COME AT ME BRO!! Men and Conflict Resolution

Ah yes, boys will be boys…but does it need to be that way? Jeff’s ‘video essay’ looks at how we need to usher in a new way to ‘fight’.

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It was a sunny day in Vallejo, California when two officers responded to a call regarding a dispute amongst roommates.  The situation, however, quickly became an entirely different situation. The following is raw footage taken from the officer’s body-worn camera that was later anonymously mailed into a ABC news station.

WARNING: This video contains an uncomfortable display of child-man violence.

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Yes, that haunting sound was indeed coming from the young man, as two large men kneel on his chest. His struggle to hold his response in check,  was more important for his survival than the struggle to breathe.

Watch the follow up investigation on ABC News here,

The young U.S. soldier cries and screams back at the screen while being shown the footage of that incident for the first time, the emotion now allowed to surface. Rather than defuse the situation, these two officers escalate and then capture control the very moment their unchecked aggression is challenged. Domination seems to be the way far too many men approach conflict resolution.  It is not the behaviour of all men, but the exalted ceremony of toxic manhood. For some, the only way to handle a disagreement, issue or conflict is ‘like a man’.

…and we all know what that looks like.

“Let’s settle this like men!” or “Let’s take this outside!”  Conflict. Confrontation. Combat. The ritual of men who use violence to solve conflict is a worldwide sacrament that guarantees one outcome: anything but a solution.

“Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.” ― Lao Tzu

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It is a crime more people haven’t seen ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower‘,  To set up this next clip, Charlie’s friend Patrick is secretly dating Brad, the quarterback of their high school football team.  When his teammates bully his secret lover, Brad has to assert his hetero-status on the largest of teenage stages: the school cafeteria. The football players end up beating up Patrick.  Watch how Sam (Emma Watson….yes, Hermione) races to stop the fight. She is tossed aside, as a attempt to defuse the conflict is not valued: the boys need to work it out and resolve this conflict with their fists.

Watch to see how Charlie eventually ‘resolves’ the conflict…

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The clip ends just before a heartbreaking moment where Brad (in the safety of the Principal’s office) thanks Charlie for stopping the beat down of his boyfriend. Consider the glorification of this childish approach to solutions, solving nothing for anyone. FIghting allows the emotions and feelings to surface, while maintaining the macho-code of ‘not having’ emotions or feelings. Consider how an approach of de-escalate, defuse, reasoning and connectivity is devalued because it is considered ‘feminine’.

Our lack of empathy, our disconnect and lack of connectivity leaves us fighting ourselves. We need to learn a new way How To Fight

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Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love. 

                                                                                            – Martin Luther King, Jr. 

 

 

I went to see Russell Brand’s show ‘Messiah Complex’ where he talks about the different approaches of men like Gandhi towards living life. On his talk show, BrandX, Russell attempted to find common ground in an infamous interview with two men from the famous hate group Westboro Baptist Church.  He even manages to at least get one WBC member to give him a hetero-status-assuring bro-hug at the end!!

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Click the image to watch the segment.

OFFICIAL Video- Russell Brand Interviews Westboro Baptist Church - YouTube

Brand disarms their message with a counter-message using humour versus being drawn into an argument. The impact and power of words to spark healing is both well known and undervalued in our society. Brand’s understanding of a better way to engage was highlighted in an arrestingly beautiful piece he wrote for ‘The Sun’. It was an appeal for reason after a gruesome incident shook the world.

Earlier in 2013, a soldier was beheaded on the streets of London. The killers motive was retaliation for Muslim women and children killed by the British army during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ingrid Loyau-Kennett got off a bus and reasoned with the two men as she checked on the lifeless body on the street.  Ingrid and two other women attempted to defuse the situation by asking the men, hovering with bloodied hands that clenching weapons, to realize this would not solve anything. In the aftermath as many people demanding for blood in response to blood, Brand wrote a piece asking we follow the lead of these three women:

“We need now to move closer to one another, to understand one another. If we can take anything heartening from this dreadful attack it is, of course, the actions of the three women — it’s always women — that boldly guarded Lee Rigby’s body as he lay needlessly murdered. These women looked beyond the fear and chaos and desperation and attuned instead to a higher code. One of virtue, integrity and strength.

Let us reach out in the spirit of love and humanity and connect to one another. Perhaps we will then see what is really behind this conflict, this division, this hatred — and make that our focus.”

Tracy Moore described it best in a Facebook conversation that started when I posted Brand’s article, saying “The act of not lashing out in revenge or retaliation but instead approaching with humanity and compassion is an approach is not specific to sex or gender, it is available to everyone at anytime. We need to start pointing out the strength and courage in the feminine and how we can all practice it daily to help heal our relationships and ourselves.”

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“…let me transform every relationship I have with myself. Help me to be free of any conflict with others…Help me create new channels of communication in my relationships so that there is no war for control, there is no winner or loser.”


– A Prayer for Self Love, don Miguel Ruiz

It is time for a new way to fight, brothers. Not to Fight against, not Fight with…but to fight FOR one another, to Strive for one another. Rather than fighting, it is really about striving: to communicate, to open up.

Open up.

Let go.

It’s time for a new way, friends.

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2 thoughts on “COME AT ME BRO!! Men and Conflict Resolution

  1. Excellent post. I didn’t know about the three women that helped defuse the situation in London. It reminds me of Antoinette Tuff, who patiently talked a gunmen out of shooting children at a school in Atlanta, Georgia, and got him to surrender:

    http://colorlines.com/archives/2013/08/meet_antoinette_tuff_crisis_negotiator.html

    I love your philosophical and spiritual quotes. Your last quote about self love echoes my understanding that we must love ourselves first before we can love others.

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