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A Conversation Amongst Men - Part 1

This is part one of a conversation with David Richeson, James Reardon, and Junod Etienne, the presenters of the May 2014 Workshop titled What is Being a Man? The interview was conducted by David Owens at the Institute for Hermetic Philosophy's midtown Manhattan space.

David Owens: "Why did you decide to offer a workshop for Men only?"

Junod: I think the best answer to that is that men in today’s society face so much pressure just to be men. If you look at our role models and the people we pattern ourselves after, look at 007, UFC fighting, even when the president of the United States gets up to give a speech, he has to project what we think of as a commonly manly attitude in order to get a positive reaction. Men have a lot of pressure to fit a common mold that in many ways is not good for us. We figured that having a forum to talk about our issues and talk about the pressures that we feel, which is something that we’re not “supposed to do”, is a good way to open up to some new territory that we don’t usually get to explore.

David Richeson: There’s something I’ve learned here at IHP: that the art of being a man is a lost art. We get so many images of how you should be from the outside, but when it comes to a real internal feeling of what its like to be a man, to have honor, to keep your word, to have a wellspring of masculinity, it's a lost art – I know my father didn’t know it, his father didn’t know it, it's a lost art. So beyond just a workshop for men, but this institute doing a workshop for men, there is a lot of power in that.

David Owens: "In your experience, what are the most common issues for men, especially men who are trying to be more aware of themselves in life?"

James Reardon: First of all, this subject is a taboo. There is an unspoken code among the average man that you don’t talk about this. You don’t show a chink in the armor. That it's a jungle out there – And you get up, go out, put on your armor, and you do battle. That’s a game of diminishing returns over time. What I’ve experienced in myself is, by trying to fit the mold, I’m slowly internally ground down. I’m trying to fit myself into a machine, almost dehumanize myself in order to fit today’s “ideal” of what it means to be a man, which is a distorted perverted ideal. So it's a breath of fresh air to be able to expose my real issues, seeing them, accepting them, and learning to take responsibility for them, I find I’m moving more toward peace, self-respect, self-esteem, all these things.

David Richeson: I would say the ability to be vulnerable, and find strength in vulnerability, and not being afraid of it - growing this internal strength, then with this strength I can start to build real character traits like having my word, having honor, being chivalrous, the things that the knights used to have. I don’t mean pretending to be a knight, but working on those internal virtues by first being honest with myself about what I need to work on to have those qualities, and slowly day by day, brick by brick actually having a stronger word, being able to be a stronger man - but from the inside out, not from the outside in.

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Junod Etienne May 06, 2014 2 tags (show)