OUR VISION FOR NEW YORK:
WHAT ABOUT MEN, BODY AND SOUL?

Recently, a friend and I talked about the way the media parodies the Men's Movement -- when they pay attention to it at all, Our discussion led me to see at least three forms of resistance to Men's Work.

The first flows from some women who seem to misunderstand it. They interpret our call for "separate" Men's Work as a put down of women. Somehow, we have failed to convey what an enormous gift to women our "separate" Work is.

At bottom, it means we men are looking to heal ourselves, define ourselves, complete (initiate) ourselves as men, by learning from other men. It implies we will cease to plague women for the answers to our existences -- attitudinally, emotionally, sexually. So when we approach women, we will do so bringing our gifts of wholeness and health, without unconsciously "demanding" those from women. And, having these gifts, we will be joyfully able to celebrate theirs. So much that distresses women today will be healed.

The second, far more pervasive, form of resistance to Men's Work flows from men. No doubt the Men's Movement raises deep questions about our roles, "who we think we are." That f eels dangerous! Rather than ask myself why I'm workaholic, or an underachiever, why I'm sexually dependent or suddenly divorced, why my kids won't talk to me, why I have no male friends, or why I'm going to die seven years earlier than the woman in my life, better to make fun of this dangerous Movement! Hey man, I'm not a loser!

This gives rise to what I call the Murphy Brown Syndrome (the writers were men). Today, no man can approach the Men's Movement unless his own pain drives him past that program's drum/mud/ feathers caricature. Fortunately, and unfortunately, the real state of men in American society is such that thousands are finding their way past that junk to the substance of Men's Work. That's nice to see.

But, it seems to me the final, and really lethal, form of resistance to Men's Work flows right from what I believe a man is. "Men won't do it for themselves," summarizes this form of resistance.

As a real man among men, I tough it out. Concerned care for my own body is already suspect -- better to die of prostate cancer than look like a wimp, after all. But, to act concerned for my feelings and my soul, for my self! -- man, you got to be kidding! I'm not that selfish, or that weak! That stuff's for women!

Everyone now seems excited about Gender Reconciliation Work. Many people ask about forming mixed groups of men and women. And make no mistake, ultimately I am passionately in favor of that. But, right now a very uneasy question bothers me about it. Is this another sneaky instance of our "needing" (using) women to justify doing anything kind for ourselves? If so, there won't be enough of me really present to "Reconcile" with anyone.

So, ON THE COMMON GROUND offers Work for men in New York. Most importantly, it is work -- definite things I can do, an effort I may make as a kindness to myself, to define myself body and soul.

The PATHWAYS MEETINGS, the annual RETREATS, and the formation of MEN'S GROUPS, form a coherent program for any man who wants on going access to the Work of becoming himself. Of course, inherently, such Work engages with my community. So, at bottom, I find myself facing OTCG's motto: AS MY REAL FEELINGS TOWARD MYSELF, SO AM I TOWARDS YOU, SO AM I TOWARDS OUR EARTH.

Join us for the one adventure really worth undertaking!

John Guarnaschelli
1994

 


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