August 6, 2007

Men - Collapsing / Rebuilding Bridges

(Short Speech Warning)

Tragically, due to a lack of political will, passing the buck, and a “just get by” approach to transportation funding, a bridge that was a critical piece of the infrastructure of life in our community suddenly just went away. People died and were injured, everyone is in shock, bodies are yet to be recovered, and lives will be seriously disrupted for years to come because of this loss. It is powerful testimony to how easy it is to take the really important parts of daily life for granted. I'm happy to report that Gwen, I, and all our family and friends are safe . . . but I’m a mess.

I find that I’m living with all the uncomfortable but normal feelings that come with grief and loss. Maybe you are experiencing some of this too. On and off I’m feeling sad, very angry, confused, powerless, vulnerable, and a little lost. I know I’m not alone, and I pray this event will launch much needed dialogue about infrastructure . . . not just transportation, but our core national values. That is not what this post is about however.
I pray this event will launch much needed dialogue about infrastructure . . .
I realized that I have those same feelings every time I learn about the loss of an adolescent male to homelessness, violence or the prison system. In too many of those stories you can find the predictable tale of critical bridges to positive adult male influences which, for those boys, have just gone away. Lives tragically lost because of denial, lack of will, a sense that it’s someone else’s job and we can just get by. It's that infrastructure that needs addressing.

These days I’m choosing to NOT take the easy path of denial, powerlessness, and pretending that, as an adult man in my community, I don’t have some piece responsibility for that situation. I’ve stepped into action, the only antidote I know of to living with the feelings of grief. I’m “seeing, acknowledging, and blessing” boys everyday in the ways I discuss in my book. I’m mentoring half a dozen young males to different degrees. I‘ve written letters-to-the-editor, articles, a book, and this blog. I realized that I’m doing the things I can do in order to re-build those critical and life-giving bridges between good men and under-male-nourished boys. I’m not saying this to brag, but to identify what one man can accomplish once he decided to step forward.

I know I’m not alone. This blog and the Man-Making book profiles many heroes in this work. For the most part, they are regular guys who decided to do some little thing and then masculine gravity took over. But we need more help; the problem is too big.

My prayer is that you find the thing you can do to help re-build this critical piece of your communities’ infrastructure. We can't leave it up to "them." There is little question that your involvement, even in some small way, will be life giving, possibly life saving, and change two male lives for the better.

Thanks, I feel a little better.

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