Friday, October 28, 2011

Agree to Disagree

I am feeling a little distressed and I'm not entirely sure why but I think it has to do with the fact that people have turned my remarks into a battle.  Several of my posts have been slightly controversial and I understand that.  However, it bothers me that some think that someone having a different opinion or belief means that we need to fight to prove the other wrong.   I believe this type of aggression is what gives men the bad name of being unnecessarily aggressive, inconsiderate, and destructive.  All through history war after war after war was fought in order to prove that one person was right and the other was wrong.  In reality no minds or opinions were changed by fighting these wars, people continued having their beliefs but worshiped in hiding or in the safe corners of their minds. 

Look at the Crusades, religious wars, blessed by the Pope and the Catholic church, fought between the years 1095 and 1291.  The Crusades were primarily against those of the Muslim faith who had became a major presence in the city of Jerusalem, a city that was sacred to both Christians, Muslims and Jews.  These wars waged for nearly 200 years and did anyone prove the other wrong?  NO.  Christianity is still the primary religion in Europe and their is still a strong Muslim influence in Jerusalem.

So how is this like today and our situation?  People have differing opinions, there are many different religions and as many ways of understanding those religions as their are people in this world.  We are never going to see eye to eye with everyone on everything.  With that said why do men, and women, tend to think that if someone has a differing opinion then it is their responsibility to prove that person wrong.  Often these people trying to prove the other wrong are those who speak of equality and open mindedness but then brutally attack and insult those who disagree with them, whether that disagreement was aggressive or not.  It would be an amazing thing if people would stop trying to fight all the time and try to understand where the other person is coming from.  Your experience is yours and nobody elses so your opinion cannot be right for everyone.  That holds true to my feelings and beliefs about homosexuality.  Do I think change is possible?  Yes.  Do I think everyone should be forced into that change?  Absolutely not.  Everyone has a different situation in life and the solution to dealing with a situation is not going to be the same for everyone which is why I believe both those seeking change and those wanting to embrace their homosexual attractions should be respected.  There is no reason why people with these two opposing opinions cannot be friends and learn and grow from each other.

I had an experience in a group I was facilitating not too long ago.  The group was for youth in the Juvenile Justice System and was primarily heterosexual young men.  There was one homosexual youth who wanted advice on a relationship he was in.  This youth did not have a supportive family and the only person he cared about in the world was his boyfriend.  In this individual's situation this was what he wanted and what would make him happy and I would not say anything to try and take that away from him, this was the only person he had in the world and I hope they have a wonderful relationship.  On the other hand I worked with another individual who was experiencing these feelings and was suicidal over the thought that he had no choice.  He had been fed the rhetoric that he had to act on and embrace these feelings in order to find true happiness.  He tried that and it didn't work for him and he was now feeling suicidal because what he really wanted in life was a wife and a family.  That individual now has that and could not be happier.  In either of these situations why would anyone want to take that freedom of choice away?  Two people are finding happiness in this life and both people are alive and well because they had a choice. 

So I guess my point in this is to say that my intention of voicing these opinions was not attack or hurt anyone but to present an underrepresented theory that has done good for thousands of individuals.  And just because I hold this opinion as true does not mean I think all people should take this path.  What I wish is that those on either side of this battle could be peaceful and understanding of each other rather than constantly attacking each other and trying to prove their point.  Why can't we just agree to disagree and respect the choices and opinions of others?

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Homosexual Controversy

My article Homosexuality and Masculine Development has received, by far, more hits than any other article, it seems that it has also caused the most confusion and the most controversy.  So I wanted to address some of this confusion and controversy.

Since writing the above mentioned article I have had several people say to me "So you're anti-gay?" and I have had several other people say "So you're pro-gay?"  I am not certain how people got such opposing ideas from the same article but my best guess is that it is because I am neither and peole feel that they have to take a side on this issue.  The one thing that I am completely pro is the choice of individuals to choose for themselves.  I believe those who choose to act on their homosexual feelings have a right to do so.  They have every right to choose for themselves what is right for them and I have no right telling them what they should do with their life.  So am I anti-gay?  Not at all I know many amazing homosexual people who are great individuals.  So why do people think I am anti-gay?  This I believe comes from the idea I presented that those who have these feelings but do not or cannot find happiness in a gay relationship have the right to work through and if desired overcome these attractions.  Many people see this as being anti-gay because I put forth the idea that change is possible which popular media has presented as impossible.  Therefore if I support that idea then I am "trying to change people because I hate gay people."  This is a very abrupt and in my opinion rude assumption as my only motive in presenting this idea is to protect the rights of those experiencing these feelings but are distressed by them.  It has nothing to do with hate but everything to do with acceptance.  People who have these feelings but are working through them form a culture of support for each other that is just as real and should be just as respected as those living an active gay lifestyle.   So in a nutshell I am neither anti-gay nor pro-gay but support the rights of individuals to choose the life they want to live. 

Some of the controversy that was presented to me is that helping people overcome these feelings and the processes involved don't work, are detrimental to individuals, and often push individuals to suicide.  This is all very false information put out by many very loud pro-gay individuals who believe that change efforts are "anti-gay" and that by allowing them to happen will take away their rights.  The truth of this is that this type of therapy does not hurt an individual and it does work; however, just like any therapy it is not going to be able to help everyone.  In any therapy a huge part of success has to do with the individuals commitment to the processes.  If an individual is not committed to the change or isn't sure if that is what they want or buy into the constant stream of media saying that change is not possible, then change is going to be very difficult.  In addition many of the issues under these feelings are extremely difficult for some individuals to talk about and some are never able to.  You see this occur in any other type of therapy as well.  Some very important issues for people to talk about are the issues they can't get themselves to address.  So the "lack of success" that we sometimes see in this type of therapy is really no different from that of other therapy addressing other issues.

Now, the second controversy is that these efforts are detrimental to an individual and can cause suicide.  This could not be more wrong.  Many of the techniques used in helping an individual overcome this has absolutely nothing to do with their homosexual feelings.  It has to do with many other hurtful things that have happened in their past and working through those issues.  Therefore many individuals who engage in this therapy, even if they don't completely overcome their feelings, find themselves happier in life because issues that were bothering them have now been resolved.  So what about suicide?  There is a loud opinion out their that says by telling people they can change will cause people to commit suicide as "change is not possible" and therefore the letdown of this expectation pushes people to take their lives.  I disagree wholeheartedly.  I'm not sure who said it but I heard at a conference one time that "suicide is caused by hopelessness and hopelessness is caused by lack of options."  I believe what pushes people to take their lives is anyone telling them they have no other option.  I know many people who were pushed to contemplate suicide because they were told that accepting their feelings and living a gay lifestyle was the only option.  just as I believe telling people they have to overcome their feelings can push people to the same thing.  people need options because lack of options makes people feel that their situation is hopeless and therefor take extreme measures.

In conclusion am I anti-gay?  No!  Am I pro-gay?  No!  I believe individuals need to choose the course of their own life and I believe the two sides of this political debate need to be more accepting of each other because it is that malicious in your face agenda that is causing the hopelessness and suicide.  I believe that addressed all the confusion that was presented  to me.  IF their is any other I would love to address that as well.

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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Forgiving the Student Loan Debt

For over 30 years, the rich have gotten richer, the poor have gotten poorer, and the middle class is slowly but surely being squeezed out of existence. Instead of more of the same corporate welfare/"trickle-down" economics that have been an abysmal failure for the middle class, why not try a trickle-up approach to rebuilding our economy by targeting relief at those most likely to actually help grow the economy?

This type of debt is keeping many men from supporting their families the way they want to and should be able to.  They are told that an education is the way to better their life but are realizing in our current economy that they would have been better off working minimum wage because at least then they wouldn't have the debt to repay.  Student loans have been set up in such a way that many individuals will be paying them off for their entire lives.  IN our current economy individuals are being punished for educating themselves.  Schools, especially for advanced degrees ,which grants are not available for, and are necessary for many jobs now days, are charging out of control tuition that make loans necessary but these loans are near impossible to pay back.

I signed a petition to The United States House of Representatives, The United States Senate and President Barack Obama, which says:

"Forgiving the student loan debt of all Americans will have an immediate stimulative effect on our economy. With the stroke of the President's pen, millions of Americans would suddenly have hundreds, or in some cases, thousands of extra dollars in their pockets each and every month with which to spend on ailing sectors of the economy. As consumer spending increases, businesses will begin to hire, jobs will be created and a new era of innovation, entrepreneurship and prosperity will be ushered in for all. A rising tide does, in fact, lift all boats - forgiving student loan debt, rather than tax cuts for corporations, millionaires and billionaires, has a MUCH greater chance of helping to rise that tide in a MUCH shorter time-frame. The future economic success of this country is wholly dependent upon a well-educated, prosperous middle class. Instead of saddling entire generations with debt from which there is no escape, let's empower the American people to grow this economy on their own!

Therefore, we, the undersigned, strongly encourage Congress and the President to support H. Res 365, introduced by Rep. Hansen Clarke (D-MI), seeking student loan forgiveness as a means of economic stimulus."

Will you sign the petition too? Click here to add your name:


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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Winter Past Times

Sadly, at least in Utah, summer is gone and winter is quickly approaching.  The temperatures have dropped, the jackets have come out and the mountains are capped with snow.  This is a sad time for me for several reasons.  First, all those fun summer activities are going to have to wait until next summer, I will soon have to wear 4 times as much clothing, My feet will always be wet,  I have to drive in the snow, and the worst is I will likely gain 30 pounds before it warms up again.

If you are like me winter takes it's toll in regards to my health, particularly my weight.  Not only am I bombarded by holidays that are accompanied by an over abundance of delicious treats but I become much more inactive as I don't really feel like going out into the freezing cold to get exercise and there seems to be much less one can do sports wise when there is several feet of snow on the ground.  Despite these unfortunate circumstances I plan on not letting my weight get out of control this year.  So I have decided on several winter past times that I will use to keep in shape and I will throw a few more out there that you could try.

This would have to be my number one winter past time.  Sorry skiers, I'm a boarder but both are excellent ways to stay in shape in the winter months.  Both sports work to keeps you physically fit in just about any way you could be fit.  The biggest drawback to this sport is that it can be really expensive and you usually have to travel to do it.  So when I can't go snowboarding my second favorite winter past time is

This is a sport that I have realized many people are not familiar with at least as a sport.  In reality snowshoeing is your winter alternative to hiking.  During the summer I love to hike which is where I get the majority of my exercise, so Snowshoeing is an excellent way to replicate this same activity in the winter months.  In many ways snowshoeing adds an additional sense of adventure to your hikes.  In the summer you generally have to stay on a trail but in the winter time the trails are not visible so you have open range to go wherever you want; however, be careful because getting lost is easy when you have no trail to follow so make sure you are keeping tabs on where you are going and how to get back to where yous started.  Snowshoes also make it possible to climb otherwise impassible hills, and to slide down those same hills which would probably kill me in the summertime.  SO in a nutshell I love snowshoeing and would recommend it to anyone.

Ah sledding.  The joy of winter as a child.  I remember staring out the window watching the snow fall waiting for it to get deep enough for me to be able to sled on it.   I'm not sure why but many adults abandon this pastime as they get older.  it is unfortunate really because sledding is awesome and it is a good workout.  Running back up that hill will give you more of a work out than any treadmill or elliptical ever could.  If you need an excuse grad the kids and take them to the nearest hill and sled.  You didn't regret it as a kid and you won;t regret it now. 

Ice climbing
Ice climbing is something I have never tried and don;t really have much of a desire to try but it is pretty sick watching guys do it.  basically the winter version of rock climbing, ice climbing is the process of climbing frozen waterfalls.  I have always been turned off by this sport because I have this horrible fear of a huge chunk of ice breaking off and taking me down with it.  but don;t let my fears scare you.  IF you are the adrenaline type you should probably try ice climbing and from what I hear you will love it.

ice skating
If the above sports are too extreme for you ice skating is always a calmer alternative.  In reality ice skating is as extreme as you make it but usually a nice stroll around the ice is a safe fun way to exercise when it's cold outside.

SO this winter get out and do something.  There is plenty to do to keep yourself fit so find a new hobby or resurrect an old one and if non of this appeals to you you can always go run on the old treadmill but don't be surprised if I think your lame.

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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Addictions: The Greatest Enemy to Modern Men.

Addictions are becoming a massive problem in our society.  Drugs, alcohol, sex, pornography, over eating, gambling are just some of the many addictions that plague our modern world.  I honestly don't know if it is any worse today as it was 100 years ago but regardless it is a problem.  In my work as a therapist I have not met a single person who does not suffer from some sort of addiction, and all of those addictions are affecting the lives and the lives of the families of those individuals.  They curse these compulsive behaviors but often feel they lack the ability to control them.  How do you know if you have an addiction?  What makes an behavior an addiction?  What is the difference between why someone drinks when he goes out to dinner and another becomes an alcoholic?  Why can one person go to Vegas and gamble a bit on vacation but another can't seem to control the urge to place a bet?  The answer is in what an addiction actually is.

Everything we do in life we do for a reason.  We eat to live and to socialize and we exercise to keep our bodies healthy. If food tasted disgusting and made us unhealthy we would not eat.  If exercise made a us gain weight and brought us closer to death we would avoid it.  My point is, as stated above, that everything we do, we do for a reason.  That includes addictive behaviors.  Addicted individuals do not just engage in their addictive behaviors for fun or leisure.  If that was the only reason they would be able to control the behavior.  Addictions serve a purpose for the individual they are a way for a person to self-sooth.  It is a way for an individual to leave behind something that is difficult for them to deal with.  Even if just for a few minutes their mind can be on something other than their lost job, their divorce, the bills, the loss of a loved one, or a million other things that could plague an individual in life.  For a short time they can retreat to a place where they feel "safe" from their worries.  When someone is looking at porn they are not thinking about anything but the image and the feelings of endorphins running through their body.  When someone is on drugs they receive a small dose of overpowering pleasure that overwhelms any feelings of stress or sadness.  For a few minutes they are free from the pain. 

We live in a high stress society.  We work long hours at jobs and come home to more responsibilities.  We engage in outside activities such as teams or clubs in order to alleviate the stress but many times just causing more.  We deal with the worry of our families and the negativity that they are exposed to.  Divorce rates are high and financial strain is nothing new to people.  Some are dealing with things much deeper such as abuse, or self-hate stemming from a lifetime of contributing factors.  We create a world of stress with very few outlets, so we turn to alcohol, drugs, sex and food to escape.  The problem is that these activities will never provide us with happiness.  They might give a small taste of manufactured happiness but all that is, is pleasure and pleasure doesn't last.  The effects will wear off and then we either need to address the problems or continue avoiding by delving into more addictive behavior.  The problem is that this pleasure coming from addiction doesn't fix what is under the addiction so no matter what we do the root survives and the addiction keeps popping up.  We may go to step-meetings or remove ourselves from our friends who support the activity but unfortunately if the root is never killed the weed of addiction will always grow back.

So deal with your problems, that sounds easy enough?  So why do so many people struggle year after year with compulsive addictive behavior?  The problem lies in the sad fact that our hectic society creates stress which leads to addiction but our society also tells men that it is unmasculine to deal with your problems, especially those that are emotional, which many are.  Men are not permitted to feel so they suppress their feelings with alcohol, drugs, sex, or, fill in your addiction _________.  They feed into the lie that men don't cry and men don't feel anything except anger and happiness.  So what is a man to do?

Well, a man needs to be a man and stop running from his problems.  That may sound harsh but I believe it needs to be said bluntly.  Stop being a wuss and face yourself.  The most courageous thing a man can do is face the battle within.  It is a place that many men fear more than any other place in the world.  The realms of our soul is where the true battle to freedom lies.  Many men are bound by their addictions and lack the confidence to break free.  Interestingly the word for addiction in Dutch in verslaved meaning enslaved.  I think this word describes addiction perfectly.  Someone who is addicted has no freedom.  Their life is controlled by something outside of themselves.  Men, take your lives back and free yourself.  you will never reach your potential or your goals in life until you are able to break the bonds of your addiction and face your problems head on.  How do you know what you need to address?  Take a good look at yourself and address the thing you want to avoid the most.  That is likely the main root of your problem.

In dealing with the problems under your addiction you are going to have to break another societal norm and that is you need to trust in your buddy.  You need support from other men and that does mean you might need a shoulder to cry on.  If you are married you will need support from your wife as well but the support you can get from your brothers is irreplaceable.  Depending on how deep you are willing to go you could join a men's circle such as The Mankind Project, or you could see a therapist to help you sort out some deep rooted problems.  Whatever you do, do not face these shadows alone. 

So, in conclusion, be a man and do  what you need to do to be a better man!  Stop letting your addictions control you, take control of your own life and your own destiny.

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Cool Manly Gear: Leatherman

Another piece of gear that has brought me much pleasure and has gotten me out of a few tight spots is my trusty Leatherman Multitool.  Now I know Leatherman's are nothing new but that does not lessen their coolness.  For those not familiar with a Leatherman it is a pocket knife Which has everything from pliers to screw drivers.  I use it more than any other tool because it is always conveniently in my pocket and does most of what I need a tool for.  A Leatherman should be a staple in any manly tool arsenal.  If you don't have one you should definitely consider purchasing one.  Now make sure not to be fooled, there are many Leatherman rip offs which are cheaper but definitely do not ahve the durability or the warranty of the Letherman. There are many different styles of Leathermans that provide more or fewer features depending on how prepared you want to be.  The style I always have on me is the Leatherman Kick Which just like all of Leatherman's stuff kicks ass!

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Battles for the Modern Man

Are the days of true battles over?  It may seem strange but at times I am saddened that I will never have the opportunity to defend my family in a sword fight, or that I will never need to go hunt a deer with a bow and arrow out of necessity,  that I will never be able to stand and fight for my country on a battlefield in the traditional sense.  It seems that the days of these battles are over.  They have been replaced by police officers, security systems, governments with large military, grocery stores etc.  Even the real battles in real wars today seem to have lost a sense of nobleness.  Now don't misunderstand me, I think those soldiers fighting for their country's freedom are extremely brave and I am grateful for them.  But the battles definitely seem to have lost a sense of nobleness  This seems due to there rarely being any kind of confrontation with the enemy as they are shot at from long distances or completely taken out with a missile.  It seems that the once noble battles we see in movies such as Braveheart, Gladiator, the Patriot, and Lord of the Rings, are a thing of the past.  Now I know these are movies but they do depict a world that in someway is lost and that we as men today will never have the opportunity to experience.  Unfortunately I think that this is something that men crave.

Men crave the hunt, the adventure, the battle.  Sadly that craving is left unsatisfied for many men.  Instead men create battles and adventure by taking up extreme sports like rock climbing or snow boarding, or they jump on anything that will go fast because a motorcycle will always add some excitement to an otherwise mundane day.  Men scramble to fight over a tag that will give the opportunity to kill a deer or elk, something that at one time humans did just to survive is now just a sport.  We box, and play football, wrestle, and race just to find a bit of excitment.  Some young men we see joining gangs which really are just a creation of a war that in reality does not exist.  It's a game, a dangerous and illegal one but a game nonetheless.  Kids choose sides and colors, make teams, then go out fighting and killing each other over protecting their "turf" when in reality they have no real idea what it's about except it's exciting and "fun".  The need for men to have a battle to fight is imperitive to a mans soul.  Wthout it he loses his purpose and life becomes meaningless.  Sadly many men have a very real feeling of meaninglessness in their lives.  Men need to create adventure and battle in their lives.

So how do we do this?  We can't very well start sword fighting in the street,  it's illegal and, well, lets face it you'll look like a freak.  So how do we find the battle in our lives, where is the fight for the modern man?

The fight is where you make it.  The fight is where you find it.  The fight comes from within, and if it doesn't it lacks the purpose that you need it to have.  To find your fight ask yourself, what is important to me and of those things that are important what needs to be fought for?   There are a lot of things in the world today that are fighting against men and plenty of causes that need a stronger backing by courageous men.  There are so many things fighting against our rights as fathers, our rights as husbands, our right to believe what we wants, the rights of our families, and the right to be men.  Our freedom is in jeopardy and we often sit passively by and hope that someone else will take care of the problem and then when nobody does we complain quietly in our homes and never do anything about it.  Men, there are so many negative things in this world that are making it so hard to be a good father and to keep our families safe, both physically and morally.  Stand up for yourself and your way of life and fight!  Find your cause and go to battle.  The world isn't getting better and if nothing is done it will be a very sad world indeed to have to leave our children behind in.

There still are battles to fight, they are different but real and just as important for our families as the battles fought in ages past.  Our families still need protecting from the evil influence of media, pornography, drugs, gangs, immorality, and other destructive views that are becoming a "mainstream" way of thinking.  so step into the protector inside of you, that is part of every man, and do what you need to do for your family and for yourself.  Find your battle and fight.

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