I just finished reading a book by Wilma Mankiller titled everyday is a good day. For those of you who don’t know, Wilma was a chief of our people, specifically the Cherokee nation of Oklahoma. One of the best chiefs we’ve had in recent times, and some say the best.
In this book Wilma brought together women from many different tribes to discuss various issues and ideas. The aspect of this book I liked the most is they discussed. They state their point of views, but very few things they say must be done. Of those things they speak of their people, and the environment.
I would suggest this book to anyone, man or woman, it has great insight. I would also like to reiterate that the things said are the views of these women, and will not be how every first nations woman thinks or sees things.
One of the discussions in this book was about love and got me to thinking. It showed me new things, but also clarified and helped me understand things I had felt when I was younger.
It also partially inspired me to start this blog, to put my thoughts out there as a man raised in the American society. Another inspiration was a blog titled generation y by Yaoni Sanchez. A Cuban woman who goes through hardships daily to give herself a voice. Other inspirations were a brother of my heart, and sisters of my heart, that have helped me see the value of having a voice, and having a voice heard.
Growing up, I saw many men speak about gentleness as weakness. Using descriptions that implied any man who was gentle in any way was more woman than man, and not deserving of being called a man.
I didn’t understand this. As a boy my father was abusive, uncaring, and distant. What I wanted and needed from him was love. Grandfathers were much better at giving love than middle aged or younger men were. But that was also dependent on the grandfather. It also seemed easier for them to give love to a girl than a boy.
When I was in my late teens and early twenties, my sister had three children, two boys and a girl. I was told by many women, including my mother and sister, that it’s very important to love all the children the same. Boys are different from girls, but the love you have for them shouldn’t change or lessen for either. In trying to do just that, and in an attempt to not treat these boys like my father treated me, I gave them the same love I gave to my niece. I love each of them for their own personal traits, try and help them be good boys growing into good men. In just showing them the love I have for them, they still know I love them. They have not become girls or feminine in any way. But they can be caring and loving.
I think we men in America have learned a poor example as far as love goes. We do not have to be soft as far as being a pushover, or allowing yourself to be used. But you can show a gentleness as far as an understanding that a boy is not a man, and they are an innocent and deserve a protection because of that. As they grow they will encounter hardships as a part of life. But they should not have hardships thrown at them to “toughen them up”. Teaching them to recognize the protectiveness inherent in them and allowing them to discover where it applies through watching us, and their own actions, can develop a great strength that works off of that love for their family and others they wish to protect.
Love from a man can be applied differently than a woman applies it. But a woman is different than a man, and that in itself is a whole other blog. But it does not mean a man cannot love or should not love in great amounts.
In the way we treat a woman, a love can be applied without them being the woman that put us in their heart for the rest of their life as a wife. We can love a woman for being a woman and the way she acts with us and others because of it. I think we also need to understand that this love for an aspect of a woman does not mean they are “the one” for us. We can love our mothers, aunts, grandmothers, sisters, and we do not desire to take them as a wife. The same can be done with a friend and we can love them like a sister.
But in giving that love, we will learn from them their differences and see that they fit to us in a way that balances us out. We see that women in their way see the world differently than we do, and can teach us many things that we cannot see, and don’t normally occur to us.
I think it’s also imperative that we protect that difference of women. Losing it, we lose a better part of ourselves. Not to mention a way of caring for children that we men cannot produce. Also a giving nature that is essential to society.
Beyond and a part of all this, it is much more difficult sometimes to love in the midst of struggles. We men tend to get a hardness when faced with a struggle, and although it is an important tool, it can also be a deficiency in certain situations. Sometimes war, sometimes peace, without the ability to love fully, we cannot find the peace in ourselves, or find the piece with others.