3.13.2007

Flip Side

From The Bush Diaries, I repost this piece because the site is being abandoned and this post is too good to let disappear.

The author speaks of an elder gathering of men from the ManKind Project. His presentation is that of a letter to U.S. President Bush; the content is beautiful testimony to the lushness of men in the ManKind Project.

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

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The Flip Side


I would not wish to leave you thinking, Bush, that everything up there in Oregon, at our gathering, was doom and gloom. Far from it. The predominant feeling there was joy. What I was speaking about yesterday was only the head part, the intellectual content. It was more than balanced by the heart and soul parts, soaring like the eagle by day and the owl by night above the beautiful alpine valley where we met.

Above all else, I was awed by the quality of these fifty men, and their generous capacity to love and serve. Where else but in a gathering of men of the ManKind Project could I expect to be greeted, a stranger to all but a handful of them, with immediate, heartfelt acceptance and extraordinary warmth? To feel at home at the moment of my arrival? Where else could I feel so free to return that feeling without the least restraint or reservation? These fifty men, each one of them fifty years in age or more, going up to the mid-seventies, represented together more than three thousand years of lived experience. And each one had experienced at least the beautiful, intense, and archetypal drama of the Project’s initial training weekend.

Let me tell you, Bush, about the quality of just a few of these men—-though without the need to name their names. In some cases—-do you know this feeling, Bush?--I dare to know something of their solid hearts and souls without knowing the first thing about the detail of their lives. I think of the man who owned the property on which we met, who devotes his life to the stewardship of this spectacular spot on the Earth’s surface, to the conservation of its natural beauty and the wildlife with which it abounds, and to opening it up for the use of gatherings like ours where men and women explore their relationship to each other and the world.

I think of the man who served his country as a fighter pilot, who brought with him the experience of the true warrior, hardened by the experience of action, but armed within by the breadth of his own understanding and compassion. I think of the man who served his country as a sniper in the early days of the conflict in Vietnam, who brought his anger and his sense of shame for the lives he had taken on the orders of those who commanded him, along with his pride and his contrition.

I think of the man who has devoted his intellectual life to scientific inquiry, and who brought with him the results of his research into the effects of man’s activities on the planet. Of the healer. Of the two men who have brought their knowledge and skills to the service of philanthropy. Of the man who devotes his life to the study of eldership, and the need, in our society, for a healthy understanding of the values of wisdom, experience, ritual, and compassion that come with the accumulation of years. Of the man whose special insight saw the need, twenty years ago, for a new understanding of masculinity and the role of men in the world today, and who—-along with two other men of vision—-pioneered the work that led to the ManKind Project, now an international organization some thirty-five thousand strong.

And of so many others, each with his own gift. The gathering was enriched by the grief of a few who brought the pain of recent losses in their lives, and who were there in part as the reminders of the shared knowledge that, as elders, we are each preparing for our own deaths even as we participate to the full in the richness of life. This was the deep and lasting bass line of the weekend’s music, the source—-along with the majesty of the natural environment--of the sense of spiritual depth that pervaded it.

I believe that it is the work of men such as these, Bush, that can literally save the world. I wrote yesterday about the bleak prospects for a world in which acquisitivness and greed predominate, a world governed by men with neither consciousness nor conscience, men all too ready to exploit the earth’s limited resources for their personal gain. I write today about the flip side of that coin, about men of dignity and wisdom, nobility and compassion who are ready to devote their energies to restoration and renewal, to the benefit of all the living beings with whom they share this planet and its natural resources.

And let’s not forget the element of joy and laughter. It was pervasive, Bush. We were up there somewhere in the treetops with the sheer joy of being there, beyond the foolishness of youth but still able to participate in it, at times possessed of the gamboling spirits of the little kid still alive in each of us.

What a blessing such men are to this country, Bush! I only wish I could see you surround yourself with them as your advisors. Their hearts and minds, both, would serve you well. To me, these elders represent the best hope for our future. I can embrace that lovely irony, Bush. Can you?

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