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

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