The Rev. Alisdair Smith
If a man says something in a forest, and there is no one there to hear him, is he still wrong?
You may have seen a current TV commercial for a McCain's frozen cake product. A man returns home from work, and tells his wife that he has found his life's dream; he's going to be a mime. But she's fully into eating the chocolate cake, saying, "hmmmm, yes, hmmm."
He thinks she's being encouraging, and so he dons a black beret, and starts miming. Absorbed in tasting the delicious cake, she takes a while to notice him, but finally does and asks what in the world he is doing.
He says, "Living my dream."
She says, "Stop that."
Frankly, if in the TV commercial a man had crushed the dreams of a woman, even as a joke, the outcry would have been strong.
Why is that do you think? I think at least in part, it's because deep down we know that men are in a lot of trouble in our society, and we really don't know what to do about it. So, we laugh at them.
Now, to be clear, it is good to be a man, and it has been for much our history, it is not surprisingly, "his story"! However, according to psychologist, James Hollis, there is a very dark side. North American men die on average eight years before women. We are four times more likely to be substance abusers. We are four times more likely to take our own lives. We are eleven times more likely to spend time in jail.
Psychologist James Hollis says for us men, at our darkest levels, "impotence, powerlessness in any of its forms is worse than annihilation. Governed as he is by fear...a man compensates."
Welcome to a man's world, where deep down we are terrified of being somehow impotent, somehow not quite men, not quite good enough. And given this terror, we constantly size each other up, we are constantly in competition with each other. And when we are afraid, when we see a threat, we often attack, (running isn't manly). We attack, physically, emotionally, or through diminishing the other guy.
But the world is not going to change for the better, until we men start making some very difficult decisions about our own darker default behaviours and putting ourselves into risky and vulnerable places. If we continue to make our decisions based on fear, the world will continue to be a very dangerous place, for all of us.
And, if a man tells you that he has found his life's calling at the very least, respect and honour his courage in even speaking about it with you. Hollis also wrote, "Love asks that we confer on the other the freedom to be who they most profoundly are, even as we wish the same for ourselves."
May God grant each one of us the grace never to sell ourselves short. May God grant each one of us the grace to risk something big for something good. And may God grant each one of us the grace to know that the world is now too small for anything but truth, and too dangerous for anything but love.