Today I want to have a heartfelt conversation with my fellow men. So if you are not a man, please close your eyes and assume you did not see this article or modestly move on to the next article. Hahaha!
It is a fact that men are undergoing an unprecedented crisis of identity and purpose. More than ever before, men are struggling with simple yet deep questions like: what is the fundamental role of a man today? What responsibilities are unique to the role of a father and husband? To what extent does my ego hinder my progress? Why do I find it difficult to share my struggles with others?
These weighty questions are weighing us down. We are struggling to find answers even as some of us wallow in depression. According to the World Health Organization, more than twice as many males die due to suicide as females. Many morgues in Kenya attest to this.
Indeed, men are facing a myriad of challenges that range from joblessness, wealth management to marital breakdown and relationships. Fortunately, we can support each other once we deal with the following three internal challenges.
Firstly, the older you get and particularly upon attaining the age of thirty years, men do not want to be seen to be incompetent. It’s as if a light bulb in our heads goes on, reminding us that we are no longer young and must therefore start ‘becoming successful.’ Accordingly, competency ‘must now become’ a critical part of our identity. I have experienced this in creative pursuits like choral music where I am part of the Men’s Choral in my Church. No man is comfortable presenting himself to hum in public until and unless they have thoroughly practiced. On the other hand, women can confidently jump on stage and learn a song as eyes and cameras are on the roll.
Appreciating this fact therefore, as men we need to embrace vulnerability. This will not only release our long overdue emotional remunerations but also deliver unmatched conviction to handle any societal challenges head on. The lack of this suggested application may be partly why our two male-led major political coalitions can’t seem to find that common ground upon which they can build a better Kenya in a complementary manner. In the same vein, it’s not accidental that most chamas are dominated by women.
Secondly, men seemingly pretend that we do not know that we mostly struggle about the same things. If it is not about money, women or families then it will be about relationships and such like issues. This is where we mask ourselves with big cars, big watches and football game talks. The moment we stop hiding behind our bravado and deliberately choose to learn from each other then we will start our societal journey towards transformation.
Thirdly, it is a fact of life that men want to be pursued. This is not about craving for attention but rather ‘I have something very important to say but won’t say it unless the other respectfully asks me’. Accordingly, we keep missing each other because we expect the other man to ask us a question which they end up not asking. The solution to this hugely concealed challenge lies in genuinely loving each other. Godly love. That love that is variously depicted in The Holy Book that states, “love your neighbor/ your enemy as you love yourself”. Such love is the secret heat that melts men leading them to honestly and proactively participate in dealing with our societal challenges.
As men we must appreciate that we face unique challenges including, the richer you get the lesser the genuine friends. We must therefore deal with these three inhouse challenges so that we create great relationships and families which are the most powerful units of societal transformation and sustainable economic growth. Hey, don’t tell the ladies what we just discussed hahaha. Think green and act green!