AN ODE TO MEN

Father’s Day is soon here. If you’re not a father, I hope you have a plan in place to celebrate the fathers in your life. If you are a father, then HAPPY FATHER’S DAY TO YOU! Hats off and a deep bow for the powerful role that you play in your children’s lives and in our world. Thank you for all that you do. As you read on you will find I am primarily addressing women, in my mission to shine a light on the magic of men.

 

Men are so worth celebrating. Our active appreciation fuels these beloved creatures and catalyzes them to higher heights of who it’s possible for them to be. So let’s not be stingy with our praise. Let’s not be guarded with our respect and our honoring of them. Let’s take stock of the many things the fathers in our lives are doing perfectly right.

 

Sexism and misogyny is rampant in our society, sure. But with this comes an “anti-male” backlash that does us all a tremendous disservice. It makes me sad when I think about the biases against men and all things masculine in our society. Many things about men and masculinity are maligned, and with this, my heart goes out to the males in my life, including my sweet 8-year old son, my husband, and my two fathers, one biological, and one adoptive.

 

We humans are all interconnected, and we must learn to get along together, honoring and respecting our differences. Man-hating, or even bearing a subtle grudge against the lot of ‘em, or even that tell-tale condescension towards men we see in television ads, sitcoms, and at our friends’ dinner parties has no place in a world of equality and interpersonal harmony, a world in which, ideally, we all thrive.

 

Men and women are different from one another. Let’s not get carried away by overstating this, as if we are two separate species altogether, but let’s not ignore and deny what’s obvious (and what is most certainly not purely socialization), that we have differing sets of programming and differing ways of being in the world. This diversity is the spice of life, and it’s what makes the world go around. It’s the gravity, the needed tension, holding things together in the interpersonal sphere.

 

It’s usually our inability to handle our differences and diversity, across cultures, genders, generations, and even in marriages and romantic relationships, that causes things to go south. In fact my #1 secret to magical, enchanted, and successful romantic relationships is simply this:

 

Know that love is fundamentally a negotiation of difference. It is an adventure between two people across a great divide of otherness. True love does not yank the beloved onto your side of the corridor. True love allows for whatever differences there are between you.

 

Accept your beloved for who he is. Love heals and, yes, transforms people. So your job is just to love. “Trying to change someone,” on the other hand, never works. Hence, allow your man to be different from you. Don’t assume that because he has different priorities or approaches to things that those ways are inferior to yours, or defective somehow. His way is not “stupid.” We ourselves are stupid (said lovingly and with a twinkle in my eye) when we expect others to be as we want them to be, rather than expecting (and allowing) them to be exactly as they are.

 

When we’re dealing with difference of any kind, humility is in order. The humility to not know it all. The humility to know that there are reasons for other people’s behavior that is beyond our capacity to understand, that there is, indeed, “a reasonable explanation for everything.” We must have the humility to know that our own lenses are profoundly limited, and our take on things is just that, a “take.” Our particular vantage point, as one among 7 billion other peoples’ takes, is in no way “the truth.”

 

Also in order when we’re dealing with difference is curiosity. The desire to learn something from the other, rather than to teach them something. The desire to come to understand a few things that lie beyond our normal scope.

 

I hate to be one of those people who “judges the judgers,” but I must nevertheless put out an admonition that we should all cultivate the capacity to refrain from judging others. It is possible to keep our full powers of observation, to honor our perceptions, without emitting a little blast of venom into the air around us, and without lapsing into a score-keeper, a hierarchizer, a judge or a juror.

 

Note your preferences, sure. Your preferences do matter, for they are the product of your unique programming, a feature of your most important quality, your authenticity. Yes, honor your personal truth for the personal truth that it is. But don’t deem another way of seeing or doing things inferior or “bad.” If we could all commit to making that tiny, simple shift, if we could all choose to see from a higher vantage point, this world would be a very different place.