The capitalist system prioritizes money over people. Not some of the time. All of the time, as policy and standard operating procedure. Since the capitalist system is such a backward system, it relies on keeping the people within it backward in their thinking. It pushes to make human beings reactive and not analytical. In the case of men, we are programmed to be the strong silent types. All the messages broadcast to us from the heroes in movies and television are that strong silent type mold. Clint Eastwood. Arnold. Sly. In the Will Smith movie "Focus" he plays the strong type who's always in control. Manipulative, and cold and unfeeling. This is how every Batman movie portrays that character. It is how the most respected athletes in society are presented. Michael Jordan is the best because you never saw him sweat. Reggie Jackson was Mr. October because he could handle any pressure without melting. Mike Tyson was "Iron Mike." As men, we grow up being preached to constantly about strength being defined as not ever showing any weaknesses. What this tells us is if we show weakness e.g. the inability to overcome any issue and obstacle that comes our way, then we are less than Jordan. Less than Batman. Less than Will Smith. We are less than a man and no one is ever going to want us, respect us, or look to us with any regard. Of course, the man who falls short here is a loser and a loser is the poster child of being exposed as being weak, something we can never let happen to us as men.
So, instead of learning - correctly - that problems, failures, and the inability to win every time is a part of life and true strength is not denying that aspect of life, but learning how to effectively navigate through it in a healthy fashion, we learn that since we cannot live up to the model provided to us, our first priority is learning how to effectively mask our reality. Something to give appearances that we are in control because we all know that having your front exposed is worse than death itself. What this backward thinking has developed is a culture - an international patriarchal culture - that has taught us that we cannot express our fears at being unable to achieve this Batman level of emotional steel. So, we don't. We keep it all in because doing so is what the strong silent type does right? This is the part that's literally killing us. It's killing us because although we have learned to be quite good at putting up that mighty shield, inside, we are mostly a combination of dysfunctional fear and insecurity. That's why the minute we have problems communicating and we get pushed, often by the people closest to us, many of us react with violence and abuse. How dare they put us out there like that? How dare they force us to be honest, right? We look at it in this extremely immature way because we never learned that it's perfectly ok for us to acknowledge that we don't have a clue how to proceed. We don't know how to express our fears. We don't know how to say we don't know how to be Batman.
Actually, I think it's time we said we don't want to be Batman because Batman is a fictional character that will never exist. Unlike him, when we get wounded, it takes us a lifetime to attempt to recover. Especially since we live in a system that constantly perpetuates the causes of our pain. So, unlike Batman, we don't recover quickly. We live as wounded beings. We suffer from a patriarchal system which has betrayed our humanity and a white supremacist system which has dehumanized us. All of this is the byproduct of the capitalist system which picks us apart. The system that is killing us every day, if not physically, then definitely spiritually.
There is good news! We don't have to die from this backward system. We don't have to take out our fears and anger on our mates and the people around us. We can stop this vicious cycle by declaring that the only legitimate violence is against the oppressive system that is exploiting us. And, by saying that I'm talking about organized revolutionary violence, something you need not worry about because we are a long way away from that happening anytime soon. Second, we must acknowledge that we are not in control, but the vehicle to gaining that control is us recognizing we are wounded and that we need help. We need help learning how to be humans. Learning how to get in touch with our fears and feelings of inadequacy and that there is nothing wrong with that. Last Saturday night, while speaking in front of a large crowd, I got emotionally choked up. Previous to that it happened a few weeks before when I was presenting a workshop. It will probably happen again in a venue near you and I'm cool with that. I've learned how to feel pain and process it and I'm healthier because of it. I'm also much more productive and supportive with the people around me. The people who care about me. A woman I was once involved with told me that a man expressing his emotions was too much for her. I didn't know what to say to that then, but I do now. Today, I would say that she really doesn't want a real man. She wants a movie action figure, because a real man is emotional. I'm emotional. I'm also as strong as they come and unstoppable so don't tell me an emotional man is a weak man. An emotional man is a well grounded man.
We need to start advancing a completely different concept of what manhood is. This is true for all men, but especially those of us who come from oppressed communities. If we don't address this, the dysfunction is going to continue to play out in abuse, violence, and self destructive behavior to us and our communities. We need to continue to advance the concepts of the social revolution where we understand we can't change the production apparatus without changing the ideological foundation from which we approach our lives. Men who read this can help by acknowledging that you are not going to play the Batman game any longer. You are going to surround yourself with positive men figures who are working to be complete human beings. You are going to start to learn how to express and let go. Women can help by no longer acting like male emotion is a crime and a sign of weakness. When you see a man express fear and doubt e.g. emotion, don't stare at him like he just defecated in his pants, encourage him. And recognize that we lose nothing by permitting men to be human. We just simply grow as a civilization. As we become more civilized we position ourselves to attack this backward system at its very core. It's then that we are going to be in a real position to win. Without traveling that path and doing this work, all we will ever have is a bunch of fronting men who are unable to be any use to us on things that really matter.