MANHOOD has always been associated with three words: brawn, money, and power. Men have long been told that in order to be a real man, it’s important to be macho, regardless of how you treat other people.
As a sister to two brothers, this thought can be quite alarming. Is this all that is expected of men these days? That as long as he has fame, fortune, and brawn he can go around treating people, especially women, with no respect?
Men are supposed to be leaders but lately, it seems like more men are on the endless Peter Pan syndrome: wanting all the perks of adulthood without actually committing to the responsibilities of being one.
These thoughts were on my mind when a good friend, Jodi Sta. Maria, gave and encouraged me to read the book Act Like a Man by Dennis Sy. Dennis, who is the senior pastor of Victory Greenhills, jumpstarted the movement actlikeaman.org in the hopes of helping “Filipino men to become more responsible, accept responsibilities, be productive, and treat women with love and respect.” The blog, which is the leading blog for men in Asia, was created out of the lack of resources teaching men the virtues mentioned above.
When asked what inspired him to create a book as inspired by the movement, he answered, “We live in an age today where men have remained boys. It’s what we call Peter Pan syndrome—boys who shave. The book is an answer and a tool for men to live out real manhood today by embracing their unique roles in the family and society.”
The book highlights the importance of accepting the role given to men, to not simply be passive about the lives they are leading but being active in knowing what their passions are and in living a life that is true to these passions. For Dennis, being a man is more than just what he receives from those around him, but lies in what he contributes to his family and society.
He explained, “Men are to be producers. Men, in our culture, have been defined by what we consume rather than by what we produce. We need to tend our fields and be fruitful in whatever field God has called us. When men start to see themselves as cultivators, it would reflect in our marriages. We would treat our wife with respect and love her exclusively. We would commit to be faithful to her. We would be planners and bring direction to our marriages and family.”
Dennis added that taking responsibility is the first step in becoming the man the society seeks for today. Men who know their purpose, act on it, and surround themselves with mentors who would teach them the truth about being a real man.
That being a man, unlike what society teaches, has nothing to do with what a man gets but in what he can give to those around him.
And while finding men with purpose, passion, and values maybe similar to finding a needle in a haystack, it’s men like Dennis who are brave enough to pursue their purpose prove that there is hope after all. That maybe, just maybe, one man’s bravery would be enough to start a change that’s most needed in today’s generation.
* * *
For more on Dennis Sy and the book Act Like a Man, visit actlikeaman.org.