In a rapidly changing world, where crises become hashtags and then fade away, we often feel overwhelmed when it affects us personally. On the flip side, we often ignore when it doesn’t affect us personally.
As members of Mentor Discover Inspire, two of the principles we aim to live by are: Defend Humanity and Be an Example to Children. But what does that mean when tragedy strikes and words escape us?
Silence Isn’t Golden
I know firsthand the feeling of isolation that silence can bring.
October 7, when Hamas terrorists massacred, raped, beheaded and burned alive hundreds of innocent people, I was appalled. As I saw many in the world celebrating, I was gutted.
Overall, my own team was quiet even after I did my best to express my pain. When I brought up how isolated and abandoned I felt in the circle, many expressed that they were thinking of me but didn’t know what to say.
I explained that the outreach to me that mattered most were two simple text messages, asking about my family and my well-being. Thankfully, as a team, we were able to connect deeper over my pain.
Don’t Mind-fuck This!
Don’t underestimate a straightforward text or call. You don’t have to offer solutions, just an ear or a kind word. For example, if someone’s been affected by the war in Ukraine, a message like, “Thinking of you, how are you holding up?” can be incredibly comforting.
You Don’t Need the Perfect Words:
Example 1: When George Floyd was killed, I was so upset by what I witnessed and yet I was speechless. I did make a few social media posts, but I didn’t reach out to anyone. I really regret that. A simple, “I’m here for you,” could have built connection with the men affected by that horrible crime.
Example 2: During the discovery of unmarked Indigenous graves in Canada, words might have failed us. A respectful nod or a hand on the shoulder could say more than words ever could.
Connect to Humanity, Not Politics
Example 1: In the face of the wildfires, we may not fully grasp what is actually happening for the men experiencing it, but acknowledging someone’s emotional distress is crucial.
Example 2: During the Syrian conflict, the politics may be complex, but that shouldn’t stop us from comforting another man who’s emotionally affected.
Focus on the Man, Not the Event
Example 1: When Colombia was in turmoil, we might not have understood the historical context, but we can understand a brother’s need for support.
Example 2: With issues like the plight of Iranian women or the Refugee Crisis, the situation is less important than the man in front of you who is emotionally impacted.
A Moment of Reflection
Reflecting on this most recent situation, I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been guilty of silence myself. Whether it was the Russia-Ukraine war, the ongoing suffering of women in Iran, or the volatile situation in Afghanistan, I failed to act. A lesson learned: silence is a stance, and never a helpful one. It pushes my men away … something I do not want to do.
Be Proactive; Think of Those Affected
Another crucial step we can take is being proactive. When news breaks, take a moment to consider who in your circles might be affected by it.
For example: When news about the Uyghur crisis emerges, consider that we may have members who feel strongly about human rights violations.
Amid news of the Refugee Crisis, think of those who’ve been displaced or have family in affected areas.
If you’re aware of it, don’t wait for someone else to bring it up. Reach out and offer a space to connect, showing proactive compassion and brotherhood. By doing so, we not only uplift those directly affected but also solidify our commitment to Defend Humanity and Be an Example to Children.
Speak Up Even When It’s Not ‘Your’ Crisis:
One of the most profound ways to exhibit brotherhood is to speak up even when the issue at hand doesn’t directly affect you or “your people.” When you step out of your immediate circle to reach out to a brother affected by a crisis you don’t personally relate to, you make a powerful statement about the universality of human suffering.
When Indigenous graves were discovered in Canada, you didn’t have to be Indigenous to feel the weight of historical injustice.
During the Black Lives Matter movement, your race or ethnicity didn’t matter. What mattered was standing up for the humanity of all men.
By showing empathy and concern across boundaries, and speaking up to end these injustices, we enrich our collective emotional intelligence and demonstrate that Defend Humanity and Be an Example to Children are principles that know no borders.
Do you need to start covering all the news across the planet? Of course not. The first responsibility is on the man who’s been affected to turn to his men for support. And then it’s the rest of the men’s responsibility to be there to support him.
However, there are times when there are no words, and we don’t come forward. In those moments, if you become aware of a situation globally or locally that you think may be a concern for a man in your circles, check in on him. It will make all the difference in the world to be seen by his men.
So, let’s make a pact here and now to not let another situation we are aware of pass us by without thinking of our brothers. Pick up your phone, send that text, and let’s double down on bringing the support we all need.