Letter From the Editor

James Anthony Ellis
Editor, Legacy Magazine

And so the topic of this edition of the Legacy Magazine is: “The State of MDI.”

As in considering a “state of the union address” for a nation, the common response here would be to rush to MDI leadership and check in with them. How are we doing? What is the plan? Where are we going? 

And though we are taking the time and space in this October edition to receive updates from Regional Coordinators, former Presidents, and the current MDI President, I believe there is another resource to query. It may be the most important source we address.

And that’s you. The membership. 

The state of MDI? Very simply, MDI is doing as well as the men who constitute the organization. MDI is as healthy as the men participating in this empowerment process in which we engage. 

How are you doing? 

  • Are you living the code of honor? 
  • Do you hold standards and commitments and personal terms high?
  • Is your word golden, or does it break often? And if it does, do you swiftly make an action to restore your sense of honor? Or do you wait … or prolong the process of cleaning up, hoping any fallout will be forgotten?
  • Are you calling other men out on their slacking or hiding so that you can elicit their best?
  • Are you living mainly at the individual level, watching out for numero uno, or are you expanding beyond your sense of self to embrace the larger picture – those within relationships, teams, organizations, communities, and humanity? Have you stretched yourself so that your well-being includes the well-being of others? 
  • Are you living as the mature masculine?
  • Are you enjoying success with your family, your career, and your community? 
  • Are you engaged in that process of being the man you really want to be here? 

Your answers will tell us how you are doing on one level. And they may change from day to day as we are all in a continual process of reaching our potential. Likewise, as part of our collective, the answers will reveal how we are doing as an organization. We are as high or low as our fellow members. We are as strong as the weakest link. As an organization we are our brother’s keeper, and as long as we are in the process and engaged as teammates, we are on the path of growth and excellence at various steps along that path.  

Everyone’s impression of how our men are doing will be different. But since I’ve assumed this role of Editor and since this is a “Letter From the Editor,” I’ll give it a go. Even though I interact with many members at various levels of leadership, my obviously filtered take from limited reach, if not as projection, would see our state of being this way:

First off, it’s miraculous that we are even here! How can such busy men, with all the various responsibilities and schedules, find themselves circled up week after week? What kind of crazy commitment and deep bond holds this thing together? Think of it! The couch calls. The control clicker. The significant other at home. The fridge is there too!  But no, week after week, without pay or fanfare, these men find their way – at the beaches, the bonfires, the garages, the fields – in order to gather in their circles of honor. Must be some powerful shit that is truly happening here on levels of which we may not be aware. 

Even with all the great work being done, there are the ways of being that need attention, areas in which we can improve. Or so it appears:

  • Men seem to need the stick over the carrot, meaning their calls to actions originate from a fear of consequence rather than a drive for excellence. I’ve noticed men often show up strong in response to potential penalties or pushups rather than living the honorable life, for honor’s sake.
  • There is a flakiness that is alive and well. Compared to an impeccability of outrageous high standards, things are slipping. Is that because it’s allowed and not held accountable? Perhaps we can look to become personally responsible rather than men who need an outside source to hold us accountable. That would assist in a shift from the immature boy to the mature masculine. 
  • Men aren’t showing up on teams with initiation and a self-directed will, but rather with this eerie passivity, awaiting to be told what to do. When was the last time a man, without prompting, chimed in and offered a team leader ideas for a team meeting exercise? 
  • The script has flipped over the years in MDI, wherein the dynamic of men living on the terms of teams and teams living on the terms of the division has shifted to a place where individual men live his men’s team experience on his own personal terms, and where men are indifferent to the division meetings. There was a time when men were afraid to attend a division meeting, fearful of the intense scrutiny this would hold. This flip of the power dynamic allows for the ego of man to reign stronger than a commitment to something bigger. Not a positive trend. 
  • Our MDI men wait for the last-minute deadlines when taking action, with sadly needing at times to be reminded or mothered. Yikes. Perhaps this is a leftover bad habit gained around high school homework, or the legacy of the 2-minute-window Point Program standards. 
  • Although cultures vary from region to region, I do see a pattern of men not calling other men out on the carpet when they break a standard or their word. The reason for that? My guess: because that takes work and effort. 
  • When men do break a word with someone, I don’t see them taking initiative to clean up their own mess honorably, but rather first hide out, and then push back when they are held to account. I’ve even seen a trend where men break a word with a man, negatively impacting that man, and instead of directly cleaning up with the man impacted, he goes off and cleans up with his team or alone. Isn’t that like paying someone else the $10 you owe to another? 
  • The saddest trend I see in our state of MDI is found in the reflection of what I believe has become the state of too many men in our society. It is the invisible man, the isolated man, the disposable man. This archetype appears in the military man discarded in battle and afterwards, or the man in divorce court given little to no visitation rights, or the modern man being shamed for even being masculine at all. How does that man reveal himself within MDI? It would be that man missing or ditching a team meeting believing his presence doesn’t even really matter – or worse – that man who quits his team or division without even one word of consideration.

So, there is work to do. But yeah, so what. Of course, it wouldn’t be men’s work if we didn’t have something to work on. Even with some hills and mountains to climb, this is still the only circle I know where a man can receive the immense “patience of the men” as he authentically reveals his heart, his gut, his pain, his challenges, his best. There is this sacred silence at times when men are taking in a man as he rips off the mask or honors his own. MDI is still one of the only spaces with such high intentions for an honorable world where “Honor, Selflessness, Commitment, Integrity, Training, and Learning give men the wisdom and courage to serve all men, women, and children for the betterment of humanity.”

More than ever, this world needs our men’s circles producing such high-quality men. The men we’ve always wanted to be will lead the way, as our nation, society and world go through any harsh or troubled times. 

We are in the game, we are in our teams, we are learning, growing, mentoring, discovering and inspiring.

The State of the MDI? The State of the Men of MDI?

In progress.

In process.

If we quit on the process, we fall prey to a barrier right where it stands. If we continue beyond the barrier, we’ve created a new normal and a new plateau, ever higher on our upward journey to being the men we’ve truly wanted to be – for the sake of our families, our careers, our communities, and our humanity.  

The State of MDI? Moving along … as long as we keep moving.

The State of MDI?

It is up to all of us.

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