What Does It Mean to Be A Good Man Today? The Future of Men and The Moonshot for Mankind
I began working with men and their families on November 21, 1969 when our first son, Jemal, was born. When I held my newborn baby in my arms for the first time, I made a promise that I would be a different kind of father than my father was able to be for me and do everything I could to create a world where men were fully healed and connected with their families throughout their lives. I had recently earned my Master’s Degree in Social Welfare from U.C. Berkeley but realized that nothing really prepared me for what it meant to be a father for the first time.
When our daughter, Angela, came into the world three years later, my professional and personal life came together and I launched my website, MenAlive, as my widow to the world to share my work on gender-specific healthcare. At the time there were very few programs focused on men’s mental, emotional, and relational health. Now there are many.
One program I immediately had an interest in learning about is called The Good Men Project. It was founded by Tom Mattlack and launched in 2009.
“The Good Men Project® is a glimpse of what enlightened masculinity might look like in the 21st century,”
the press raved when they launched. Tom set out to collect stories about the defining moments in men’s lives. He discovered that the connecting idea between all the stories of the men Tom talked to was that there was a moment when each man
“woke up, looked in the mirror and said ‘I thought I knew what it meant to be a man. I thought I knew what it meant to be good. And I realize that I don’t know either.’”
and offers the following startling realties about men’s lives today:
Suicide among young men, 18-24 years of age, is increasing faster than any other demographic.
90% of school shooters are young white men.
The average young man is apathetic and woefully behind academically.
Introduce disadvantage by race and socioeconomic class, and everything gets even worse.
“But it’s not just young men, of course,”
“I talk to the titans of the industry every day who are lost. A few months ago the father of private equity, billionaire Tommy Lee, went to the office to shoot himself dead. Men of every age, race, and class are struggling. We are four times more likely to commit suicide. We comprise 70% of OD deaths. We are in deep trouble.”
The future of men is at risk and we are learning the underlying causes of our problems.
“All scientific research points to a single culprit above all others,”
says Mattlack, Isolation.
“As men, we are socialized, never to let down our guard or to get vulnerable. And it is killing us.”
Lisa Hickey, The Good Men Project, and The Moonshot for Mankind
Lisa Hickey met Tom Mattack when he was beginning to put his stories together for a book. Lisa describes the encounter in my forthcoming book, Long Live Men! The Moonshot Mission to Heal Men, Close the Lifespan Gap, and Offer Hope to Humanity.
The Moonshot for Mankind and Humanity
Twenty years ago I read a research study that changed my life. My colleagues Randolph Nesse, MD and Daniel Kruger, PhD examined premature deaths among men in 20 countries. They found that in every country, men died sooner and lived sicker than women and their shortened health and lifespan harmed the men and their families.
They concluded with three powerful statements:
“Being male is now the single largest demographic factor for early death.”
“Over 375,000 lives would be saved in a single year in the U.S. alone if men’s risk of dying was as low as women’s.”
“If you could make male mortality rates the same as female rates, you would do more good than curing cancer.”
There are clearly biological factors that favor women in longevity, but there is much we can do to help men live fully healthy lives. In 2021 I invited a number of colleagues who were doing great work to help men and their families to join me in what I called our “Moonshot for Mankind and Humanity.” Having written for the Good Men Project from the beginning I knew Lisa and the great work she was doing. She accepted my invitation to join us. Here’s what Lisa recounted in Long Live Men!
“When Jed Diamond told me about his idea for the moonshot mission, I felt exactly the same way as I felt that day I decided to help launch The Good Men Project.”
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