Welcome, the Millennial Man
After my last, fairly hard hitting article, I wanted to follow up with a much more optimistic observation of today’s young men.
Alongside the young men I spoke of, who randomly punch people, who drown themselves in alcohol, and who denigrate of women, there is a new breed emerging, a new kind of man that doesn’t seem to make the news headlines.
I get to meet many inspiring people through my work as a coach and counsellor, and I have the great privilege to be invited deep into the personal lives of a diverse range of men . Over the last few years I have been especially impressed by many of the young men of the millennial generation that I have come into contact with (aka Gen Y or those born in and around the turn of the 21st century).
A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to attend the Global Rites of Passage Leadership training facilitated by Dr Arne Rubinstein, author of The Making of Men. There was a beautifully diverse group of 30 men and women participating aged from 23 to 62. The range of wisdom and experience in the group was tantalisingly rich.
On our first morning we gathered in circle and did the usual round of introductions. Part way around the circle we came to a young man in his early twenties. He was clearly emotional. With tears welling in his eyes and with a shaky voice he shared the intimate details of the rocky path that brought him to this program, details of which will remain in that circle.
This was a poignant moment and I felt the atmosphere in the circle become electrified. We as a group instantly dropped into a new depth of understanding and mutuality. This young man’s openness gave us all permission to open, to empathise and to feel. His vulnerability brought the group into our own individual hearts and thus the group heart was born, alive and beating.
There were several other young men in the group who impressed me equally. I heard stories of confusion and disappointment, of passion and inspiration. But what impressed me the most in these young men was their willingness to bare their souls to a group of total strangers, to speak from such depth of feeling and raw honesty, to utterly refuse to conform to the old and outdated, stoic, unemotional and rationalistic norms of manhood.
I strongly believe that what I am repeatedly observing here is something new, important and exciting. What I do know for sure is that my observation is worlds apart from what I knew at that age.
Spiritual teacher and author Marianne Williamson recently stated that “Established powers are losing their hold — politically, economically and …in every other way…”
Millennials know this in their bones. They see the status quo just isn’t working, and while some attempt to quash the discomfort that comes with this knowledge through drugs, alcohol, video games, porn or any of the myriad distractions of the day, there are also vast numbers of men who are fired up, impassioned, ready and willing to stand beside their female peers and drive humanity on to our next phase in evolution, whatever it takes.
Williamson goes on to say “A new consciousness of love, connectivity and reverence is emerging from the bottom of things and nothing will ultimately stand in its way. Humanity is subconsciously seeking to re-organize itself, and the impulse to do so is more powerful than any forms of external resistance.”
I believe this is exactly what I am paying witness to here; a radical evolutionary response to today’s global challenges.
Of course every generation judges the previous inferior, sees their errors and vows to be better. This is nothing new. But the millennials have inherited a world in crisis. Never before has humanity faced ecological, economic, political and social challenges to such a cataclysmic degree. As Einstein said,”We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” The required response to our global challenge needs to be born from a new consciousness; a new way of seeing, being, doing and relating.
To meet these global challenges I believe the world requires a new kind of man; a man who can show up with his head, his heart and his balls in alignment. A man who wishes to connect with others in community, and stand shoulder to shoulder with women to do the work together. A man who is furiously determined to do a much better job with this world than his predecessors. A man who seeks to love, protect and serve the feminine in all of her forms; in nature, in women, in children and in himself and his fellow brothers.
I believe the millennial men hold critical keys for today’s evolutionary dilemma. I also feel strongly that it is our role as the previous generation to hold the space for them to emerge, to welcome them in, to nurture their gifts and to help them lead the way as friends, allies and mentors. Definitely not to wilfully hand over the baton and leave them to it, or look on in judgement and condescension, and definitely not to pretend we know what it’s like to be born into this world at this time and tell them how it’s done.