A different Kind of Investment

By James Monkton

Outside of acting, Kevin Bacon performs country music with his brother in a band called, unsurprisingly, The Bacon Brothers. The only song of theirs that I know, Only a Good Woman, lays down what it is to be a man. The Bacons run through the whole gamut of defining moments and characteristics that supposedly play a part in (insert deep voice) what makes you a man. In wonderful rhyming country couplets they list everything from years to beers, tattoos, booze, scars, fast cars, kicking arse in bars, being a sexist, driving a Lexus, drugs, hugs, hanging with the thugs…you get the picture.

What else can be added to that list? Getting laid, having and raising kids, peeing standing up, paying bills, supporting your family, opining on the Bok line-up, scratching your nuts? Even if all these characteristics and behaviours play a part in the make up a man, the question remains, is that enough? What about being a good man, being the best man you can be, neither overbearing nor weak, neither a ‘doos’ nor a doormat? The cries ring out from glossy mags to book clubs and back again, “where are all the good men?” The answer is that we are here. We’re just so used to bottling up, being labelled and told what mask to put on, what to do, think and feel…who we should be, that many of us are wandering aimlessly being the people we never intended or wanted to be and living lives we’d rather not.

Richard Tosi has nothing to do with The Bacon Brothers, but he knows plenty about what it is to be a man. A former Marine, Tosi along with two other men, Bill Kauth and Ron Hering, founded The Mankind Project in 1985. Describing itself, the ManKind Project is a progressive educational men’s organization. What does that mean? Put simply, it empowers men to develop lives of integrity, accountability and connection to feeling. It will challenge you to develop as a man, as a father, a son, a leader, elder, husband or partner.

Tosi, Kauth and Hering founded the MKP in response to the feminist movement in the United States. By response, it wasn’t in opposition, but rather to provide similar support for a generation of men who were missing something. At once a part of first world society that civilised men, but also removed them from the processes of initiation, hierarchy and trust of both other men and women, the typical man was raised by a distant, strong-silent-type of a father, doted on by his mother and taught to surpass and subjugate instinct and emotion in his relationships. The result by and large, is modern man, a guy who wears the appropriate masks at the appropriate times, but deep down, feels fraudulent and unfulfilled either with his family, in his career or with himself. Perhaps all three. Instead of carrying on the charade of musical masks and to develop trust between men, Tosi, Kauth and Hering devoted themselves to developing a modern day initiation for the modern man (if the idea of initiation conjures up images of funnelling a case of beer through someone’s cricket box and being tied up naked next to a railway track, forget about it, this is something different).

In participating in the ManKind Project, you’ll start with the New Warrior Training Adventure or (NWTA), which while it may sound like SWAT training meets summer camp, is not. It’s a weekend for all men regardless of color, class, sexual orientation, faith, age, ability, ethnicity, and nationality, but one which will probably challenge and change you like you’ve never been before. Offering men a powerful, challenging educational experience to look at all aspects of their lives in a richly supportive environment, it’s a weekend in which you’ll learn to forge a deep conscious connection between head and heart. You’ll also probably engage in a level of trust and honesty with yourself and other men that you’ve never glimpsed before.

Try answering this honestly. Do you ever get the feeling you’re stuck? That there’s something blocking your emotional progress, your development as a husband, a father, a son, even something you can’t get past in the work place…a repetitive, negative practice? Perhaps you know that deep down you’re dishonest, sexist, racist, cowardly and you don’t like it. Perhaps you are none of these things, but you’re seeking some kind of growth in your life. The NWTA is about facing your shadows, embracing the positive nature of our masculine natures, rejecting toxic masculinity and committing to living a life centred in accountability and integrity. By acknowledging the demons you have within, you’ll be better equipped to face the ones the outside world throws at you in the form of your relationships, career and life’s more serious obstacles.

Other than the fact that you may be considering it, the next NWTA in August in South Africa is a special as it will be facilitated by Richard Tosi himself. That’s like having one of the three wise men lurking around your manger, Einstein helping you with your science homework or Bono playing your Bar Mitzvah. Along with the other men of the ManKind Project, Tosi brings a wealth of exceptional experience, an open heart and amazing leadership to South Africa’s men as they engage in self-examination devoid of the everyday masks we put on to keep up appearances within our communities, circles of friends and spheres of influence.

So, here’s an idea to consider. Take into account the recession and the car, high-def TV, holiday you’ve had to put on hold… and invest in yourself for a change. The short-term cost is low and the long-term gains stratospherically high. As theManKind Project website says, “Sooner or later, the material life gives way to the interior life, and we have only one place left to go to discover the real richness of our lives – inside our own hearts and souls. If you are a man ready to invest in his own heart, the NWTA may be for you.” The ManKind project are trying to change the world one man at a time.

You can be next.