Real Men · 1 January 2007

Popular American culture teaches us that real men do not cry. They do not show weaknesses. They never admit that they are wrong. I have watched television shows and movies and know that our boys and men are not always being shown what constitutes a real man. Some of the heroes on the screen are worthy of emulating when they fight through pain and suffering to become better. Some heroes show weakness but it is usually something to cover up or is used merely as a plot point in television and movies. Rarely do we see our male pop icons admitting they were wrong or crying, whether in a show or in real life. They do not know what real strength is.

I was fortunate in that I had lots of male role models who did not fit into that mold. My dad and his brothers cried at funerals and other sad events. I have heard my dad admit to making mistakes lots of times. And I love that he can laugh at his own foibles and follies. I was fortunate to have role models like my dad and my uncles. I am also fortunate that my children have at least one role model besides myself to help them understand that crying and showing weakness is okay for men. One of the pastors at our church in Monroe is one of those role models who debunks the myth that real men do not cry.

Pastor Nate Hettinga, senior pastor at Cascade Community Church in Monroe, has shown time and again that it is okay for men to cry and show their emotions. He is what most people would call a man’s man. He bow hunts in the fall and he often tells stories of times in the woods. Pastor Nate has told stories of getting lost in the woods (something a “real man” would never do – get lost or admit it) and of other weakness. And even though he does not like to do it, he has even cried in front of his congregation.

In the fall of 2006, a young man in Monroe died in a hunting accident. His family is a part of our church and Pastor Nate was with them comforting them in their shock and grief. Pastor Nate told of the boy’s death and of the love that issued forth from the parents in their time of grief. He told of how after leaving the family, he woke up his own son just to hold him and tell him that he loved him. And he cried almost the entire time he told the story to the congregation. I know that I was not the only man in the congregation crying with him. I was not the only one who wanted to give my own kids a hug.

I am glad that I have had real men as role models. I am glad that the myth of our popular American culture that says real men do not cry has been debunked by people like my dad and my uncles. I am glad that I have seen them cry and show their own weaknesses. I am glad that I have a pastor who does the same for the men in our community. I just hope that when I show my weaknesses and when I cry in front of other men and boys that I am being one of those good role models like the men in my life were and still are for me. I hope that I am one of the men out there showing our boys and young men that crying is okay. I hope that my actions show what real strength is. And maybe, just maybe, our popular American culture will change someday and our young men and boys will know what a real man really is – a man who shows strength by admitting and showing weakness.

© 2007 Michael T. Miyoshi

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Published 15 May 2007 in The Monroe Monitor & Valley News


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