14/11/2013 08:28 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 18:56 GMT

'Man Up': The Shift From 'Warrior' to 'Brave', Which We Need Men to Do

The First Nations people of America call their young men 'braves', not 'warriors'. I like the change in emphasis which occurs when using this word.


In the ancient ways the young 'braves' spent long times practicing their archery skills, and when they became proficient they hunted a wide range of animals. The First Nations believed when an animal died its' spirit was to be honoured, it was treated with the utmost respect. Each time they killed the braves grieved the passing of an individual, but celebrated the provision of food and so much more. This represents such a contrast to the mindless killing our young men presently experience in cyberspace, which now leaks so poisonously into our culture.

As the braves grew up, they were given the task of providing for those members of the community who couldn't hunt for themselves. They were taught it was an honour to provide and care for those less fortunate, and this responsibility was taken very seriously. Again, compare and contrast to the present disconnection between our young people and our aged population.

Stoic warriors

We spend time remembering on Armistice Day the warriors (men and women) who fought stoically, and with honour in the World Wars and subsequent wars. In that recollection is the knowledge they were taught to suppress their grief and emotions in order to survive the horrors of war. They did and saw terrible things, but had no safe and supportive outlet to express their response. The warrior who is unconnected to his emotions and feelings is a danger to himself and others long after the war has finished. Many of our warriors retreated away from society, knowing they were like unexploded bombs, and our culture was unable to honour them or their fallen comrades in a way which brought them back into community.

On being brave

To be brave is to go against the grain and take risks. It takes a huge amount of bravery for a young man to express his feelings, to be vulnerable, insecure, or truly grieve his loss and pain, and yet this is what is needed right now. We must encourage our young men to see the advantages for us all in being brave rather than being a warrior. We need them to understand what it really means when we say 'Man Up'.

Man up

On the internet and down the pub, men are regularly chastised about their lack of hardness, and advised to 'Man Up' - strap on a pair, grow some balls, stop being such a wuss, toughen up. All typical calls to the superficial macho male.

However, there is now a Man Up Campaign whose aims are 'to engage youth in a global movement to end gender-based violence and advance gender equality through programming and support of youth-led initiatives intended to transform communities, nations and the world'. Something far more relevant and useful.

So, remember, when I say to you 'Man Up', I mean: Stop being such a macho loner, stop suppressing yourself, get in touch with your emotions, admit your are fearful and vulnerable, be caring and sharing, support those less well off than you, make love not war, shed tears, at the same time, don't forget you are an adventurous, wild and free spirit, a shining light, become a 'brave' for truth, authenticity and beauty.