Yes. Yes. Yes. We can be all this. We are all this. Kind, gentle, loving, patient, nurturing, artistic, empathetic, dreamers, scared. We can also be all THAT … all that feels opposite to what we see here. All that is hurtful, destructive, ugly, violent, and disconnected from our innate human vulnerability and empathy. And … it should be no surprise to us that both of these possibilities express in the same boy. Sometimes in the same minute. And boys become men. We contain all the collective conditioning of our personal histories, our culture, and every narrative that has found its way into our shadowed beliefs. We can think, feel, and act in ways that are anathema to our most deeply held and cherished values. This is a paradox of masculinity. It plays out every day. No man is exempt.
May it be that we create communities and culture that can contain and protect us from the worst of what we can be. May it be that we create communities and culture that can nourish, support, and celebrate the best of what we may be.
The ManKind Project exists to create spaces for exploration, healing, learning, support, connection, and revelation — the revelation of who we are. Beautiful and ugly. Worthy of love and guilty of perpetration. We continue to learn new lessons about our blind spots, about our transgressions, and about our ability to love and persist, to grow and evolve.
Accountability is one of our core values in the ManKind Project. Along with authenticity, compassion, generosity, integrity, leadership, multicultural awareness, and respect. We strive to live these values in our daily lives. We succeed. And we fail. In fact, without the ways we fail, most of us would never have arrived at this work. Most of us would never have become curious about what else could be possible.
The core of accountability is truth. It is being supported to speak the truth of our congruence and incongruence — without being raised up on a pedestal or condemned to the abyss. It is truth in the face of real impacts that our actions have in the world, regardless of our intentions, promises, or justifications. It is truth that is multi-perspectival and deeply subjective, that changes with time.
Truth is a variable. There are undeniable truths. Data. Facts. They are few. Most of what we call truth is interpretation and negotiation. Interpretation changes. Negotiation is a universal constant. We are reality translators with widely varying levels of experience confronted frequently with languages we’ve never heard. I pray we are gentle with our interpreters and spend most of our time just listening to reality. When we profess our own truth or witness the truth of others, that we hold it delicately.
We cannot reveal our greatest gifts without confronting our deepest darkness. Can we love both? Can we hold the truth of our impacts standing before those we have wounded? Can we own it all without tearing ourselves and our communities apart? Is it possible that this fearful reckoning will create the more beautiful community we know is possible? I hope so.