I recently attended the annual Wingspan national leadership conference, held this year in Indianapolis. The nice thing about the Wingspan conference is that it doesn't concentrate on "stars".

Local men devoted to the Men's Movement converge from all over the country, entirely at their own expense. This year about 80 of us gathered in a rain drenched camp, located god-knows-where south of the city.

As I flew toward the meeting, I found myself wondering do we even have a Men's Movement? That question made me realize how thoroughly the media have colonized even my most intimate perceptions.

After all, TV and the papers have stopped running stories about the Movement. And, after Bly and Keen, books devoted to Men's Movement themes have not sold at all well.

In the face of my own experience, and despite my deepest beliefs, because the media aren't watching, I found myself believing that the reality doesn't exist!

To be sure, a few hours at the conference went a long way towards clearing up that illusion.

The men present were passionately dedicated to the cause of men. And, they gave evidence of a lot of hard work in all their cities. Very soon, I was swept up in renewed confidence.

But, in fact, I was missing the point!

At its heart, the Men's Movement does not exist because so-and-so many of us are devoted to it. That is the unfortunate mistake the Feminist Movement is making.

The Men's Movement exists because it speaks to the questions I, as a man, need to ask about living my life.

How do I relate better to my wife or my lover? What will allow me to show my kids I really love them? What precisely do I need for myself in these relationships?

How can I make my relationships last?... or end? What, if anything, are friends for?

What is my inheritance from my parents and my family? What more do I have to learn in order to be myself in a fuller, richer way?

How do I really relate to money, work, the job? Why do I deal with my superiors, my coworkers, or my subordinates, as I do?

Sometimes, men in the Men's Movement sound as though men must "eat worms" -- be losers -- to find their way to it. No wonder so many men collude in parodies of what it's about. Fear does that.

The real appeal of the Men's Movement is just the opposite. It invites us onto the road to pride, everyday happiness, and real fulfillment. It invites us to explore the deep goodness in our hearts.

It suggests we do not need to remain solitary, but may join with a band of brothers, as we work out our own destiny. Each man has the richness of his own insight, his own experience, to contribute to what we are doing.

At bottom, I am a part of the Men's Movement -- that Movement exists -- not because we are thousands or millions, but because I am proudly doing my own life.

Media or no media, I must do that. That is all I really want to do. I want to do that the best I can.

If you feel similarly, join me ON THE COMMON GROUND.

John Guarnaschelli


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