an emergent process.

This is an experiment. Here, to be emergent means to focus on “the most elegant next step.” And right now what we want to do is to come together again. You are invited to join us on Monday, August 5 at 8:30PM East. So that we can deepen our conversation.

Righteous, not Self-Righteous

Righteous, not Self-Righteous

There is something about the word freedom that appeals to the warrior archetype that lives within us. Many men can be moved to deep emotion by scenes from movies like Bravehart, or a serious contemplation of the slave rebellion that led to Haiti’s independence.

There is something that appeals to us. Something that moves us. This is the same something that can be used to manipulate boys into signing up for wars of Empire. But it is also something that can be made conscious. It is an energy that can move us as we aim for a truer freedom.

Our call is to become righteous. It is not to become self-righteous.

A Path to Intimacy

A Path to Intimacy

I want to invite us to focus on feminine pain. On the pain that women have to bear in this patriarchal society. It is easy for us to intellectualize. To “understand” it by abstracting it. This is one of our tendencies. We can talk about something without embodying it.

To know in your head is very different than to understand it. It is different than feeling it. Are you able to tune in to those women in your life who might be willing to share their experiences with you? Are you able to do it without being consumed by shame, without asking for answers, without rushing to solutions?

Consider just listening. Consider learning how to listen deeply. Let’s learn to develop the capacity for holding the pain that the women in our lives have been holding.

What is Patriarchy?

What is Patriarchy?

Let’s start where adrienne begins. Here is the simplest definition of patriarchy:

the system of society/government in which men hold the power and women are excluded from it.

She tells us what it is. She asserts that it is collapsing. And she admonishes us to give it up and get ourselves out. 

She reminds us that it won’t be easy. But conscious masculinity is not about the easy path. It is about rising to the challenge. Specially when we hear a call to freedom.

Let's Relinquish Patriarchy

Let's Relinquish Patriarchy

People are gathering around adrienne maree brown’s books Emergent Strategy and Pleasure Activism. I’m inviting men to gather around her recent blog post Relinquishing the Patriarchy. Let’s take a deeper dive into the conversation.

Let’s have a zoom video conference call together. Join me and other men on Monday, July 8, 2019 at 8:30PM East Coast Time. Let’s take time with this clear text. Let’s allow it to impact us and how we show up as men.

Machos Anónimos

Machos Anónimos

It is too easy for the work of dismantling patriarchy to become an arena of “competitive wokeness.” A well developed analysis can actually shut down curiosity. We tend to hold it as a fundamental truth. And the work becomes about grandstanding. Everyone wants to get it right. To let others know they have it right.  And to enforce what is right. I call it movement fundamentalism.

I have nothing against what is right. But I do have a problem with spaces that make us afraid to get anything wrong. The fundamentalism that underlies “competitive wokeness” can paralyze us with fear. No one wants to get it wrong. No one wants to be exiled from the tribe. A primal fear hijacks our thinking. And fear is how possibility erodes.

The Intimacy of Men

The Intimacy of Men

One of the key findings from my first round of interviews is that men don’t have enough intimacy with other men. Those who are in a relationship may tend to burden their partner with emotional labor. Or they may opt to shut down instead.

But bringing men together in ways that facilitate vulnerability and intimacy opens the door for the sort of healing that is all about taking responsibility. It is the most fundamental work. The work we have to do is to turn inwards and love ourselves. It is by making this choice that we are able to choose our own healing. It is by becoming responsible for our own healing, it is by becoming whole, that we can find our way to conscious masculinity.

What Should Men Do?

What Should Men Do?

Interviews for the Better Men Project confirm that many of us want to do better. It is also clear that we do not always know how to. We know how to be better than Weinstein or Cosby. Some of us have learned tough lessons about the impact of our own behavior.

But being a good man has to mean more than "don't be bad."

George Yancy invites an #IamSexist movement. He refuses to let any of us off the hook. It is not enough to not be bad. What matters is that we are men in a culture that holds ideas of masculinity that are dangerous and toxic. He quotes bell hooks:

Learning to wear a mask (that word already embedded in the term ‘masculinity’) is the first lesson in patriarchal masculinity that a boy learns. He learns that his core feelings cannot be expressed if they do not conform to the acceptable behaviors sexism defines as male. Asked to give up the true self in order to realize the patriarchal ideal, boys learn self-betrayal early and are rewarded for these acts of soul murder.