Saturday, November 17, 2018


I had lunch yesterday with an old friend, John. I had not seen him in perhaps ten years, and it was good to reconnect. There are those--as I'm sure others have experienced--with whom I feel a special bond, even though I might not know them very well. I recognize in them the integrity I admire and myself aspire to--an authenticity that inspires the kind of trust that is hard to come by in the contemporary world.

Our conversation ranged over a variety of topics, from family to politics, from old stories recalled to new ones previously unknown. Over the course of our friendship, we worked together on staff at often intense men's training weekends, where participants are attracted precisely to find the kind of integrity that may be missing in their lives. We learn to hold each other to account, to not be seduced by the fraudulence of our own self-deception and denial. It's good work, of a kind that is much needed, in my judgment, by vast numbers of those un-grown little boys who pose as men in today's society.

I have written before about my own understanding of integrity--which in essence means nothing more and nothing less than being whole. It is expressed in the simple formula of saying what you mean and meaning what you say. Intention and action in the world are one. For me, there are four pillars that give it substance and structure: the intellect (the head, where most men spend most of their lives), the emotions, the physical body and--for want of a better word--the spirit. For full integrity, as I see it, these need to be in balance, none of them neglected, none so exclusive that it outweighs all or any of the others.

There are too often moments, as I'm sure for all of us, when I lack vigilance and mindfulness and slip out of integrity with myself and those around me; so it was useful to be reminded of these important understandings as I sat at lunch with my good friend. We men need to acknowledge our part in a history of misused power and privilege that manifests in the human crisis that dominates the national and international stage today. The men's organization in which my friend John and I were active for so many years spoke of "healing the world, one man at a time." That's still a worthy and an urgent cause.

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