Carrying on with the notes that Robert Campbell wrote down for me to share on this blog about boys’ rites of passage, he says that simply being able to breed allows a man to count as an adult in our culture.
This regardless of a man’s proficiency in surviving in his physical and primitive environment and regardless of his emotional or physical strength, health, and ability to nurture. All that is required, Robert says, is to be capable of the sex act.
Once again I am struck by what this modern-day man has observed, noting things I would never would have thought about. Although I’m not sure I entirely agree with what he’s written, he certainly gives me pause to think about ways our culture and society lets men off the hook for what I consider the true responsibilities of life – namely taking care of oneself, one’s family, and the planet.
So – ok – the modern man can’t necessarily be self-sufficient in his natural environment. How important is this today? I’ll play the devil’s advocate and ask, isn’t the social, economic, political, and spiritual environment just as important or relevant today than mastering the physical environment? Or is that not enough? Should they also be able to find food, build a shelter, or snare an animal? How important is this stuff, really?
Maybe the contemporary meaning of bravery is more applicable in the social sphere? Perhaps it is more important to be brave by speaking up and living a life of social justice and not necessarily being brave and strong in a wilderness setting?
I do think it’s important – and increasingly so – for both men and women to acquire some primitive survival skills and to seek out others who are also working to attain some semblance of self-sufficiency in the natural environment. I believe this is important not only to manage ourselves and possibly even survive in an impending climate crisis, but also because I think it will get us back in touch with a closer relationship with our environment, our local community, and ourselves, ultimately liberating us from an attachment, dependency, and insecurity about material goods.
But I think it’s actually more important – and definitely related to being brave in speaking up for what one believes is morally right, for men to develop a nurturing, selfless, approach to life – especially if they are are on the path to parenthood.
I have many fond memories of nursing my babies while my husband fed me food or drink. Of him noticing when I needed to sit or take a nap or need a pillow. Of him telling me to forget about the housework and to focus on what really mattered. Of him acknowledging and having no resentment about taking second place to the children, especially in the earliest years – an inevitability in child-rearing. And all the while, working together to build a community of like-minded individuals and nurturing souls to get through the times of exhaustion and burn-out.
Of course – community is what we all need – and is crucial to developing a sense of belonging and commitment. It is the first step in establishing in our sons a sense that they count and are needed – whether they breed or not – and in the creation of a meaningful a rite of passage ritual.
I’ll be writing more about community in my next post and incorporating Robert’s thoughts.