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by Bennett Spelce

One definition of "movement" is "an act of voiding the bowels." This is a natural and necessary process. Honorable men typically clean up after themselves. If we have not been taught how to clean up our shit during childhood, we learn it as an adult. Okay, I am convinced, there is a men's movement.

The men's movement has provided a forum for discussion and work on the shadow side of each man's personality. Shadow work is the act of voiding our emotional and spiritual bowels. It is also cleaning up after ourself. In "the movement" we have been blessed with individuals to assist us in shadow work. It is up to us to apply the lessons we have learned. To continue to grow, we must incorporate these lessons into our collective and our individual life.

Our shadow work is not completed. We have stirred the shit up. In doing so, we have dealt with some of the smellier stuff and created new shit which we have placed into our shadow. I submit that the very process of our growth up to today is a major element of the shadow of today's mens work. The medicine that helped relieve our emotional and spiritual constipation may have caused diarrhea. This medicine was prescribed by our anointed healers based upon their experience. Their diagnosis and prognosis has helped thousands of men discover the path to regularity. We have explored our inner selves through myths, poetry, recovery programs, shadow work, anger work, sweat lodges, drumming, smudging, dancing, hugging, crying and laughing. It is time to deal with the waste and the stench created during the treatment. Many of us have become addicted to the prescription. We must recover from that addiction.

Recovery from addiction is very difficult work. Recovery of the men's movement is dependent upon the recovery of each man in the movement. We need to continue to get out of our heads and into our hearts and bodies. We must keep using the tools we have learned to help us explore our deep inner core, our very being. We must keep crying and laughing and screaming and exploding into manhood. But there is more.

We like our feelings, even the pain and discomfort. We like the hopefulness we receive from this healing process. We like the release of the impacted emotions and spirituality. We like exploring the knowledge lodged in our hearts and bodies. Yet something is wrong. Many of us have not fully learned to respect the drum, the lodge, the dance or our relationships.

Perhaps some of our healers did not learn this either, but merely discovered the process early and passed it on to us. Sometimes this was part of their healing path. Sometimes this was for a fee. Sometimes this may have been for power, to get us to direct our respect toward them instead of toward the healing powers hidden within the deep recesses of the objects and processes. We must stop looking to our anointed healers to sell us new prescriptions. Whatever motives we attribute to them, our healers have served us well. We need their medicine. Now it is time, past time, for us to pay our respect to and honor the origins of our newly discovered sense of hope through applying the lessons we have learned. We must take responsibility for our own health.

We have abused the process that brought us into manhood through accepting only half-a-dose of the medicine. We have sometimes been exploited in the process. We are primarily a group of middle-age, middle-class, middle-income heterosexual white men who have not yet learned that we can't buy our way into life. Part of the fee for the journey must be earned. It must be paid for with attitude and actions.

We cannot continue to be selfish, dishonest, self-seeking and frightened. These are symptoms of our addiction which show themselves in our shadow. In the way we fail to relate to men of color, men of different sexual orientation, men of different classes and in our misuse of ritual processes and objects, we act out our shadow elements.

Shadow work teaches us to explore our resentments and our fears. We must explore their source. We need to determine how they affect us. We must acknowledge how our actions or inactions contribute to their existence. We must own and honor our part. We can then embark upon a course of action. This is difficult for us to do individually. It is necessary but difficult for us to do as a group. Shadow work is difficult. If we had wanted to look at this shit, we would not have put it into our shadow in the first place. The difficult and unpleasant nature of the work must not prevent it from occurring. To do the work will cure the diarrhea. This is my prescription.

Bennett Spelce is a 57 year old, middle class, middle income, heterosexual, white man, Bennett has been active in men's work since 1990, attendee and active participant in numerous national and local men's gatherings and workshops, founding member and active participant of Men's Council of Austin. He can be reached at 1503 Woodhill Drive, Round Rock, TX 78681. (512) 310-1840

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