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23 March, 2010

ICONS, ALICE IN WONDERLAND, AND AVATAR: DR. JEROME TEELUCKSINGH



Certain aspects of the personal lives of a number of the world’s sports and political icons have made headlines and shocked many of us. While their indiscretions have become fodder for tabloids and radio and television talk shows, we need to remember that these men publicly apologized for their actions. More importantly, the wives of these men forgave them despite intense embarrassment. This forgiveness and acceptance is the essence of International Men’s Day (“IMD”).

The observance of International Men’s Day is not merely to highlight positive male role models. We also need to remember and attempt to rescue those men who are not empowered and feel worthless and hopeless. Yes, it is no secret that there are millions of boys and men who constantly battle demons of drug addiction. Some are guilty of serious crimes as murder, rape, adultery, child abuse and domestic violence. These men who are guilty of all these crimes cannot be shunned or alienated. Each must be embraced as we search for a solution. These problems are not restricted to any particular class, gender, nationality, age, religion, race or ethnic group. No person must be left behind. The prisoner, politician, priest, and pauper with their shortcomings and faults are all welcome to participate in International Men’s Day. Indeed, IMD is an attempt to find that elusive cure for the anger, rage, hurt and jealousy which continue to stalk our communities. The process of exorcism and healing must begin now! Within IMD we can search for and devise solutions to the gangs our neighbourhoods and defusing violence in our schools.

The observance of International Men’s Day marks the beginning of a non-violent revolution. The annual observance of International Men’s Day on November 19th indicates a deep concern for the numerous problems plaguing our families and by extension our society. It is annually observed by both men and women who support the effort to reform and save our troubled, dysfunctional males in our society. Celebrating International Men’s Day will ultimately produce responsible and caring fathers, husbands and sons.

The recent movie Avatar deals with the clash of two cultures. The plot deals with some uncaring, military officers from Earth who violently clash with the peaceful indigenous inhabitants from Pandora. This Avatar battle is part of reality when we consider the ongoing gender war. We are all familiar with frequent clashes and misunderstanding which occurs between boys and girls, and men and women. The annual observance of International Men's Day on November 19th seeks to build bridges between men and women. This special Day is to break down barriers of distrust, hate and enmity among men and also between men and women.

There are co-ordinators across the globe who volunteered their time and energy to promote IMD. Their concerns are genuine and the common bond uniting these co-ordinators of IMD is their belief in individuals deciding to change their lives. The mission of these co-ordinators has rescued numerous individuals from the depths of destruction and despair. I want to personally salute these unsung heroes and thank all the supporters, promoters and organizers of IMD observances. They do not seek fame and glory but believe in a dream. They are striving for gender equality and patiently attempt to remove the negative images and the stigma associated with men in our society. Their successes are obvious from the fact that each year there has been an increase in observances. These co-ordinators have been ably assisted by men’s organisations, women’s groups, gender departments at universities and individuals who have annually joined in similar ventures to celebrate International Men’s Day. I appeal to individuals and organizations to take a bold step and decide to be co-ordinators or hold annual observances of International Men’s Day on 19th November.

Feminists and activists in the men’s movement should not feel threatened by International Men’s Day. They need to realise that IMD is another phase of the men’s movement. Many of their goals are similar to the six pillars of International Men’s Day which include improving gender relations and promoting gender equality. The focus of IMD is on males and females. The observance of this Day will help reduce the polarization between the men’s movement and the women’s movement. Yes, International Men’s Day highlights the common bonds of humanity.

In the movie Alice in Wonderland, the major character, Alice, meets strange characters. During her adventures, Alice is often fearful, confused and unsure of whom to trust. Today there are many wives, mothers and sisters who can identify with Alice. Unfortunately too many of our precious females live in fear of men, cannot trust males or are confused in relationships. The same can be said of our boys and men who sometimes are confused and fearful of females. Men and boys need to ask themselves certain questions in trying to resolve these situations and understand their roles and status in society. How do I handle conflict situations? How do we separate the men from the boys? Am I a man merely because I am physically strong and can use force others to settle disputes? Am I a man because I drink alcohol or smoke? Am I a man because I hold powerful positions in a still male-dominated world? Let me pose some questions - Can men handle changing gender roles? Gentle-men what is your role in society? Where are your priorities?

We have witnessed an alarming increase in the number of deaths - suicides and murders emanating from domestic disputes and family arguments. Too much blood has been spilled, too many lives shattered and too many homes wrecked. Males are often portrayed as perpetrators of violence and abuse in the home. We need to stop these stereotypes.

Those persons supporting International Men’s Day seek to transform the negative images of masculinity or femininity and restore the dignity and respect between males and females in the family and society. By informing your group, organization, government, friends, public institutions and neighborhood, the message can reach a wider audience. Undoubtedly, your support will assist in building¬¬ a society aspiring for peace and a more tolerant and understanding future generation.

Those seeking to improve our world, urgently need the assistance of the media, government and non-governmental organizations, schools, religious bodies and concerned individuals. Only then would there be a chance for real change. IMD must be a period of enlightenment, we must emerge as dynamic warriors with a mandate to positively transform our society. Ours must not be merely voices in the wilderness.

Today we must start the almost herculean task of cutting off the many headed hydra of domestic violence and other crimes relating to the family. The focus will be on the males and females and finding solution to the myriad of problems facing us in society.

There is no room for failure and we must promote constructive dialogue between both sexes for greater understanding and tolerance. Today we need to unite our forces and vow to never accept defeat. Let us join hands and hearts for International Men’s Day to promote unity, resolve disputes, cultivate greater understanding between men and women, increase tolerance and thus create a safer, better world.




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