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.