Race, Politics and Toxic Masculinity on January 6 and July 27

The four policemen on July 27 who bore witness to the horrors they faced on January 6 were racially diverse.  A black man, a Latino man (an immigrant to America) and two white men testified to the scars and wounds, physical and mental, they suffered while doing their jobs right defending congress and democracy itself in the face of grave danger.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY) questions witnesses at a House Oversight Committee hearing entitled, “Democracy in Danger: The Assault on Voting Rights in Texas.” Originally posted to YouTube by Forbes Breaking News

At the same time that they were testifying, people were busy around the country manufacturing literally hundreds of laws indebted not to the sacred masculine but to a sick toxic masculinity that can only define success as “I win, you lose” and cannot admit losing.  Their new laws are meant to deny these very black and Latino heroes and all who look like them their rights to vote on the same level playing field as their white brothers and sisters.  What a picture!  How emblematic of how desperate our species is to move beyond a sick masculinity.

Toxic masculinity serves fascist agendas, especially when a punitive father God bolsters it.  A punitive father God is necessary to sustain a punitive patriarchal political structure that abandons mysticism and love for fear, hate, lies and violence.

Mystics (including Thurman and Aquinas) can help considerably with the task at hand, for they have learned to integrate the sacred masculine and feminine within themselves, whatever their gender. As Dorothee Soelle reminds us, Transcendence is no longer to be understood as being independent of everything and ruling over everything else, but rather as being bound up in the web of life….That means that we move from God-above-us to God-within-us and overcome false transcendence hierarchically conceived.  And mysticism comes closest to overcoming the hierarchical masculine concept of God. 

Rage and toxic masculinity personified. Photo by Tahiro Achoub on Unsplash.

Let us turn again to the happier topic of healthy masculinity which includes magnanimity (from “great soul” in Latin).  Thomas Aquinas tells us that magnanimity is arduous, it takes effort. “It is difficult for anyone to be magnanimous. No evil person is able to be magnanimous.” But the rest of us can be. Apparently evil renders a person smaller in soul, not larger.

While magnanimous people take on large tasks and implement great visions, they do not do so out of naiveté regarding the opposition and the courage that is required to overcome it. Here is how Aquinas puts it: Magnanimous people do not expose themselves to dangers for trifles, nor are they lovers of danger, as it were exposing themselves to dangers hastily or lightly. However, magnanimous people brave great dangers for great things because they put themselves in all kinds of danger for great things, for instance, the common welfare, justice, divine worship, and so forth.

It would seem, therefore, that the great movements needed to combat climate change and wake people up to their deeper selves, their prophetic and mystical selves, will demand plenty of magnanimity. To reinvent education, religion, worship, politics, economics, media, engineering, art will require magnanimity and a healthy masculinity. The four men who testified this week are excellent role models.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, The Tao of Thomas Aquinas, pp. 153-156.  And from Matthew Fox, Christian Mystics, pp. 277f.

Banner Image: “Stop Lying.” Photo by Joe Flood on Flickr

Queries for Contemplation

Have you “braved great dangers for great things such as the common welfare, justice, divine worship, and so forth?” Do the policemen and women at the capitol on Jan 6 inspire you to do so?

Recommended Reading

The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times

A stunning spiritual handbook drawn from the substantive teachings of Aquinas’ mystical/prophetic genius, offering a sublime roadmap for spirituality and action.
Foreword by Ilia Delio.
“What a wonderful book!  Only Matt Fox could bring to life the wisdom and brilliance of Aquinas with so much creativity. The Tao of Thomas Aquinas is a masterpiece.”
–Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit

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8 thoughts on “Race, Politics and Toxic Masculinity on January 6 and July 27”

  1. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    Personally I have advocated for the rights of the elders and caregivers within long-term health care for years. Each time I knew that I was putting myself and my job on the line. There were no medals, and there were no accolades of recognition of being deemed courageous… but rather much personal suffering, sacrifice, stress, and heartache. There was often a punishment from higher ups whom rather then choosing to do the compassionate, loving, just and merciful things, retaliated in anger, personal attacks and threats. There is no such thing as whistle blower protection. There is also no one holding management or ownership responsible and accountable for these unprofessional acts of conduct and the misuse and abuse of power and leadership… due to management and ownership protecting their own circle. The things advocated for, which are compassionate, loving, just and merciful, often do not manifest into actual change. The bottom line for these privately owned long-term care institutions is all about profitability, rather than person-centered care for not only the elders, but the caregivers as well. Often I have asked myself why I remain in this field of work and why I keep advocating for the rights of the elders and workers. The answer, which Spirit reminds me of time and time again is that of love, compassion and mercy, tethered to justice and truth. I remain because of the elders whom are in need of being cared for, as they live out the last moments of their lives, and I am there for them in the process of their dying and their journey into eternal life. I work and live in solidarity with the elders and my caregiving co-workers sharing the sorrows and the joys of all of this, through laughter and tears. Often those like myself are sent into dark places, to be a little light of these precious things, because there is a need for these things, there in the midst of all the darkness of injustice. I’ve learnt to celebrate the small successes, which do occassionaly happen, and I am strengthened, comforted, consoled and wisely counseled by the indwelling presence and essence of the Holy Spirit daily, whom walks with me in what I have been called and sent to do… which sustains and maintains me in innumerable ways… which I am truly grateful and blessed to receive. The treasures I receive in and through all of this are not the things of this world, but are of the Spirit… which in my experience are much more meaningful, valuable and everlasting.

  2. Avatar

    Working in a public school in Brazil is like facing a lion a day. Only those who are concerned with the common good remain, especially at this time when we are living with conservatism, scientific denial and human rights violations. We are experiencing on the skin what a toxic masculinity can cause at the collective level. These meditations have been very important for us to understand the problems in their depth and for us to continue facing great dangers for the sake of great things.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Peterson, may God strengthen you to do the work that you do. This is not “the best of all possible worlds” as Gottfried Leibniz once said it was. I think he was a bit non-realistic. And so it is that we must labor on in a world that is less that perfect, doing what we feel God has called us to do…

    1. Avatar

      And whited sepulchres, Patrick. It seems to me that to be a true follower of the Way will always be risky in this world and calls for daily humility, forgiveness, and strong faith.

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