In my life so far, I have observed that there is an award for all the great traits society appears to hold above all others. Traits most of us aspire to. In today’s world, people are amazingly connected to their teams – you name it. They identify strongly with their sporting teams, their club teams, their individual sport (that is a team sport) etc.
Men (and women) battle it out on many sporting arenas to win the cup/trophy/prize money. Demonstrating all these tangible, hard – winning skills.
There is an award for almost every trait related to hard work, determination and success – an outward expression of strength, power and discipline and determination. A beautiful thing that is celebrated and written about (from the winner’s perspective) throughout history. Whether we’re talking about successful people or successful nations (in wars). History is biased towards awarding the victors.
That’s just how it has always been.
But the world has changed a lot. Not only just with technology but with regards to everything else. It is a flat world after all. Definitions of what it means to be a ‘man’ or a ‘woman’ today is very different to what they were say, 50 years ago. Definitions of a family, sex, sexual preference and marriage is different today too.
Maybe, just maybe, we should start giving out awards for the more ‘softer’ skills of an individual. Things like – compassion, care, intimacy and conflict resolution. Not just awards for being the strongest, fastest athlete or ‘talent’ in the business world which it has always been.
No, there should be awards for the men, who embrace change. Men who embrace the softer skills that is part of the modern-day definition of what it means to be a man. There should be awards for the courage taken for intimacy and compassion and show of affection. There should be an award for men who place family over career promotions. This is fear personified. A very tough choice.
Men are not just what society makes out the majority of the species to be – selfish, power-hungry, career-focused, sexually-obsessed being. No, a man has other parts to his being that often does not get a chance (as often as society allows) to ‘see the light of day’. A side that is ‘put under the carpet’ and rather neglected over many generations.
Whilst these parts of a full-man is walked on as a doormat, the more commonly emphasised parts such as – uncaring, careless, aggressive side is stressed. We hear, see, read about this every single day. On the sporting field, in the business world, it seems in every single crevice of this earth. No one is immune to this.
Maybe, just maybe, society should start recognising the courageous men out there who are:
- Not afraid to demonstrate genuine affection to those he loves
- Not afraid of genuine intimacy with others
- Not afraid to accept equal responsibility in the raising of children (in every sense of the word – not just from a financial sense)
- Courageous enough to perform all the tasks required of a ‘dad’ just as it is for what was a ‘once-upon-a-time’ womans’ domain
- Courageous enough to be a role model for the young men (sons, nephews) of the changing perceptions of what it means to be a ‘man’
- Brave enough to demonstrate his full display of affection and role model to his daughter/daughters
- Not afraid to get in touch with his ‘feminine side’ – not just as a trend but as an obligation that goes along with what it means to be a man/father/dad.
- Embrace the changing status of what a ‘real man’ is.
Society should start giving out awards of bravery not just to celebrate the historically implanted image of men who went to war, carrying a gun. Yes, these bravery awards are well deserved. But history is littered with wonderful examples of this and this image of bravery is forever etched in our psyche.
But, I believe there are also heroes that stay behind. Men that never get a chance to carry a gun. Men that never ever go off to war. Men that never ever get a chance to win that ‘bravery award’. No, but these men are still here. They are all around us. Could be talking of you. Maybe of some the male friends you know.
They’re everywhere! But they’re afraid to come out.
I believe a lot of these men still bottle up these genuine ‘softer – parts’ of themselves for fear. I believe it is mainly a deep-seated fear of ‘what other people would think of them’. It is not fear of being a failure of being a man, a father in today’s world, according to today’s definitions. No, it is a fear of criticism that goes along with your decision to fully accept all the responsibilities that go along with what it means to be a MAN.
Fear of what people would think of you if you gave up a promotion at work because you put your family first. This would be totally abnormal. “Are you insane!” … you would hear friends and family say. Because it goes against expectations. It goes against prevailing perceptions. It goes against the ‘status quo’. Something that will take time to change and fully accepted. Just like it has taken time for countries to pass laws to de-criminalize same-sex marriages.
A big part of this, I believe is acceptance of the ‘other side’, the feminine side to his character. There should be bravery awards given to men and dads who demonstrate great skills at the softer skills to his being. Softer skills that don’t necessarily make him soft. No, far from it. Soft skills that make him a complete, whole, real man. An authentic man.
This is the definition of bravery – doing something that you’re afraid to do but you do it anyway. Pessimists would call this stupidity.
These awards of public recognition for bravery in intimacy will encourage the current crop of men to embrace this neglected side and part of them (just like it has been for their fathers and grand-fathers and every male figure in their family line). But more importantly provide a re-wiring opportunity for the men of tomorrow (our sons) to embrace the changing definition of what it means to be a ‘real man’.
That the young men of today – my son, your son(s) may look upon traits such as tenderness and care, compassion and heart as acceptable and as important as work ethic, discipline and winning at all costs.
My hope is that recognising bravery awards for the men of today who make these choices would lift the lid on this stereotype and ‘free’ and liberate the ‘hidden, softer’ male that is in every man out there.
Not all heroes hold guns. Not all great men climb to great heights. Not all great men seek this definition of success. My grandfather, a very influential man in my life was a great example of this. To me, he was my hero. A true gentleman. I only fully realized the man he was when he died. I couldn’t believe the amount of people from all walks of life that paid respect for this man.
I only truly understood the man he was and what he meant for my life and view of life only after he died. I was very fortunate that I had him as a mentor in my early years of life. His definition of success was not skewed unhealthily towards material and financial gain at all costs. He had a much broader view of success. Success in all areas of life.
There is a hero in every man. Yes, there is a hero in you, too (and you don’t need to be awarded a Victoria Cross for this)!
In my books, all heroes believe in what is right. These heroes go to great length to stand by what they believe in. To STAND THEIR GROUND. Even if this means that they are in the minority at this present time. Even if they are going up against the status quo. Even if they are ‘rocking the boat’ about what it means to be a ‘real man’ in today’s world. Even if they are as proud to receive a ‘bravery award for intimacy/affection/compassion etc’, publicly.
And hope that one day, these awards for the ‘softer-side’ of a man is held in as high regard or close to that of a man who goes off and wields a gun in a war. Or to that of a man who climbs the corporate ladder to his imaginary snow-capped mountain top and feeling unsatisfied with life when he gets to the top and realises that there isn’t any snow at the top.
The war WITHIN is far greater and tougher battle than the war without. For ALL MEN. How you manage and choose to navigate this internal emotional mine-field as you pass through the different phases in life is very telling.
All the best to all the young dads/men out there trying to make sense of life and what it is to be a man and looking for answers to the question “Is this all there is to life?”
This question, my friend is one that only YOU can answer. There is one certainty: you will find YOUR ANSWER. How you go about finding that answer is the issue here. Aim to search for the answers in the right places. For those of you men that already get that public recognition of bravery, bravery award of intimacy on all levels. Think of yourselves as the lucky ones. Congratulations. You deserve it! You are a trail-blazer, you are an example of courage in action.
There is hope, so, let’s all get together and request for Intimacy Awards please!
Until next time,