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November 17th, 2014
What are men to do?
In 1920, Virginia Woolf published a brilliant story, A Society, which concludes that war and brutality are distinctly male in origin, and that the world will never know peace until men have babies and so acquire through experience reverence for all life.
My puny masculinity and gender-enlightened, awakening self agree, yet Woolf’s declaration and my agreement beg the question: what are men to do?
There is no solution in having babies. I’ve had three, or rather, I was a spectator/participant at the birth of three, and though I saved my wife’s life during the third delivery, I’ve never had any doubt that she always performed the heroic, transformative journey, not I.
Having babies, even once removed, has made me more dovish than hawkish; I do revere life more than I did before. Yet, I’m keenly and poignantly aware that I lack what Woolf required of me—a visceral, experiential connection, through giving birth, to life itself.
There is in all men a precious fragility that perversely seeks to crush what is fragile in others. Call it a motor impulse that makes an aggressive male driver suddenly yank the wheel of his Cadillac to the left so that he can squash a pelican that has wandered onto the blacktop of Highway 1 near Monterey. It’s the impulse that coaches and teachers use to shame young men for their perceived weaknesses. It’s the madness that drives the rapist and passive-aggressive abuser of children, women and men. Call it the make-war impulse. Men possess it, or are, perhaps more accurately, possessed by it, than women.
So, I ask you: what are men, and women, to do about this? I welcome your thoughts, your wisdom, your anger, your insight.
Washing the Bones: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Transformation by Katherine Ingram http://www.amazon.com/Washing-Bones-Memoir-Love-Transformation
Consider these books for your library, reading pleasure and gifts. Share them with friends, colleagues and loved ones!
Poetry as Spiritual Practice: Reading, Writing, and Using Poetry in Your Daily Rituals, Aspirations, and Intentions and The More We Get Together: The Sexual and Spiritual Language of Love and other collections are available at my website www.robertmcdowell.net, and at www.IndieBound.org, www.amazon.com, and www.b&n.com or by request at your local bookstore.
Robert, My response is “just what you are doing with your life.” I wish all men could learn from you, as it is a challenging journey with many ambiguities. Thanks for all you do to raise awareness and sensibilities. Warmly, Judith Corbin
Thank you so much for your kindness and encouragement! With many blessings, Robert