Authoritarianism as Toxic Masculinity vs. Spiritual Warriorhood

We have been meditating on developing the healthy masculine since the quest for authoritarianism is becoming pronounced in our time.  The events of January 6, many political leaders in Hungary, Russia, and Brazil, the rise of white supremacy, all reveal a toxic masculinity at work.

Photo of Hitler being saluted during the Nazi gathering in Munich on December 9th, 1931. Originally posted on Flickr by Recuerdos de Pandor

Historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat’s recent book, Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present, shares lessons from the time following the first world war which “created this huge crisis of masculinity,” she writes.  Fascist rulers rose in this crisis period of unrest and instability in individual countries with Mussolini leading the way, promising “I can fix it.  I can bring order.”  Hitler followed ten years later.

The two pillars to their strategies were Fear and Lies.  They were “very good at using fear as a way to present themselves as saviors” and this mean “manufacturing enemies” and making themselves the protesters and defenders of such enemies.  Turn political opponents into political enemies

Tweet by Christian Broadcasting Network reporter David Brody, 3/11/2019.

“Truth becomes their mortal enemy” for “truth is dangerous if you have secrets to hide” so the press becomes the enemy.  These leaders “weaponized their anger” in order to cover up the corruption that brought them to power in the first place.   The fears they most sell are a “socialist apocalypse” and, of course, racism.  

The author puts Donald Trump within this historical context of 100 years of authoritarianism.  His “lock her up” mantra against Hillary Clinton in 2016 played a key role for part of authoritarianism is sexism.  Patriarchy is committed to controlling women and women should not dare to aspire to the presidency–so lock her up where “she’s safely controlled.”  

A warning from the author of this article, “Countering the next strongman at the horizon will take radical love, a willingness to proactively defend democratic freedoms and to never again assume that it can’t happen here wherever here may be.”

Ben-Ghist makes very clear how important it is to be developing a counter masculinity, one that is healthy and not toxic.  

2021 Black Lives Matter march. Photo by Cooper Baumgartner on Unsplash.

Given this context, it seems even more appropriate to be considering ways to develop the healthy masculine in us as we have been doing in our recent daily meditations.  The inner strength to defend values that require our defending.  To stand up to bullies and to white supremacists and to groups that bond around hatred instead of caring.  Racism will not go down without a fight.

Let us consider now how to Bring the Warrior Alive in oneself:

Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh, on handling strong emotions. Originally posted to YouTube by Plum Village.

Are you living out the Four Paths that develop a warrior?  Which of the paths are your strongest at?  Which do you need to develop more deeply?

Have you confused “soldier” and “warrior” in the past?  Are you over it now?  Do you see our culture and the media confusing the two?  If so, how can you set them straight?

How are you encouraging young men to be warrior and not just soldier?

What warriors do you admire?  List them.  What do they teach you? 

To be continued


See also Matthew Fox, “Men Behaving Badly”:

Adapted from Matthew Fox, The Hidden Spirituality of Men, pp. 301, 77-105.

Banner Image: Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh leading walking meditation with children. Photo by Jean-Pierre, uploaded by Duc to Flickr.

A warrior is distinguished from a soldier because the warrior does his or her inner work.  Are you developing the warrior in you?

The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine

To awaken what Fox calls “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature,  to the Spiritual Warrior….These timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to connect to their deepest selves and to reinvent the world.
“Every man on this planet should read this book — not to mention every woman who wants to understand the struggles, often unconscious, that shape the men they know.” — Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of The Left Hand of God

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