Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Toughest place to be a man

The toughest place to be a man is right here in the 21st century. “Man under fire” is the new buzzword for intelligent feminists everywhere. Certainly some men need a rocket strapped to their derrieres to get them moving but men are having a hard times in the bleak house of modern relationships.

Men are a different kind of animal and every woman knows it. It’s preposterous to ever believe that woman was created from the rib of man…surely from his first (and maybe last) brain cell! To be fair, men are from Mars so those of us on Venus are not surprised by their antics.

Being a man is tough and being a real man even tougher or near impossible. A man does the bare minimum and a real man goes the extra mile. There are some who fall into the latter category but too many of the former.

A man only changes for the better when he’s put under extreme pressure from either being thrown into prison for a long stretch or when there’s something in it for him. The selfish gene is live and kicking and can be evidenced daily by the most innocuous of tasks.

Just ask the man (or men) in your life to cut the grass, empty the trash, put up decorations or paint or  fix a shelf then you’ll notice an intertia that takes hold. Men are made of resistant materials and their reluctance to remain on task can be incredulous.

You have to have a little sympathy for a man since they’re trying to emulate the superior sex and they’re lagging far behind in the high performance stakes. The most important thing is that they’re trying……maybe too trying!!

In the 21st century, man is called on to be not merely  co-breadwinner but an emotional support to his family. This is where it gets really tough for some men. When they’re required for a shoulder to cry on, words of comfort, the offer of money or general lightening of the emotional load then you might find that you’re co-habiting with the weakest link.

A man in this century has to be sensitive to the needs of his nearest and dearest. Sensitivity is like an unused muscle in men and they need satellite navigation to find it!! Some look but don’t know what it is that they’re searching for. Some wouldn’t know it if it hit them on the head. Some just don’t care whilst others pretend to….but they’re fooling no one.

The greatest issue that men face is that women are no longer filling in for their inadequacies. A woman of intelligence and healthy self esteem is no longer willing to prop up their “worse-halves”(known in the previous century as “better-halves”).

Men have been hiding behind their false egos for too long. They have been lauding it over women and children as the know-it-alls and be-alls of their domain (home and castle). Their weapons of choice to conquer and demean are anger, intimidation and violence.

This hellish trinity has brought down many a good woman and home. You only have to look at the stream of single men and women (divorcees and unconfirmed singletons) shopping for one or two in the supermarket and you get the picture. A tin of baked beans and spam don't make for a fun night in!

If a way to man’s heart is through his stomach then men are taking a hit in it this century. Lovingly prepared meals, cuddles on the sofa and good night kisses will only feature on the latest “Oxo” TV ad campaign.

But the tide is turning and men are being educated. Men born in the 21st century are the most fortunate as they’re going to learn a lot quicker that woman is no lightweight. A man, if he cares to become real, will have to lose the anger and arm himself with respect and kindness. He’ll know that kitchen duties are shared and that washing machines can be loaded and switched on by either sex. It’s a revelation that even child-rearing can be engaged in with great gusto since paternity leave was granted. Babies need fathers changing nappies and breaking rest and that seems to have been lost in the 20th century.

So what was lost can be regained but man has to evolve into a newer version of himself to save his species and women may have to quit acting like men (being mother, father, chef, gardener, designer, driver all rolled into one) to assist them in this initiative.

Men will be multi-taskers in this century and even sensitive souls and that’s got to be their toughest assignment yet!




Sunday, 8 December 2013

Freedom is my name

The recent passing of Nelson Mandela and the many tributes to him cause me to reflect on the man behind the legend. Nelson Mandela is a name that I’ve grown up with. During my youth, whenever I had occasion to  pass the South African embassy in London, in rain or shine, it was never without protesters chanting anti-apartheid slogans.  He was jailed in the year I was born and for 27 years he (and I) traversed this earth amidst angels and demons.

Apartheid was an enemy of humanity. It made dark skinned people believe they were inferior and it made the fair skinned believe they were powerful. Power and weakness make uneasy companions and it is against all common and uncommon sense that laws were passed to strengthen this  tyranny and oppression. Such was the “enlightened thinking”  in the South Africa of the 20th century that there were designated areas for black and white races. The two races could not eat, drink or dance together and bi-racial relationships were completely outlawed. Naturally, the economic divide was even greater with the white race living in affluent, gated communities whilst the majority black race languished in ghettos known as townships.

Nelson Mandela was born into such a world but he did not accept his lot. He was not resigned to his fate and founded a political party, the ANC, with other like minded individuals to challenge the white led government. Nelson Mandela fought for emancipation for his people and unlike, Martin Luther King, he was not committed to non-violent protest. Mandela and the ANC understood the law of the jungle and that meant taking up weapons to further their cause. Violence surely begets violence but Mandela never renounced it and was arrested, tried in the kangaroo court of the day and sentenced to life imprisonment.

The rest is history. Nelson Mandela became the most revered political prisoner for his unflinching resolve to never give up the fight for equality. The South African government may have imprisoned his body but his mind and spirit roamed free. He was perhaps the freest man even during his incarceration mostly because of his fearlessness.

In prison for 27 long years, Mandela was freed from the demons of greed, malice and arrogance. In an interview shortly after his release, he said that he lost his arrogance and became humble. A humble man is a rare thing and it is only a humble man that can truly forgive. “Let bygones be bygones” is how he dismissed the miscarriage of justice.

Nelson Mandela went from prisoner to president and lived to see a new South Africa where the “the ideal” he was prepared to live and die for was finally realized when apartheid was completely dismantled. It was a monumental achievement for all who endured and lived through that phase of history.

Nelson Mandela was a rock to his people and an example to the world. He is a giant amongst men and now walks in the valley of angels. 
The demons - within and without -  were transformed just as long ago water was turned into wine. The world is freer because of him though injustice continues but the spark of inspiration that he leaves as his legacy is our call to action. Mandela is a name synonymous with freedom.