The Guardian

Traditional ideas of masculinity are poisoning our society. There is another way | Howard Cunnell

I thought being a man meant being tough, but then I found a more peaceful path. A new model is long overdue

When I was younger I was almost consumed by anger. My father had abandoned me before I was born, leaving me with powerful feelings of worthlessness. Self-destruction defined my young adulthood. I thought being tough and violent was the only way to be a man, but I was also scared of violence and sought escape in reading and the natural world.

While teaching in North Carolina this April, in the early days of the Trump administration, reading the Buddhist poet, teacher and activist Thich Nhat Hanh got me thinking again about false and true heroes – and the kinds of masculine heroes promoted as models in western culture.

“False heroes find it easier to make war than deal with the emptiness in their own souls,” wrote Thich Nhat Hanh in Fragrant Palm Leaves, a selection of his journals

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Guardian

The Guardian2 min read
Why Ivanka Trump’s New Haircut Should Make Us Very Afraid | Arwa Mahdawi
If her family cares about anything, it is image. Her political bob (pob) may be an attempt to get us to take her ambitions more seriously
The Guardian2 min read
One In 10 Men Think They Are Hot – Women Need That Confidence, Too | Suzanne Moore
Almost five times as many male respondents as female ones told YouGov they are good-looking. That’s no surprise, considering girls are trained to bat off compliments
The Guardian3 min read
Economists Calculate Monetary Value Of 'Thoughts And Prayers'
US study finds Christians are willing to pay for prayers – but atheists will pay to avoid them