In a world where terms like toxic masculinity and #metoo are hot topics that bare the same weight as religion and politics, words like compassion, love, and genuineness often define weakness in men. Living in a world where masculinity is toxic precludes a world in which individuals live from a place of internal joy — a place where peace and compassion of oneself reside. Society plays a huge role in defining how men should behave. The media and the film industry exemplify this by teaching us that when a man’s masculinity is questioned, he must react with resentment, unspoken desire, and violence against women and each other. I believe that some men are in dire need to find connection, empathy, and compassion. Putting to rest the toxic characteristics of what society deems necessary to be a man – an image of someone strong; an alpha leader, a desire to win at no cost, controlling, narcissistic, possessive, and probably the most dangerous characteristic is the man who is emotionally detached.
Society influences how men learn what it means to be masculine and films allow us to observe and put into practice this behavior. The film industry can lead us to believe that men should be like John Wayne, James Bond, or the Rock. Characters that exemplify strength – winning at no cost. I’m not suggesting that power is a weakness and that the film industry is the cause of this behavior in men, but these influences help to promote violence and aggression in getting things done. Similarly, politics play a huge role, as well. During Brett Kavanaugh’s alleged abuse scandal, we saw a man elevated to the supreme court while the women were caught in the thrones of toxic masculine behavior. These men are examples of what society has taught us for many years that men are forced and learn from birth to conform to societal norms on how men should behave. What it cannot dictate is a person’s inner truth. Internally is where equality in values, collaboration, and humane treatment of each other and oneself live.
Moving beyond societal influence and toward a life of social wisdom is where men can learn to tame their ego and allow their inner truth to become an external reality. In Hollywood, movies like “Call Me By Your Name” are presenting viewers a shift in what’s expected from a major motion picture. In the film, Elio, unfulfilled in his romantic relationships with women, seeks solace in a satisfying relationship with Oliver. While taming his ego, he shows that being masculine means being able to win, fail, love, and most importantly, internally truthful in spite of external societal stereotypes.
Not knowing Barak Obama personally, and without any political statement about a party, we see Mr. Obama as a man of high power and influence – characteristics of a masculine man. In my opinion, what makes Obama different is his ability to show compassion and empathy, allowing himself to be capable of love and a genuine concern for humanity and the planet. He can stand his ground and contradict societies influences by promoting values of equality – shifting from external status to a more internal manifestation of compassion. When we learn to tame our ego, we no longer need power, prosperity, and control to define us. Societies expectations of us dissipate, and an internal reality gives us the ability to promote peace, justice, compassion, and challenges other men to do the same. When we tame our ego, we become more masculine by revealing our internal character, which solidifies our existence in the world. Yes, men are broken and emotionally constipated. But if we live our life with a tamed ego, we can heal. Learning to tame and heal the ego from societal influences will lead us to a life where we value compassion, empathy, equality, and respect. Living life as a man does not mean we must live a toxic life. Living life as a man says that we are accountable for our actions, feelings, and thoughts. I challenge you to think about the person not whom you appear to be, but the one you indeed are. Understanding who you are internally is where change happens, and this is where we tame our ego and live a life of Social Wisdom.