As I've gotten older and more experienced, I've learned quite a bit about this question of strength. So much so that I think I have a pretty cognitive definition for what a strong man should look like for me now. But, before I give my definition, I have to disclose that my definition, like everything else that happens in this society, is conditioned by the capitalist system which places profit before people. This is a critical component because the value structure that comes with that type of objective permeates everything we do. This is the only way they can get us to cooperate with their agenda because we all know money shouldn't be more important than people, yet we try to co-exist daily with this backward ideology and practice. So, it's important to state that and understand how much this reality influences our abilities to develop healthy and productive ideologies and practices, because it does. Whether you know it or not, it does. So, on to the definition of the strong man...
I believe that a strong man, the man I continue to strive to be, is the guy who learns to be in touch and acknowledge his feelings. He knows when he is afraid, angry, upset, and sad. He doesn't try to deny those feelings or pretend they don't exist. Instead, he fully embraces them and tries his best to work through them in as healthy a way as possible. This means that when he is afraid, he knows it, but the difference with this man is he doesn't let that fear stop him from doing what is right. He finds the strength to deal with that fear and continue forward, working through the discomfort. He does the same with the anger and every other emotion. And in doing so, he admits his errors and shortcomings and he tries to move forward and become a better person. If he follows this path in a sincere fashion, he will develop into a leader which he knows is accurately defined as a person who stands in front, beside, and behind the people, sometimes all at the same time.
I have to admit that I fall far short of reaching all of the objectives I've indicated above. I've admitted in past posts that my personal struggles have caused me to fall short, particularly in the area of relationships. I'm deeply ashamed of this because these behaviors have hurt good people, good women to be precise. I believe a major part of doing this work is recognizing the flaws in the male models that I use for emulation. For example, I have come to realize that all of the men that have served as personal inspirations for my life have all fallen short in the area that I want to improve in - relationships. This may prove controversial to some, but it remains ill refutable. El Hajj Malik El Shabazz - Malcolm X - has served as my ideological father for 35 years. I've studied everything I could ever get my hands on about him. I've physically traveled the pathway of his life, going to Omaha, where he born, Ghana, where his political consciousness expanded, and the Audobon Ballroom in Harlem, where he was assassinated. I've emulated his personal model, deciding as a young man to not smoke or drink. Becoming disciplined in the way I envisioned Malcolm being and everyone who knows me knows this. Still, I have come to realize that Malcolm may not have been the most democratic when it came to decision making with Sister Betty and I need to reconcile this like I have embraced all of his other practices. Ernesto "Che" Guevara, is another long time hero of mine as is Fidel Castro. Both of these men and their revolutionary credentials are unquestionable, despite imperialism's continued underhanded attempts to destroy their legacies. Still, neither of them, especially Che, can be described as the most democratic man when it comes to relationships. In tact, Che's treatment of his first wife Hilda, was nothing short of disgraceful in many ways. The same has to be said of other men I've looked up to like Huey P. Newton and Marcus Garvey. In fact, Huey probably even put his hands on women. None of the above takes anything away from the political contributions of all these amazing men, but if I am going to work on improving my male model, I have to take into account that my role models had shortcomings in the area I need help in. I can't necessarily look to them in this area.
I have a lot of work to do on myself and a lot of work to do in this world. I'm going to continue to speak truth, especially when it's unpopular. And, I'm going to continue to struggle to live truth to the best of my abilities. I will apologize for any hurt I've caused in the past and do the best I can moving forward. I'll continue to push back against this physical domination model for men. I'm going to permit myself to cry at the drop of a hat if I need to express my feelings. I'll continue to speak out to other men on inappropriate ideas and behaviors and most importantly, I'll do my personal feelings work so that any relationships that come my way, I'll be ready to be true to them. At the same time, don't think any of the above means I will make room for people to mess with me because that will never happen. Instead, my mission is to take the best of the physical man and combine it with the cerebral and compassionately honest man. Then, hopefully, when my time is done, I can serve as some sort of model that can contribute positively to this discussion about the new definition of constitutes a strong man. That's my goal. Hold me accountable to it while also supporting me and other men in achieving it. It will only make us better as human beings building the type of world we want and future generations deserve.