Humane: Do Some Good
I'm a woman. There was a 50/50 chance of me becoming a girl or a boy at conception. A chromosomal lottery. No one took me aside at that moment and said, “Hey, we’re making a big decision here. Would you rather go through life as a woman or a man?”
It’s great to be a woman. It’s a role that comes with certain feminine and matriarchal privileges. Yet, those same privileges can become disadvantages when confronted by a society that values men over women.
Sometimes in the quiet of night or in the chaos of day, a recurring question flares across the horizon of my thoughts, "What is a father? a husband? a man?" The question comes up on days when I am walking down the street and a catcall rings out from some upper window. Those catcallers are husbands and fathers no doubt. And at night, in the comfort of my bed, I think about women in Africa walking all night to find water for their families - and the water is filthy, but it's the best to be had. Sometimes I think about the women around the world I've seen in photos walking uphill with loads of firewood on their back. And I wonder, “Where are all the men?” Why are the women walking all night to get water while the men are sleeping safely? Why are the women taxing their bodies to haul firewood? Men have muscles, don’t they?
Sunday is Father’s Day. Every year I think about my dad. A great man. Got up every morning. Went to work in Cleveland. Paid the bills. Managed the finances so well, that on a carpenter’s salary he was able to send me to art school. How fortunate I was. Not all girls had a father like mine. Some didn’t have one at all. After conception, some fathers get up and leave. Nobody asks the baby if she wants her dad to stick around to make sure the bills are paid, let alone have enough left over to save up for college someday.
What is a man? Back in 2010, while browsing T.E.D., I came across a talk, “A Call to Men” by Tony Porter. I remember when I first saw the little box on the T.E.D. homepage with Tony’s picture and the short description of his presentation - I thought - hmm... maybe I don’t want to hear this one. Nevertheless I clicked the little box.
Tony’s talk is one I will never forget. I have related it to dozens of my friends. Here’s a man who gets up on stage and tells a story about growing up in a tough neighborhood where girls were not valued. His heartfelt account of how he went against that norm, how he grew up to be a husband and father who wants to make sure that his daughter is treated well by a society that values women and how he went about to make that happen, is remarkable. Since 2002, Tony's organization, A Call to Men, has educated thousands of men on how to be a loving husband and caring father. Father's Day gets better every year because of Tony Porter.
Here is the link to his organization: http://www.acalltomen.org/
Here is the link to his T.E.D. talk: http://www.acalltomen.org/news/ted-talk-tony-porter