Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Man Oh Man

I saw a guy freaking out.
Standing on the sidewalk in front of a department store, he was screaming at the top of his lungs and pacing back and forth as if a caged animal. Worse, his wife and five or six year old daughter were the target of the tirade. The fear on their faces spoke volumes. Eventually he stormed off in a huff, his wife and daughter following meekly behind.
What has happened to men? Not all men, yet there is a certain childishness inherent in the “modern man”. (Not to be confused with child-like, which is actually pretty cool.)

What happened to rites of passage?
Women have always had and will always have rites of passage. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what those rites are and that there are two in a woman’s lifetime… one in their teens and another at middle age. The first signals a time to grow up and become an “adult”. At least, an adult in the cognizant faculties department. The second signals a time of reshaping their thoughts more toward the world rather than the family. Women after menopause are a force to be reckoned with when they get a cause in their heads!
It’s pretty awesome to witness.
Men have lost their rites. In ancient times, a man went from boyhood to manhood by hunting game, going off alone into the wilderness, performing tasks of bravery or other “manly” tasks. Always at the end was taking part in a ceremony in front of the whole village or town so they would recognize the boy had become a man. From then on, the "new" men were treated differently and expectations of them were different. They had an obligation to contribute to their community in a meaningful way.
In this day and age of modern convenience and immediate expectations, we have lost the rite of passage from boy to man.
With that loss, we have created a society of largely childish thinking boys in larger clothing. It has affected us in our relationships with pretty much everything. Our relationships with man-toys seems more important than with our families and friends. We seem to become men when we get our driver's license or have our first drink or get our first job or get married.
It's all very vague.
There's no actual rite or ceremony. One day it just seems to be a muddled, confusing expectation from society at large and the boy is left thinking, "Um... okay... sure... I guess that means... um...".
There's no line in the sand.
I think a rite of passage needs to return; a moment in time when a boy becomes a man and his responsibility to family, community and self shifts to more important issues. I’m not sure we can send everyone out on a hunting quest. We’re already in deep ka-ka as far as wildlife is concerned. I’m pretty sure sending all the 15 year olds into the wilderness on a vision quest at the same time isn’t so great either. There’s enough of them they would likely all meet up and a Lord of the Flies would ensue.
Some sort of ritual has to happen though. Along with it, an oath needs to be cited. Something like…
As I pass from boy to man, I promise to honour and respect all life. I promise to treat others as I would like to be treated. I shall contribute to community and the welfare of others with whatever gifts I have to offer. I shall live my live with integrity, honesty, compassion, empathy, purpose and responsibility. I shall hold no-one above or below me regardless of race, creed, colour, sex or personal orientation. I shall protect my family and encourage them to become whatever they wish to become. I shall conduct myself in a manner that befits being a man.
At this point, those who are with us during the ceremony perform some sort of ritual where they acknowledge the new man. Maybe they all punch the guy in the arm or something.
Of course, we could all just mandate that all boys who are becoming men publicly recite the lyrics from Neil Diamond’s Hell Yeah

"I hear you wondering out loud
Are you ever gonna make it?
Will you ever work it out?
Will you ever take a chance
And just believe you can?

Hell yeah you will
You're gonna be okay
And you might get lost
But then you'll find a way
Don't go alone
Can't be afraid
Hell yeah
This life is here and it's made for livin'
And love's a gift that's made for givin'
You give it all away and have it still
And Hell yeah you will"

Hell yeah... that should do it.