Friday, March 23, 2012

Men: The Passionate Providers

One of the traditional roles for men in families throughout time has been that of provider and protector. Though for the bulk of our history as a species women gathered a greater diversity and quantity of food, men occupied a strong and secure niche as hunters and part-time gatherers. And to the extent that horticulture combined with hunting, men continued to provide with their labor the produce that fed the family.

And although specialization produced the artist, craftsman, shaman, and other unique roles among families and communities, nearly everyone in indigenous societies did--and still does--participate in hunting, gathering, herding, and growing that which sustains the lives of their families.

In a short window of history, sweeping changes to those roles through intensive social specialization and removal of men from connection to the land by industrial societies has brought us to where we are now.

And where we are now is that the repetitive boom-bust cycle and automation of a modern economy displaces millions of men all over the planet from these roles that lie at the very heart of men’s contribution. Most men are not only far removed from the land that feeds them but also removed from most of the important decisions that affect the kind of larger world a man would most like to live and thrive in; the kind of world he would most like his children to inherit.  

How many men today feel secure in the knowledge they can provide for  their family using their own resources: their skills, talents, experience, and the land beneath them?
How many men today stand in their own power knowing that when a threat exists, they are equipped to protect their families?

If these questions seem totally anachronistic in these times when we rely largely on institutions and corporations to do these things for us in return for our working at a job for money, don’t think for a moment these basic roles of provider and protector have gone away for individual men. They are still very much part and parcel of a man’s sense of self and belonging, pride, power, identity, and contribution.
When men who are husbands and fathers use the powerful process called The Passion Test, being a good father, a productive partner, providing for and taking care of the family nearly always turn up in their top five passions. These are often in that list of top passions not just because men sense it is their duty as a man, but because they find great meaning and fulfillment for themselves in that role.

Then the 21st century questions become: How do we as men fulfill that role in ways that most feed our heart and our full creative potential? How do we both make money and keep our souls? And where do we get support to really live that kind of genuine alignment between our passions and how we spend our days?