July 18, 2018

The Other Thailand Rescue Story

The 12 young boys and the coach of the Thai Wild Boars soccer team, once trapped in a flooded cave for more than two weeks, are out of the hospital. They are finally going home to loving and tearful families. Like myself, probably you, and the rest of the world, we were all completely captured by this dramatic rescue story and it's very happy ending. I won't repeat the many compelling details of the historic and heroic tale. But I want to suggest that beyond the story about the boys, there is another story just behind the lead. A story I feel accounts for some of its power to capture and hold the world's attention.

That other story is a tale about what I call "men's work." It's about men, who on hearing the call to save the boys, came in droves from all over the world. It's about how all those adult male warriors braved unimaginable dangers and suffering to save the lost young guys. It's really an ancient story about how, down through the ages, when the boys were in danger of being lost to their community, the men came for them. While the Thailand cave rescue is a slightly different narrative, and though we haven't heard this story so profoundly demonstrated in recent times, this is a very old tale.

It's really an ancient story...

In the old days, in almost all cultures all across the world, when the power of testosterone and young male adolescence was changing the young men in dangerous ways, something had to be done. When the boys were getting in trouble, creating chaos in the villages, and challenging the authority of the adults around them, the men came to get the fledgling males. They took the boys away to man's world and repeated rituals and lessons to teach the boys what it means to be a man and help them understand their responsibility to their community. In doing so, the men were civilizing the hatchling males, and, in the process, saving both the boys and their culture's way of life.

I have participated in many different Rites of Passage experiences built on this ancient template. What I know to be true is that this work, men's work, is hardwired into all males. In these passage experiences, without too much training, what I might call the maleness of the dance takes over. Intuitively, men, Elders, and young men all seem to know their place in the sacred drama. The result is always a moving and positive experience for

They were just boys in a pack heading out
on a great young guy adventure
. . . when they got unlucky.

To be clear, the Thai Wild Boars guys were not out of control adolescent males. They were just boys in a pack heading out on a great young guy adventure . . . when they got unlucky. They were at an age where they were beginning to test themselves, on the soccer field or taking risks in a cave. The fates conspired to set up this story of the men coming to save the boys for us all to watch.

I'll not go on here about the countless young males still today who are "trapped" in circumstances that threaten their lives. Boys who today also need the men to show up because they need rescuing. I've often written here about the loud and seemingly unending call for the men in our communities to heroically step into action on their behalf. I think the fact that this call is NOT being answered in so many communities today is another reason the Thailand rescue was so compelling. We all know all so many of our boys are waiting for the men to arrive. It was beautiful to see it played out so dramatically.

At this moment I simply want to honor all the men who heard the call to action in Thailand and around the world, and then showed up. Each of those men who came contributed what they could to the rescue. Especially 38 year-old Lieutenant Commander Saman Gunan, the Thai navy seal who gave his life doing his part to save the boys. Thank you all for giving so much of yourselves and for being such great role models.

The story of the boys rescue, and how relentless and selfless the men who saved them were, fills me with hope. Yet other boys are still waiting and there is still much men's work to do.



CONTACT EARL: Send Earl a message. I'm very interested in your thoughts on any man-making post or topic. I'm also available to help you bring man-making initiatives to your community or organization.

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© Copyright 2005-2018 Earl Hipp. All Rights Reserved.
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June 16, 2018

An UN-Father's Day Message

This is a repeat of an older post describing what Father's Day means to me. It's all still true for me and it feels good to honor my father, father's, and fatherless boys in this way today. It is my intention to run this out every Father's Day.




Fathers, for better and worse, are THE most powerful man-making force on the planet. In this dad season, good fathers are my heroes, and certainly deserve high praise and celebration. That said, here's another way to think about Father's day.

. . . that stew pot of memories
called "Dad" . . .

As the commercial messages about Father's Day bring fathers and fatherhood into sharp focus, for me that stew pot of memories called "Dad," with its very mixed bag of confusing emotions, gets seriously stirred up. From my childhood through adolescence, my dad was lost in his marriage, was sick, and in the throes of alcoholism. While there were some gifts from him, too often he treated me horribly and I've been finding my way back ever since. Even though I know my father was the best dad he was able to be, I'm left feeling the complicated remnants of rage, love, sadness, hopelessness, and a kind of father-hunger driven emptiness at my core.

After years of self-discovery work and digging around in my family history, I've been able to find some true expressions of my dad's fatherly love. Like water in the desert, I treasure those few positive memories. Taken together, they form a small shield I can use to protect myself on Father's Day. At this point in my life, I'm exhausted by both talking and not talking about my dad issues. But when the third Sunday of June approaches each year, for me it's an Un-Father's Day. I find myself looking forward to the relief on the day after Father's Day when it all goes underground again.

In this dad season, I'm also very much reminded of the many men, adolescent males, and young boys I've come across in my man-making work who don't have any good dad memories to use as a defense on Father's Day. In fact, it's quite the opposite. I'm reminded of of all the really bad dad stories I've heard shared across a circle by often sobbing guys.

I'm just saying,
I've heard lots of really bad dad stories.

I have heard from countless men, young men, and boys who have never known a dad because he simply wasn't identifiable, because they were adopted at birth, or because of a court ordered separation from their fathers. There are all the dads who left during pregnancy, or the dads who were shot in the hood from gang violence. Then there are all the kids whose dads are in jail, or lost to PTSD or substance abuse. I remember a soft-spoken boy of ten whose initiation name was Steel Heart. He was in the room when his dad killed himself with a shotgun blast to the head. I'm just saying, I've heard lots of really bad dad stories.


I always wonder if just the idea of Father's Day results in re-wounding these fatherless young males. I wonder if the day stirs up their deep, confusing, profound, and not very well-defended sense of abandonment and father-loss. For them and me, again this year, it will be very much an Un-Father's Day.

So on this Father's Day, if you have the good fortune to have a good dad to honor, count yourself as lucky, and don't miss a chance to say thank you. However imperfectly he fathered you, he was there and doing the best he could do. He deserves to be thanked and celebrated. Thanks Dad, I love you.

After honoring your father, please take a moment to allow into your heart all those tragically abandoned or under-fathered young guys in the world around you. The boys, young men, and men who won't feel those good-dad feelings on Father's Day. Remember that on Father's Day, and every other day of the year, these guys will experience a profound hunger for the blessings that can only come from having a caring father in your life. Remember all the boys and men who, maybe like me, are just hoping all this complicated emotional dad business will pass by soon, go back underground, and that life somehow will get back to a survivable normal on the day after Un-Father's Day.

. . . I believe there is/was a father who loved you.

On my Un-Father's Day card I'd write:
Today I honor good dads everywhere. Thanks you for all you have done and will do. Blessings also on the dads who in some way checked-out, who walked or were not available to their sons, and on the sad legacy they have to live with as a result. And especially, blessings on confused, sad, and dad-hungry males everywhere. Buried underneath all the drama and tragedy that kept you and your father apart, in my heart I believe there is/was a father who loved you.


SHARE: If you enjoy this blog, please click the Facebook "Share" button below to support the Man-Making Facebook page! (The button is only on the MM Blog, and not in subscription posts delivered by email.)


CONTACT: Send Earl a message. I'm very interested in your thoughts on any man-making post or topic. I'm available to help bring man-making initiatives to your community or organization.

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© Copyright 2005-2018 Earl Hipp. All Rights Reserved.
Sharing with attribution allowed. All other use requires permission.

August 15, 2017

I still find myself on a sabbatical, collecting myself for what's next. Thanks for all your emails and messages. I'm really fine. I'm just thinking about the state of the world. I'll eventually get back to acting locally, but for the moment, I'm just trying to get my head around this moment in history.

Sending love and blessings, and here's some waiting room music for you:


If this clip doesn't show up use this link.



CONTACT EARL: Send Earl a message. I'm very interested in your thoughts on any man-making post or topic. I'm also available to help you bring man-making initiatives to your community or organization.

FACEBOOK SHARE: If you enjoy this blog, please click the Facebook "Share" button below to support the Man-Making Facebook page! (The button is only on the MM Blog, and not in subscription posts delivered by email.)


TWEET: Send this post along to your friends or follow me on Twitter!

SUBSCRIBE: If you're not yet a subscriber to the Man-Making Blog, and you'd like to receive these posts by email a few times a month, use this link for a free subscription.

© Copyright 2005-2017 Earl Hipp. All Rights Reserved.
Sharing with attribution allowed. All other use require permission.

June 18, 2017

An UN-Father's Day Message

(This is a re-post of a previous blog post describing what Father's Day means to me. It is all still true for me and it feels good to honor my father, father's, and fatherless boys in this way today.)

Fathers, for better and worse, are THE most powerful man-making force on the planet. In this dad season, good fathers are my heroes, and certainly deserve high praise and celebration. That said, here's another way to think about Father's day.

. . . that stew pot of memories
called "Dad" . . .

As the commercial messages about Father's Day bring fathers and fatherhood into sharp focus, for me that stew pot of memories called "Dad," with its very mixed bag of confusing emotions, gets seriously stirred up. From my childhood through adolescence, my dad was lost in his marriage, was sick, and in the throes of alcoholism. While there were some gifts from him, too often he treated me horribly and I've been finding my way back ever since. Even though I know my father was the best dad he was able to be, I'm left feeling the complicated remnants of rage, love, sadness, hopelessness, and a kind of father-hunger driven emptiness at my core.

After years of self-discovery work and digging around in my family history, I've been able to find some true expressions of my dad's fatherly love. Like water in the desert, I treasure those few positive memories. Taken together, they form a small shield I can use to protect myself on Father's Day. At this point in my life, I'm exhausted by both talking and not talking about my dad issues. But when the third Sunday of June approaches each year, for me it's an Un-Father's Day. I find myself looking forward to the relief on the day after Father's Day when it all goes underground again.

In this dad season, I'm also very much reminded of the many men, adolescent males, and young boys I've come across in my man-making work who don't have any good dad memories at all to use as a defense on Father's Day. In fact, it's quite the opposite. I think of all the really bad dad stories shared across a circle by sobbing guys.

I'm just saying,
I've heard lots of really bad dad stories.

I have heard from countless men, young men, and boys who have never known a dad because he simply wasn't identifiable, because they were adopted at birth, or because of a court ordered separation from their fathers. There are all the dads who left during pregnancy, or the dads who were shot in the hood from gang violence. Then there are all the kids whose dads are in jail, or lost to PTSD or substance abuse. I remember a soft-spoken boy of ten whose initiation name was Steel Heart. He was in the room when his dad killed himself with a shotgun blast to the head. I'm just saying, I've heard lots of really bad dad stories.


I always wonder if just the idea of Father's Day results in re-wounding these fatherless males. I wonder if the day stirs up their deep, confusing, profound, and very well-defended sense of abandonment and father-loss. For them and me, again this year, it will be very much an Un-Father's Day.

So on this Father's Day, if you have the good fortune to have a good dad to honor, count yourself as lucky, and don't miss a chance to say thank you. However imperfectly he fathered you, he was there and doing the best he could do. He deserves to be thanked and celebrated. Thanks Dad, I love you.

After honoring your father, please take a moment to allow into your heart all those tragically abandoned or under-fathered young guys in the world around you. The boys, young men, and men who won't feel those good-dad feelings on Father's Day. Remember that on Father's Day, and every other day of the year, these guys will experience a profound hunger for the blessings that can only come from having a caring father in your life. Remember all the boys and men who, maybe like me, are just hoping all this complicated emotional dad business will pass by soon, go back underground, and that life somehow will get back to a survivable normal on the day after Un-Father's Day.

. . . I believe there is/was a father who loved you.

On my Un-Father's Day card I'd write:
Today I honor good dads everywhere. Thanks you for all you have done and will do. Blessings also on the dads who in some way checked-out, who walked or were not available to their sons, and on the sad legacy they have to live with as a result. And especially, blessings on confused, sad, and dad-hungry males everywhere. Buried underneath all the drama and tragedy that kept you and your father apart, in my heart I believe there is/was a father who loved you.



SHARE: If you enjoy this blog, please click the Facebook "Share" button below to support the Man-Making Facebook page! (The button is only on the MM Blog, and not in subscription posts delivered by email.)


CONTACT: Send Earl a message. I'm very interested in your thoughts on any man-making post or topic. I'm available to help bring man-making initiatives to your community or organization.

SUBSCRIBE: If you're not yet a subscriber to the Man-Making Blog, and you'd like to receive these posts by email 3-4 times a month, use this link for a free subscription.

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April 21, 2017

Grief and Gifts For Boys in Schools

As the school semester winds down, in the boy's support group circles I've been in, we've begun the process of talking about endings and transitions. The end of a school year is coming on fast and in addition, some of the seniors will be leaving and never returning. We want to support the young men through the natural feelings of loss and grief that accompany any form of moving forward in life.

In a culture that doesn't offer us much training in healthy ways to deal with endings, creating a space where it's safe for young men to express sadness, and then help them give a voice to talk about their sense of loss, is really important. It helps them grow their emotional vocabulary and helps them release some of the internal pressure they feel but often can't explain. These are important skills for a young man to have in his tool kit on his journey toward manhood.

... we don't have to teach them to have feelings.
They are full of feelings!

I've written a number of Man-Making Blog posts about helping young males deal with grief and loss. My common reply when asked about boys and emotionality is that we don't have to teach them to have feelings. They are full of feelings! We have to help them find language to sort out and then describe their complex and often pressurized internal emotional experience.

As one early step in the group's transition process, we asked them to answer the question, "What will you miss about our meetings?" Many of the young guys check in saying things like, "I'll miss the brotherhood...," "This is the only place I feel really safe...," "You guys are like family to me...," and "I'm going to come back and visit this group next fall." These are powerful statements about the impact the group has had on them and the sense of loss they are beginning to feel.


In addition to helping young guys develop their emotional vocabulary, here's my list of "gifts" young guys get from being in a support group with caring men. There are many more, but this is a good start.

Ten Gifts Boys Get in Support Groups with Men
  • A safe place to speak their uncensored truth.
  • Adult male allies.
  • Support for their existing life challenges.
  • Good information about life/being a man.
  • An evolving vision of positive manhood.
  • Development of emotional vocabulary – language to describe the complex emotional experiences and feelings they are having.
  • Decompression: To un-shame, not be alone with the anger and pain. To talk about their real-time life challenges.
  • Belonging: Being a member of a good tribe, feeling included, valued, honored vs just a few “what’s up” friends. Experiencing "brotherhood."
  • A place to practice being a man - how they will show up in their lives (authenticity, accountability, responsibility, speaking directly/assertively, supporting others, and giving and receiving constructive feedback, etc.).
  • Praise and honoring from men for who they are, their courage, creativity, intelligence, playful humor, victories, and their aspirations.

A very special thanks to Boys to Men Mentoring of San Diego for this beautiful video, and to the boys from their school circles who are speaking their truth.



If this clip doesn't show up use this link.

If you are interested in launching a support group for young men in a school or church in your community, give me a shout. It's amazing the difference a few caring men can make.



CONTACT EARL: Send Earl a message. I'm very interested in your thoughts on any man-making post or topic. I'm also available to help you bring man-making initiatives to your community or organization.

FACEBOOK SHARE: If you enjoy this blog, please click the Facebook "Share" button below to support the Man-Making Facebook page! (The button is only on the MM Blog, and not in subscription posts delivered by email.)


TWEET: Send this post along to your friends or follow me on Twitter!

SUBSCRIBE: If you're not yet a subscriber to the Man-Making Blog, and you'd like to receive these posts by email a few times a month, use this link for a free subscription.

© Copyright 2005-2017 Earl Hipp. All Rights Reserved.
Sharing with attribution allowed. All other use require permission.