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The Importance of Rage

This post is not about blaming. It is about traveling the path toward humanity's healing and wholing. Men are responsible for egregious violence against life. It has been this way for at least four millennia. Yet in order for something different to arise men must cultivate a functional relationship with the very emotion responsible for so much of the violence. They must be reacquainted with their rage, allowing it to come out of the shadows and take its place alongside the (only slightly) more accepted emotions of love and grief.

A man's rage is a powerful portal back to the deepest heart connection he has with the world and with himself. We need masculine rage-in-service-of-life as desperately as we need rain forests, clean oceans, mountaintops, and wild-flowing unobstructed rivers. There is a profoundly important relationship between all these natural elements and the protective rage-in-service-of-life that often lives in the shadows of the masculine heart. This is a complex issue and I don't attempt to explain the beginnings of masculine violence in the world within the body of this post. But it is crucial to the thesis of this post to state that contrary to a popular assumption, the acculturation process for men does not have to do with learning how to dominate. It has everything to do with learning how to obey and be submissive while being taunted with the (im)possibility of achieving a position of power-over. Men are seen as impotent unless they achieve power-over, and they are often humiliated (in ways ranging from subtle to viciously overt) for this impotence.

Often, for the man who has acknowledged his gender's destructive history, there is an erroneous, but nonetheless mortal, combat between the lover of him and the understandable rage within him. Yet, these two aspects must be working in harmony in order for him to be able to offer himself, fully empowered, to the world. Before any of that can happen he needs to know he can safely express his rage (in service of) without being cast out, castrated or hurting others.

There is a place for this in-service rage to be expressed in the presence of men who can say, "Yes...we see you. We hear you. We love you." And, there is a necessary time for men to allow this specific type of rage to be witnessed by the feminine. This is medicine. So often, both men and women have only ever witnessed catastrophically destructive rage; rage borne out of fear and impotence. I have stopped counting the number of times men have said to me "I'm scared to let the rage out. I have no idea what I'll do, what will happen. I could hurt you." And despite this understandable fear, I've only ever witnessed the opposite. I've witnessed men raging against the violence that has been perpetrated by their lineage and sometimes by them. I've witnessed men raging against a tyrannical rule book that tells them their tenderness, tears and uncertainty are evidence that they are weak. I've witnessed rage against a culture that trains men to dissociate from their bodies, denigrating all wisdom contained therein (and making true intimacy and true joy impossible). And I've witnessed men rage against the rage that accompanies the wounded angry lonely boy of the masculine. And perhaps most painful, I've witnessed men raging against an insidious opportunistic global culture that teaches them that war - and killing - are noble, by preying on the masculine's innate desire to be called into duty as fierce protector. Yet, as I have witnessed all this rage, I've never once felt afraid for my own safety. I've never once felt anything but a combination of my own grief for the process of modern masculine acculturation and the deepest love for the man standing in front of me, a man who is courageously reclaiming the full truth of his experience. And of course, I have been reminded of the extraordinary and necessary power locked within the masculine, that is all too often only expressed, and witnessed, as destructive.

A key to the process of Re-Wilding  is welcoming home the exiled rage (in service of life) burning within so many of our men. Each of us needs to own our part in creating and feeding this rage to begin with, and we must also make room for the full expression of it as well as the grief that accompanies it. Until this happens it is likely that not much will shift in the amount or nature of the atrocities committed.

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