What’s the Mankind Project (MKP) all about? I found MKP in 2002 and was immediately drawn to the NWTA (New Warrior Training Adventure). I guess, looking back, it was my sense that this was a community where men could get together without judgement, competition or having to play a role which drew me to the organisation. And – maybe more important – I sensed it was where I could learn to be a man. I certainly knew I hadn’t learnt that from my father – but I didn’t quite know what was missing.
MKP is like a level playing field, where there's no need to worry about what you're saying to your boss, your spouse, your family, your friends. For men who've been judged by others their entire life, this can come as a refreshing change!
Acceptance is the key for me - to be accepted for who and what you really are is rare in this society. I think people live by the masks they create to cope with everyday life. To drop them takes courage - often a man's identity is tied up in who he appears to be to others, or what he does. In this organisation, my experience has been there's a sense of equality born of the fact that we all serve a common purpose - I once heard it expressed like this: to introduce men to themselves, to who they really are.
I'd add that it's also about opening a man's heart to himself and others, regardless of whatever wounds have encouraged him to close off. Of course, no matter why a man’s life appears to fall apart, he’s really in crisis because of the strain of living without fulfilling his inner desires, or trying to be someone who he is not, or following a path given him by someone else, or…..whatever.
I needed and wanted so much to find a purpose, a way of life that fitted with who I am, and with my deepest values and beliefs. (And that wasn’t working for a multi-national chemical company, as I was then doing.)
I'm not saying such changes happen easily, or quickly, but the point for me is that MKP provides a place where the potential for change is available - and the support I needed to help me change my life has been freely available in ways I could never have imagined when I started this journey.
My family and friends and partners over the years have served me in many ways (and I hope the same is true in reverse!), but there's something unique about MKP. I've mentioned a few of the qualities I see in the weekends and the wider ongoing community: openness, lack of judgement, support, but there is more: for me, it was also a way to connect with the deep masculine energy I knew I possessed, but somehow had never been able to access.
After all, I was brought up by a woman who wanted a "nice, well-behaved" son, not necessarily one who could freely express his masculine nature. And by that I mean freely express my strength, courage, loyalty, desire for adventure, spontaneity, loving nature, sexuality, and male power. Now I feel equal to the female power of the woman I’m loving and living with, and I understand what masculinity means to me.
To reconnect with those things more fully in some cases, and for the first time in others, is a wonderful adventure. And it can be so for any man, at any age, I believe – you included!