Discrimination is rife in today’s society. Perceived membership in certain groups in our society is what countless males think about all too often. Trafford Publishing author Rod E. Keays set up men’s groups in order to highlight the adversity among males in this day and age, and also to provide insight into the changing roles we all play in society.
One afternoon after another painful beating at school I lay on my bed for about an hour and focused all my determination on considering all the weird things that had happened in my life up to that point. Suddenly as if a light went on in my brain, I had an answer: it was not my fault!
I somehow had taken on the feeling that being different was wrong, and that being myself was wrong too. Knowing this I realized that my bullies were probably feeling victimized somehow as well, no doubt suffering as deeply or deeper than myself. However, they had not yet got to the point of questioning their conditioning, and hopefully one day they would realize it was not their fault too. So in my eleventh year I learned compassion for men and new hope for myself.
Later in life I decided with a leap of faith to invite all the men from my local community who I respected or admired in some way to form my first men’s group. The group settled on five committed men out of the original eleven that came to the first meeting. We continued to meet every week for nine years. This was one of the most rewarding things I have participated in.
Then after a total of almost twelve years in men’s groups I decided to do something different, I wanted to give back to the larger civic community. My plan at almost forty-five years of age was to create the kind of men’s community that I had needed for myself when I was a young and uninitiated man.
My intention was that other men would not have to go through the isolation that I had endured. Then good fortune through a friend led me to a magazine called Island Men Journal. I helped to write critical articles on the most bizarre aspects of manhood, from violence to pornography.
We published about 15 issues of which many spare copies are still in my basement. During this time Island Men was also an event producing organization. We ran Men’s Gatherings held on Equinox and Solstice weekends four times a year for about four years. We used theater games, ritual, comedy, self-exploration and drumming to break down the barriers to emotion and the intimidating presence of so many men. One event brought together almost one hundred men. I was indeed fortunate to get the opportunity to practice my leadership skills in this intensely creative environment.
From these experiences I developed keen interest in-group facilitation, which I now believe will make me a good teacher. I searched all the local bookstores for ideas and exercises for these gatherings, and eventually started making them up to use at the next gathering. Some of the men involved were very experienced with theatre games and ritual so I had direct exposure to a unique kind of mentorship. I hope to bring to sharper focus the skills I touched on during these fun times. Because I know that fun is a large component of learning, many theatre games or trust exercises teach in a very spontaneous way too, often without words.
Trafford Publishing Author’s Corner will return will return soon with part two of Rod E. Keays’ three-part series. In the meantime, check out Keays’ book The Naturally Good Man at the Trafford Bookstore or checkout our Facebook page.