[In this six-part feature, Jed Diamond examines his male experience through fatherhood, mental illness, and the Men’s Movement to explore what it means to be a more whole, mindful Man. | Part I: Fatherhood | Part II: My Female and Male Mentors | Part III: Why We Must Disengage from the Woman in Order to Learn to Love | Part IV: Gender Specific Medicine]
Men’s Work at a Time of Massive Transformation
John L. Petersen, President and Founder of the prestigious Arlington Institute, is considered by many to be one of the most informed futurists in the world. He says, “Converging trends strongly suggest that the world–and our country–are about to experience the greatest change and disruption known in our history. The next half dozen years will likely see rapid, global climate change coupled with the beginning of the end of the petroleum era and a reorganization of the planetary energy regime, a major shock to the global financial system, unprecedented food prices, and the growing possibility of wild card events such as a bird flu pandemic.”
The reality of this massive shift in the world was first brought home to be during a sweat lodge ceremony at a men’s conference in 1995. The sweat lodge is an ancient ceremony present in cultures throughout the world, and is often used as a time for cleansing, prayer, and for asking for guidance or visions about the future. In the fourth round of the sweat lodge ceremony the lodge became so hot that many of the men were forced to crawl out. I was sitting at the very back in the hottest spot. I wasn’t aware of the heat because I was transported by a vision:
We are all on a huge ocean liner. It is the Ship of Civilization. Everything that we know and have ever known is on the ship. People are born and die. Goods and services are created, wars are fought, and elections are held. Species come into being and face extinction. The Ship steams on and on and there is no doubt that it will continue on its present course forever.
There are many decks on the ship starting way down in the boiler room where the poorest and grimiest toil to keep the ship going. As you ascend the decks things get lighter and easier. The people who run the ship have suites on the very top deck. Their job, as they see it, is to keep the ship going and keep those on the lower decks in their proper places. Since they are at the top they are sure that they deserve to have the best that the ship has to offer.
Everyone on the lower decks aspires to get up to the next deck and hungers to get to the very top. That’s the way it is. That’s the way it has always been. That’s the way it will always be.
However, there are a few people who realize that something very strange is happening. What they come to know is that the Ship of Civilization is sinking. At first, like everyone else, they can’t believe it. The Ship has been afloat since time before time. It is the best of the best. That it could sink is unthinkable. Nonetheless, they are sure the Ship is sinking.
They try and warn the people, but no one believes them. The Ship cannot be sinking and anyone who thinks so must be out of their mind. When they persist in trying to warn the people of what they are facing, those in charge of the Ship silence them and lock them up. The Ship’s media keeps grinding out news stories describing how wonderful the future will be.
The captains of the ship smile and wave, and promise prosperity for all. But water is beginning to seep in from below. The higher the water rises, the more frightened the people become and the more frantic they scramble to get to the upper decks. Some believe it is the end of the world and actually welcome the prospect of the destruction of life as we know it. They believe it is the fulfillment of religious prophesies. Others become more and more irritable, angry, and depressed and use alcohol, drugs, and other forms of self-medication to escape the pain.
But as the water rises, those who have been issuing the warnings can no longer be silenced. More and more escape confinement and lead the people towards the lifeboats. Though there are boats enough for all, many people are reluctant to leave the Ship of Civilization. “Things may look bad now, but surely they will get better soon,” they say to each other.
Nevertheless, the Ship is sinking. Many people go over the side and are lowered down to the boats. As they descend they are puzzled to see lettering on the side of the ship, T-I-T-A-N-I-C. When they reach the lifeboats many are frightened and look for someone who looks like they know what to do. They’d like to ride with those people.
However, they find that each person must get in their own boat and row away from the Ship in their own direction. If they don’t get away from the Ship as soon as possible they will be pulled under with it. Though each person must row their own boat, they must stay connected to others. When everyone, each in their own boats rowing in their own direction, reaches a certain spot a new kind of network will emerge… It will be the basis for a new way of life that will replace the life that was lived on the old Ship of Civilization.
Since those in charge of the Ship of Civilization do not want to have people off the ship claiming a better way of life, they do their best to silence them. They do their best to discredit dissenters. Those who seem to be attracting too many followers are killed. It is clear that those who get off the Ship must communicate in ways that don’t draw attention to themselves.
I slowly came back to the present and found myself alone at the back of the Sweat Lodge. I wasn’t quite sure what had happened, but the vision was clear in my mind and has remained so ever since. As a scientist, I don’t usually put much store in “visions.” Yet, over the years I have come to trust the intuitive glimpses into the future that many people see. In the years since the vision, a number of people from different backgrounds have validated the essentials of what I experienced.
An old system is going under and a new one is being born.
Some sources I have found particularly helpful include:
Daniel Quinn, author of “Beyond Civilization: Humanity’s Next Great Adventure”
Jared Diamond, author of “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed”
Rebecca D. Costa, author of “The Watchman’s Rattle: A Radical New Theory of Collapse”
David C. Korten, author of “The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community”
Richard Heinberg, author of “The Party’s Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies”
Jed Diamond, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., is Founder and Director of MenAlive, a health program that helps men, and the people who love them, to live well throughout their lives. He is a pioneer in the field of male-gender medicine, integrative mental health, and complementary medicine. Since its inception in 1992, Jed has been on the Board of Advisors of the Men’s Health Network. He is also a member of the International Society of Men’s Health and a founding member of the American Society of Men’s Health.
His work has been featured in major newspapers throughout the United States including the New York Times, Boston Globe,Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, and USA Today. He also did a nationally televised special on Male Menopause for PBS.
Diamond has been a licensed psychotherapist for over 40 years and is the author of ten books including the international best-selling Male Menopause that has thus far been translated into 17 foreign languages.