Perhaps the past Century will not be known for the World Wars, for the atom bomb, for the rapid growth of scientific technology leading to IT, nor for even the Holocaust and a new awareness of crimes against humanity. In the long eye of history, perhaps the past Century will be known for fatherlessness. As such it will also be known for “Atyahiány”, Our Father’s absence, a most bitter and embittering fatherlessness: For Hitler was fatherless, Stalin was fatherless, Sceuicescu, the tyrant of Romania, was a bastard, Sadam Hussein of Iraq had no father, the ruler of Libya, Khadaffi was fatherless, Castro was a bastard.
Here’re two men I want you to meet. They’re happy, lead productive lives and at peace with themselves, except, well, maybe they’re not.
Guy #1: Seems that he has everything going for him, a successful career, a beautiful home, expensive cars in his driveway and a family that adores him. He shows up at church every Sunday and never misses his daughter’s dance recitals.
Guy #2: He gets by comfortably on his pension and social security checks. Not into the social media “stuff,” he spends his days writing letters to the dwindling number of folks he’s known for decades. His biggest source of pride is his only son, a high-level administrator at a prestigious university and holder of two degrees from Ivy League universities.
Now if you were to ask either one of them “How ya doing?” they’ll probably respond, “Just fine.” But beyond the façade they may in fact be dealing with an affliction within…loneliness!
It’s not unusual for me to be on the receiving end of sarcastic comments in response to something I wrote. It comes with the territory. In fact, I’ve grown to relish the barbs, and on occasion will use them as teachable moments. Here’s the latest one from “Cynical Cedric” followed by a teachable moment checklist:
“Hey Howard, we’ve noticed that you’ve been strangely silent on the sexual assault stuff that’s been in the news lately. I think that many women are paranoid and worry too much about something that probably won’t happen to them. This stuff is largely overblown.”
Despite his material and enviable career success, Don, like many of his mid-20th-century contemporaries and many men today, more than a half a century later, was hampered by a common theme that is prevalent in the lives of many men — a lack of genuine friendships. The old saying that “the more things change, the more they stay the same” rings true in regards to this particular issue.
Men have chosen to become totally consumed with one’s career to the detriment of having any healthy relationships. There have been a number of theories and reasons from experts as to why so many men have difficulty establishing and maintaining valuable, close relationships with other men. The social awkwardness and a rejection of intimacy with other men are present in fear of being viewed or labeled as gay. Societal mores have historically frowned upon it. Instead, men have chosen to become totally consumed with one’s career to the detriment of having any healthy relationships. Reasons aside, many individuals with the X/Y chromosome have a real deficit in their level of camaraderie with other men.
The undeniable conclusion from many psychologists, psychotherapists, mental health experts as well as testimony from a number of men themselves is that too many men have too few, if any, real male friends.
There has been a plethora of studies providing evidence that men who are largely friendless are living in an unhealthy situation, often resort to alcohol, engage in drug use, suffer from depression, and should reexamine their current predicament. Some things to consider:
Continue reading Addressing Social Isolation among Men – by Elwood Watson