November 27, 2007

Why Men Don't

I'm getting ready to be a staff man on a December Boys to Men initiation weekend in Arizona. Again, there is a chance that the young males who've been chosen, and are already looking forward to the experience with nervous excitement, will be let down by men. At this moment there is some question about whether or not there will be enough volunteer men to staff the event.

I'll own the fact that I do carry a high degree of passion about this work. Over the years I've seen the incredibly positive impact of these weekends in the lives of all the males involved. I also carry a judgment that guiding boys on the path toward a positive and meaningful manhood is ancient and sacred men's work and responsibility. So it's easy for me to be sad when enough men don't show up.

WHY MEN DON'T: In case you're curious why men are not showing up for boys, in droves, all around the planet, here is a PDF article I've written titled, Why Men Don't. It's a summary of responses from my research about the fears, concerns, and vulnerabilities men expressed that keep them from showing up for the many under-male-nourished boys around them.

Another place to learn about the barriers to involvement for men is in the What Men Say section of the Man-Making website. In question 10, I asked men about their resistance to this work with this, "I ask you to look deep in your heart. Ask yourself, 'Are you actively involved, in some way, large or small, in the life of a boy?' If you are, I thank you. If you are not involved, help me to understand why not." You can read men's responses to this question here.

Some of the fears men expressed are appropriate, such as their concern about the sick norm in our culture that causes people to raise an eyebrow when an adult male shows interest in mentoring boys. Other fears and concerns speak to how terribly disconnected men are from both their power as initiators and the terrible need for their involvement.

YOUR COMMENTS: I'd be interested in your perspective. You can comment below on the blog, or send me an email. If your an adult male and you're not mentoring a boy or boys in some form, what are your fears and concerns, what's in the way? By starting with this piece of men's truth we may find the way to get more men involved, and boys served on their mutual journey toward mature manhood.


  1. Carl K.7:21 PM

    I heard a story the other day that fits with this post. You have most likely heard it before ……

    A father, paging through a magazine one day, came across a map of the world. He thought this would be great to give to his 6 year old son as a puzzle, so he cut the page into lots of pieces, and asked his son to put it together. He figured that it would take quite a while and was proud that he could give his son a decent challenge.

    The boy was up to the challenge, and 10 minutes later proudly told his father that he had finished it. The amazed father could not believe that he could have finished something that should have taken hours. When he asked the boy how he finished it so quickly, his son replied,” I found a picture of a man on the other side. As soon as I fixed the man, I found that the world was also fixed”.

    That illustration has helped me to make sure I let my children see me maintaining my integrity with them and with life.

  2. JOE - AUSTRALIA12:34 PM

    Your Man-Making article is great Earl, Thanks.

    My name is Joe and I live in sunny Western Australia, Perth. I was just forwarded your article by a fellow “Pathways” leader. The Pathways Foundation is a not-for-profit organization that has been going for 12 or so years here in Australia. We take boys 12 – 15 years with their dad or other significant male and create a rite of passage into young manhood. The pathways camps are booked up, in WA, months ahead of schedule. We take 16 boys maximum, and we have a staff of around 16 (including some women facilitators who work with the mums).

    There are also ‘Mankind Project’ warrior weekends and subsequent “I groups.” In the last year 150 men have been initiated here in WA and the momentum is growing. Here are the links to these organizations: and All in all men’s work is going well here.

    I agree with your article that it is a sad indictment of society when so many men allow fear to stop them from acting in a way that will bring about a transformation of men, boys, and our “civilization.”

    I’d like to see some coordination of efforts like these worldwide. I’m sure there are many men doing work and getting nowhere quickly, and then getting discouraged or worse just giving up with burn out.

    Blessings - Joe


Your response to this blog post is appreciated and welcome.