by Bill Kauth
As each of us in MKP gives our gift to our fellow men the results are profound. Some lead, some administer, some do the books, some organize, some cook, some guide, some listen, some raise funds, some get stuff started, some make phone calls, some hold sacred space and some of us love meetings. Who we have become as the sum of all these gifts is the focus of this report!
Growing Adults: Let me begin with Duane Elgin, a visionary author, speaker and educator whom I have admired for 20 years. In his book The Living Universe, he speaks clearly on the global level of human development:
“As I traveled around the world giving talks about humanity’s future, I often began with a simple question: ‘When you look at the overall behaviors of the human family, what life stage do you think we are in? Averaging human behavior around the world, what stage of development best describes the human family: toddler, teenager, adult or elder?’ When I first began asking this question, I had no idea if people would understand it and, if they did, how they would answer. To my surprise, nearly everyone immediately understood the question and their responses show that, around the world, there is an overwhelming agreement about humanity’s stage of life–we are in our teenage years.”
Nearly everyone agrees that we live in a global adolescent culture. There is something about the leadership of our world that has felt narcissistic and dangerous, especially over the last couple decades. Indeed, if our world is guided by adolescent energy what might take us to the next level of maturity?
For 27 years I have seen us/MKP growing adults! Like some folks grow tomatoes, we grow adults! And because we do it well, we have a legacy around the world of emotionally and spiritually mature men, who in turn, nurture their children and develop more authentic intimate relationships with women.
In my role as visionary I look for guidance and direction. I ask “Are we/MKP focused in a good way, are we serving well?” So as I read and study I focus through a unique lens of how MKP relates to the big picture. What I see is rare and beautiful. Allow me to share a context of good news!
Authentic Initiation: I have recently immersed myself in Bill Plotkin’s seminal book, Nature and the Human Soul. Here he delineates the transition through 8 stages of human development. It is like our 4 quarters model, but far, far more complex with each quarter (child, adolescence, adult and elder) divided in two, creating 8 distinct stages. He most poignantly states: “One life transition in particular – soul initiation – is so demanding and difficult that we could think of the entire stage that precedes it (the Cocoon) as an extended preparatory period for separation, while the stage that succeeds it (the Wellspring) could be envisaged as an extended period of incorporation.”
Brothers, we are doing what Bill Plotkin calls “soul initiation,” the transition that moves men beyond the “thin cocoon” into authentic adulthood. He points out that Soul Initiation in our culture is “… not only rare but also, when it does occur, likely to happen much later in life (in our twenties or anytime afterward) than it did, or still does, for indigenous peoples (in teens) …we have lost our own traditions of Soul Initiation and must now imagine new ones that fit who we have become.”
After initiation Plotkin suggests clearly that: “Now the initiated adult becomes an apprentice to his soul and to a discipline that enables him to live those mysteries into the world.” In MKP we would say that after the NWTA initiation we “integrate” the learning, as adults, preparing to take our mission into the world.
Over time as men practice in their I-groups, they get more present, they learn to handle conflict, trust other men and feel their feelings. It has been my observation over the years, that there is a point at which men have simply done enough “inner work” that the healing is sufficient to allow a maturation that I have come to call “fulfilled to over flowing.” In this place, there is nothing to do but give. In Spiral Dynamics terms this is “Second Tier” or a stage of embodied multiple perspectives, when the transpersonal mission feels natural.
Bill Plotkin would say: “Soul initiation is the moment, not when you decided for yourself, but when an answer wholly claims you. It is the moment when you fully accept your calling, your own particular mission in life. …true adulthood is rooted in something transpersonal. …Once you have been shown your soul image or story, you must learn how to enact it with our particular culture, time, and place.”
As we have seen so often, when a brother is ready and touches this special moment he begins activating his mission. Most of us know this profound moment. Again Plotkin says: The transformation in your life at Soul Initiation is irreversible. You have, in effect, made “a promise/it will kill you to break,” as David Whyte writes. You now have an obligation both joyous and terrible. There is a sacred responsibility to fulfill. No excuses.
Honoring Missions: Every year we see the fruits of our brothers stepping up to their “action in the world” as we honor and bless men with the annual Ron Hering Mission of Service Awards, now going into the 14th year. I always feel touched by the beauty and magnificence of what our brothers are doing in the world. One final quote from Bill Plotkin: “The most potent seeds of the Great Work of cultural renaissance come from the uniquely creative work of initiated adults.”
The Depth of our MKP Work: I have suggested in my opening that we/MKP grow adults, Duane Elgin notes our world is in an adolescence phase, and Bill Plotkin presents the deep importance for authentic initiation. MKP is performing this crucial service, we know it is real, we have felt it in our own hearts and seen it in our brothers. But, how does it make a difference? For complex reasons most of us suffer from a broken “attachment bonding” which makes it difficult to truly connect with others. It has come to be called “reactive attachment disorder” and we/MKP provide significant healing over time by just being together in a safe container and more immediately thru the various forms of shadow work. I want to focus here on what we are reclaiming as the wounds heal, with some new hard data to show our path for 27 years.
MKP Bonding and Human Nature: The following three authors offer refreshing views of human nature, deeply grounded in current research, mostly in the neurobiological and cognitive sciences. Each acknowledges the dramatic role of the recently discovered mirror neurons — also known as empathy neurons.
Dacher Keltner’s Born to be Good, speaks about our emotional lives with scientific precision “”The emotions that promote meaningful life are organized according to an interest in the welfare of other. …We have been designed to care about things other that the gratification of desire and the maximizing of self interest.” Consider all those MKP brother hugs: “Touch, my studies show, is the primary language of compassion, love and gratitude – emotions at the heart of trust and cooperation. ….Through touch, cooperation and kindness can spread across people and physical space within seconds. The emotions that promote meaningful life are powerfully contagious, which increases their chance of propagation, and their encoding into our nervous systems and their ritualization into cultural practice.”
Lynn McTaggart known for her first book The Field, popularized what Rupert Sheldrake called “morphogenic fields.” In her new book The Bond, she speaks to who we are as humans. “One of the fundamental demonstrations of our natural instinct to Bond with each other is a will to give. Rather than domination, our most basic urge is to reach out to another human being, even at a cost to ourselves. Giving to others – the urge to empathize, to be compassionate, and to help others altruistically – is not the exception to the rule, but our natural state of being. Altruism comes naturally to us. It is selfishness that is culturally conditioned and a sign of pathology.”
And most highly relevant to MKP is her statement “The Bond we make with a group is the most fundamental need we have because it generates our most authentic state of being.”
Jeremy Rifkin offers his tome The Empathetic Civilization asking straight out: “Can we reach global empathy in time to avoid collapse of civilization and save the earth?” He observes how human empathy has expanded from family, to tribe, to city, to country and now world (please see the RSA video on his web-page). He states: “We rushed to universalize empathy in the last half of the 20th century (after WWII). We extended empathy to large numbers of our fellow human beings previously considered to be less than human – including women, homosexuals, the disabled, people of color and ethnic and religious minorities – and encoded our sensitivity in the form of social rights and policies, human right laws and now even statutes to protect animals. …And even though the first light of this new biosphere consciousness is only barely becoming visible, the simple fact that our empathetic extension is now exploring previously unexplorable domain is a triumph of the human evolutionary journey.”
From the research, it’s obvious that we humans are born to be good, kind, compassionate creatures, ready to empathize and bond with each other. It’s who humans are, hard-wired to give, to live the give-away. It’s what MKP has been teaching and living since the very beginning. Now the data is coming in from all these credible sources, and we see what we do is important. Dacher says “…our survival depends on healthy, stable bonds with other.”
We are social beings, we lived in tribal community for hundreds of thousands of years. Now a new form of community is evolving unlike anything known before, because who we have become has never been seen before. I submit, MKP is a significant creative force in building mature community.
Intimacy and Community in a Changing World: MKP holds the containers in which we learn to bond and trust! This leads to authentic community. Two MKP brothers and authors have addressed this in unique yet highly aligned ways.
First, Chris Martenson has become famous for saying “The next 20 years will be completely unlike the last 20 years.” A decade ago he studied the world economic situation and decided to leave his VP job at a Fortune 300 company. He moved his family to Western Mass to live a much simpler life with a community of trust and shared values.
Chris consolidated his research into The Crash Course (you may remember I brought copies to Glenn Ivy in 2008). He gave it away for free and people purchased another 25,000 copes. This launched him as a popular world spokesman on our impending future. When I spoke with him a few years ago he told me how his men’s group had gone to each of their homes for a “resilience assessment.” They are preparing together for the coming times. In his book he says “What ever the future holds, I’d rather face it surrounded by people I respect, admire, and love in my local community, people whom I trust and know I can count on. That’s my measure of true wealth.”
Second, Charles Eisenstein has become famous for his devotion to building “…a more beautiful world our hearts tell us is possible.” He is a rising spokesman for the new culture emerging in the younger generations. In his new book Sacred Economics, he says “The economic changes I describe are part of a vast, all encompassing shift that will leave no aspect of life unchanged.” He sees our money system driving the separate-self consciousness, which is taking us into crisis. Fully aware of the powerlessness people feel in the current system, he brings it right down to a pure human level: “We need way more intimacy than nearly any one considers normal. … Clearly the transition to a sacred economy accompanies a transition in our psychology. Community, which in today’s parlance usually means proximity or a mere network, is a much deeper kind of connection than that: it is a sharing of one’s being, an expansion of one’s self. To be in community is to be in personal, interdependent relationship, and it comes with a price: our illusion of independence, our freedom from obligations. You can’t have it both ways. If you want community, you must be willing to be obligated, dependent, tied, attached. You will give and receive gifts that you cannot just buy somewhere. You will not be able to easily find another source. You need each other.”
The call for community, these two men express, is powerful from every quarter. I have found so many other books that end with a similar conclusion. Because MKP men have learned to live in a high state of intimacy, we bring a powerful capacity to build communities, which could significantly shape the world. Brothers, this is what MKP does, we build trust, bond with each other and build community.
Men and Women Together: Social community includes women and I believe MKP is contributing dynamically to the authentic bonding between genders. I have personally been looking for the “gender reconciliation” as we used to call it, for over 20 years. The good news is that I have finally found it. As I travel the world I meet so many MKP men who have healed their “broken attachment” wounds enough to be willing to risk their hearts to find true intimacy with women.
Brothers, this is the healing of a 5000 year old wound between men and women. HumanKind has been waiting a damn long time for this one and MKP is a force bringing it forward.
My wife Zoe and I (as well as Rich and Char Tosi) have been doing gender healing for some years now. We found stunning examples of others doing this work. One is Allison Armstrong, whose basic course is called Celebrating Men, Satisfying Women, a great title, which says it all. She truly “gets” men and admires them, and she has taught over 20,000 women some important gender distinctions and how to appreciate and honor each other. Her work is excellent and her husband and main male trainer are both MKP brothers. Another is British brother Mark Josephs-Serra and his wife Elizabeth who have developed a gender healing mode they call The Culture of Honoring. They believe: “Our personal and social development needs to be unified. If they aren’t, our social change will be superficial, and our self-development incomplete.”(websites below)
So, Who is MKP? We seem to be men who have found the courage to go through the wounds and deep into our soul essence. We know empathy, compassion, and have the ability to bond deeply with each other and know authentic intimacy with women. As we are guided by our transpersonal missions we are building the communities of the future.
A World Changing Movement: In the year 2000, brother Patrick Kane organizer of the Heartland Men’s Conference boldly proclaimed that MKP is a “movement.” I felt struck in a good way, as I had not thought of us as such. It has grown on me and as I review what we are actually doing it fits the potency of our being. Parker Palmer, a very wise and courageous truth-teller, I have admired for decades, makes this observation:
“…institutional change doesn’t come about simply through the actions of courageous whistle-blowers. It happens through the formation of communities of people who have a shared moral concern and who can provide encouragement, resources, and protection for each other.”
He goes on to say: “I don’t know of any great movement that hasn’t depended on base communities to sustain individuals in the demanding work of social change.” Paul Hawken adds: “Social movements are humanity’s immune response to political corruption, economic disease, and ecological degradation.”
The MKP reach into the world: Before we end, let’s consider the breadth of MKP as a movement. Let’s look at some ways to demonstrate or measure the tangible impact of our work. If we were a business we would want our stakeholders to know this kind of data. As a not-for-profit organization inviting the support of members we might want to know the magnitude of our reach.
1,000,000 Face to Face Man Hours Per Year: Imagine 65 men at a NWTA times 55 hours each, times 120 trainings per year = nearly half a million hours (65X55X120=429,000). Now imagine 1000 I-groups around the world, every week for 50 weeks each with an average of 10 men, = another half million. Plus the leader training events and it gets quickly up to over one million hours of interpersonal and inner soul development. All this formal MKP work is personal face to face contact, where we actually feel each other.
2,000,000 Hours Per Year: Now imagine our indirect impact as all the local projects and groups, social and training events brothers have created in their communities. If we add the combined hours of all the hundreds of MKP “spinoff” projects for men and women it would account for another several hundred thousand. Now, around the world, figure in the hundreds of thousands of hours we spend in meetings planning, organizing and co-creating. I think we could make a powerful case for two million hours per year building what I’ve come to call “social capital.”
Social capital is the glue of society. It catalyzes natural expressions of reciprocity, mutual assistance, and trustworthiness, that bind people together. With a couple million hours of this good glue, it is obvious how MKP builds community. Because much of our culture has lost a sense of connection to community we bring a gift which people are deeply hungry to receive.
Stepping Out into the World: Back in 2010 MKP asked the question; Is it time to go mainstream? Our MKPI chairman George Daranyi proposed a vision of honoring both our first 25 years in which we have held our work close to the vest and our next 25 in which we open our arms to the world, ready to serve. This vision culminated in the wonderful 25/25 celebration, serving as our formal launch out into the world.
This shift is now reflected in the new global structure in which each region will produce its own Strategic Plans. This will encourage creative marketing, new training and partnering options and attention of generational transition. Because I’m close to it I’ve seen MKP-USA on task, as they funded “The Plan” with enough money to make some needed shifts. A “professional” team began structuring a membership based not-for-profit, as had been suggested by the Stanford Act 2 study. Now with a strong base, we take our gifts boldly out into the world. This feels so right and timely.
Visionary looking ahead: As Chris Martinson suggests above, the world is changing faster and more unpredictably now. These accelerating changes are inspiring healing actions all over the world and as Paul Hawken suggests, Gaia’s immune system is kicking in. It just might happen that an end of 5000 years of male and western domination is very near. In these highly complex modern times I find hope and vitality as I imagine all our remarkable MKP work building with millions of other healthy visionary projects like the sounds in a band; the drums, guitars, horns and songs all blending to create a more beautiful world our hearts tell us is possible.
Thank you – Bill Kauth
The Empathetic Civilization: The Race to Global Consciousness in a World in Crisis, Jeremy Rifkin, Publisher: Jeremy Tarcher (a MKP brother) Penguin, 2009, $27.95 http://empathiccivilization.com/
Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World, Bill Plotkin, Publisher: New World Library, 2008, $18.95 http://www.natureandthehumansoul.com/
Born to be Good: The Science of A Meaningful Life, Dacher Keltner, Publisher: Norton, 2009, $25.95 http://foundationcenter.org/pnd/offtheshelf/ots.jhtml?id=262400002
The Living Universe: Where Are We? Who Are We Where Are We Going?, Duane Elgin, Publisher: Berrett-Koehler. 2009, $15.95 http://www.duaneelgin.com/
Sacred Economics: Money, Gift & Society in the Age of Transition, Charles Eisenstein, Publisher: Evolver Editions of North Atlantic Books, 2011, $22.95 http://sacred-economics.com/
The Bond: How to Fix Your Falling-Down World, Lynn McTaggart. Publisher: Free Press, 2011, $16.00, http://www.lynnemctaggart.com/
The Crash Course: The Unsustainable Future of Our Economy, Energy, and Environment, Chris Martenson, PhD. (MKP Brother), Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, 2011, $27.95 http://www.peakprosperity.com/crashcourse
Allison Armstrong: http://www.understandmen.com/
Mark Josephs-Serra: www.cultureofhonouring.com