In 1999, the revival of the observance of International Men’s Day (IMD) signaled a watershed in the men’s movement. International Men’s Day was chosen to honor my Dad, a retired Presbyterian minister, who resides in Trinidad and Tobago in the West Indies. His birthday is on 19th November. I also chose the day since on 19 November 1989, the football (soccer) team from my country in its quest to qualify for the World Cup, united the citizens.
Despite its origins, this version of IMD is not about religious conversion, promoting religion, condemning cultures, eradicating capitalism or praising soccer. A slow start and small audience at the observance in 1999 would have been an ominous sign that this effort would be stillborn. Fortunately, the spark was kept burning and the recent explosion of IMD during 2008 and 2009 shocked many critics. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that this seed had blossomed and bore fruit. Yes, IMD easily transcended language barriers, geographic boundaries and religious differences. Furthermore, IMD observances were not restricted to any particular class, gender, age and occupation.
This phase of International Men’s Day is unique in that some of its greatest promoters and supporters are women. These outstanding women such as Diane Sears of the USA and Uma Challa of India have realized the positive benefits IMD will have on our families, neighborhoods, nations and the world. Diane and Uma and the many other women around the world, who support IMD, are visionaries who have been a tremendous asset to the men’s movement.
The children of this world will certainly benefit from IMD. They will be able to differentiate right from wrong. They will be guided along a path of righteousness to become upright and outstanding citizens of integrity. Genuine role models will emerge among children once there is proper guidance and a nurturing environment. And, IMD intends to create this environment.
The celebration of International Men’s Day includes promoting solidarity and developing wholesome individuals. Such developments are badly needed in today’s wounded communities which has many scars due to many doctrinal religious beliefs and constant clashes between men and women. The conflict among men, women and children must cease and the healing must begin. Promoters of IMD must never compromise the Day’s six objectives and be always cautious of responding to critics who are intent on creating confusion. Observers of IMD must try to convince non-believers of equality and those shun peace, of the need for a new way of thinking and interacting with others. Freedom of speech and expression allow others to voice their concerns over IMD. Any comments and criticisms will allow the promoters and supporters of IMD to improve our efforts, reshape our strategies and reassess our goals.
Let us imagine a world where IMD and International Women’s Day were observed five hundred years ago. There probably would be less destruction of the indigenous peoples in the Americas and African slavery might not have happened or would have ended earlier. Additionally, five hundred years ago, society would have allowed women the opportunities to progress, seek an education and be enfranchised. If International Women’s Day and IMD were being observed globally during the first decade of the 20th century, then there might not have been World Wars One and Two. If IMD was being promoted there would have been more caring world leaders who would have intervened to prevent the Holocaust and devastation due to atomic weapons. Today, we must appreciate the potential of such days as IMD and International Women’s Day in improving our lives, positively influencing those who govern us and preserving our environment.
Undoubtedly, in a united society we will be better equipped to eliminate or reduce evils as poverty, unemployment and racism and truly create a healed world. International Men’s Day must be the voice for troubled souls, the voice for the oppressed and the voice for the weak. In this century and beyond, IMD Coordinators and supporters must see themselves as serving this world.