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By Jason Samatas, MenLiving Facilitator

Between the recent events in the Middle East, analyzing the political landscape in the United States, and along with a couple of personal issues that arose, I found myself battling with a feeling that I  rarely experience; hopelessness. More specifically, I was feeling hopeless about men, our roles in the world, and the fight for mature masculinity. The attacks on Israel have been devastating, as humankind has once again chosen war as its preferred method to resolve conflict. For me, it has brought forth a sense of darkness as I struggle to see the conflict end before much more blood has been shed.  I certainly hope I am wrong.

On the home front, we begin what is surely to be one of the most negative and corrosive presidential campaigns in recent history, perhaps ever.  We have a congress that remains leaderless, and we have non-stop partisan bickering as many of the problems America faces go unresolved.  There are no easy answers to any of the issues facing our country, but I do get hopeless when I see congressional leaders focusing on partisan agendas, retribution against their political enemies, and other non-essential issues to the American public.

Personally, I recently took a long weekend with some of my old college friends.  We celebrated two of my friends’ turning 50 with some golf, sun, and pool time while in Scottsdale, Arizona.  However, the trip was not as I had hoped.  I realized that much of what my friends and I have in common is far in the past; sure we have great memories and old stories.  But once we got past those and discussed a more than healthy amount of football, we were short on conversation.  We didn’t go deep, we didn’t talk about our fears, and we didn’t talk about our relationships and/or parenting struggles.  Instead of really getting open and vulnerable with one another, we cracked another beer.  While I’m one to certainly enjoy old stories, talking about football and drinking beers, I felt unfulfilled. Put more bluntly, I felt sad.  I felt sad coming to the realization that although these will always be my best friends, I simply don’t have much in common with them anymore.

Taking all of this together over the past few weeks, it seems reasonable to me to feel some sense of hopelessness. I felt sadness and a bit of despair.  But as I hit my low points over the course of the last week, I decided it would be wise to take some time to meditate and breathe.  As I sat quiet with my own thoughts, I came to the conclusion that is absolutely NOT the time to lose hope. The world needs hopeful and optimistic people like me; the world needs men who embody the mature masculine; the world needs men’s groups like MenLiving to continue to provide a space for men to connect, heal and thrive.  The world needs good, mature men and I suddenly felt resolve to maintain my positive outlook on life, love and our human existence.  The biggest lesson I have learned over the past few years is that I always have a choice. I can choose to feel sadness. I can choose to feel dejected. I can choose to retreat from the circles of men who provide support and love.  I can choose to get angry. I can choose to want revenge. I can choose to believe in the darkness of man.

Nope. For me …  I choose hope.


  • Jim Herbert says:

    Beautiful reflection Jason. I’ve had a similar experience the last few times I got together with my friends for a weekend of football, cigars and wine. The conversation often turns to things that are shallow, objectify women and fail to fill my heart. I still have a deep love for these men but I have a hard time enjoying the same things I used to look forward to doing with them. Grateful to you and all the other intentional men who are doing the work to heal themselves and create space for others to do the same.

  • Rob Rubin says:

    Thanks Jason for your reflections. They really resonated with me. I have also found old relationships less nourishing. I have started being more vulnerable with some old friends and most are not in a space to receive or reciprocate. The gold is that I have been able to go deeper with an old friend and that is breathing new life into our relationship. A North Star I have for myself is to surround myself with people who challenge and inspire me and who I can challenge and inspire as well. Men living is a place where I am able to find that nourishment. A question I have found myself asking is “What am I willing to lose for what I desire?” and the answer has been a little painful. I am willing to lose the closeness of relationships which are not nourishing to me. These relationships are people who have been around for much of my life and I recognize that when I try to “hold on” to them it is from a place of codependency or fear and doing so has huge costs to my future growth. With regards to the chaos and turmoil in the world, your reflections also resonate with me. The quote “Never let a good crisis go to waste” -Niccolo Machiavelli comes to mind. Now is the time to double down on my self care. Now is the time to share my wisdom of tools which help bring myself better mental regulation, connection, and growth to new possibilities which many do not know even exist. Now is the time to share my vision of helping to build a community of people who support one another. A community where people model vulnerably their healing paths in order to facilitate greater healing of themselves and inspire the healing of others. A community where people help one another and prioritize each other and the planet over profit. A community where connection is more important than righteousness. With that, I am in brother!

  • Rich Derr says:

    It sounds like a group facclitator (formal or informal) would have been useful. I enjoyed facilitating a Mens group with a county drug/alcohol clinic in CA Bay Area. It was often hard to get “there”-the place you wanted, but a therapist/counselor who is skilled (engender and inspire deeper feelings without being “in charge”) can possibly open up things much deeper. It also takes time-even with old friends. I admired your honesty, even sadness and hopeful mind exercises to ward off the current “glooms”. These are certainly dispiriting times and connection that brings ackowledgement of difficult thoughts and support could help us all.

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