Thursday, September 29, 2011

New Warriors

         Men do not just talk about sex and football anymore.

            This generation still known as baby-boomers, even as we settle towards our time of rest, relaxation and retirement, was raised quite differently than we have actually behaved.  What was envisioned by our parents as a right of ascension has been, for better or worse, supplanted by the realities of sustainability and justice.

            A standard of abundance and prosperity was achieved and celebrated post-war and Great Depression, bottled and marketed through the marvelous invention of television, and imprinted on our souls to influence these many years since. The stereotype of the man with his briefcase home from his commute, kissing his wife in heels as the children marched off to bed, was certainly not that far from my own childhood.  The scene played out night after night as families nurtured the seed of the dream into the souls of their children, spreading expectations across the suburbs of America for bountiful harvests to come.
            Stated far too simply and without proof, power and greed assassinated Kennedy, shattering the Camelot that never was, but we refused to believe it and hired a commission to report that Oswald had acted alone.  The ubiquitous "they" then fed us a war against communism on the other side of the world to support our growing economy.  No one was supposed to get hurt, but the draft invaded our happy neighborhoods with funerals for the boys next door and the Middle Class began to take notice.

            Martin Luther King reminded us that some neighborhoods, both black and white, had been left behind and Bobby Kennedy repeated the call.  It got ugly. In Czechoslovakia, Chicago and Kent State, Ohio, the established authority tried to shut our freedoms down and it felt like a battle raging.

            Amidst that anger and violence, this generation of not-so-innocents was able to see beauty.  Some of it induced by drugs, for sure, and largely in a state of privilege, ultimately we imagined a world of love that was based on spirit and inclusion, envisioned Aquarian values dawning.  It felt like we had ended a war and embraced a lifestyle that could set us all free.
            The murder of John Lennon by an obsessed fan dashed the purity of that dream and turned us towards the responsibilities of raising our children to a better world.  Hippies became Yuppies.  Slums were gentrified into chic districts and any open land in the suburbs was filled in with mcmansions. We went about our business as usual, another generation exhibiting its share of Wall Streeters, Main Streeters and back road strollers.

            The change in most of our hearts took hold, however, in many different ways, some subtle and others overt.  Women were now side by side in the marketplace while dads learned how to change diapers and took off time to attend parent conferences, or stayed home while their partners provided.  Yoga, meditation and gym memberships, coaching soccer and joining food cooperatives translated the dream into a busy reality.


            Men, paying better attention, also learned how to cherish their women with praise and heartfelt gestures as much as with a secure home and a dozen roses on Valentine's Day.  Words like "feel", "trust" and "commitment" became commonplace and therefore far less frightening, no longer anathema.  We discovered eros simmered more fiercely in one place than scattered like sparks in the wind, even if that particular one lasted only for a decade instead of a lifetime.

            Communication became more comfortable, not just with our spouses, but with our best friends.  In pairs and small groups, men compared notes and discovered companionship and support for this new masculinity.  The three martini lunch was replaced by a bagel and intense discussion of self-help books and romantic tips that might nurture our lover as much as arouse. Foreign to our DNA, the struggle to be vulnerable became easier, confiding our frustrations and bewilderments to each other as opposed to holding things stoically inside or releasing it in a good, clean fight.
            Ironically, going against the grain is not without its proportionate amount of chafe, denial and disorientation.  Women seemed to adore the refocused attention, but in their loins, apparently, having had the same training, still lust after the strong provider, all sensitivity aside.  Men remain at the check-out uncomfortable not whipping out our wallets to buy lunch even if the woman is just a colleague on a similar expense account.

            Centuries of habits are difficult to erase in a single generation.  Confusion is understandable.  The true advance is that the men of today have thrown off their brutish cloaks and glittering chains of male testosterone in favor of coming together more in collaboration than competition.
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1 comment:

Shaik said...

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