Practical Resistance


While I continue to build my new site and hopefully go live with it soon, I’m sharing a tool I developed to help all of us Resist the insanity, violence and misery the Trump administration is producing today and will produce tomorrow.

This is part 1 of an Excel Spreadsheet I put together containing the fax and telephone numbers, and other useful info, for the Republicans in the Senate. The information is widely available at many excellent sites ( &, but having them organized in one place makes sending a large number of faxes pretty easy.

Senate Republicans

I encourage everyone to download the file and start a faxing campaign of their own. The idea is to saturate our “elected” officials with different ways of thinking about the issues like reproductive rights or climate change. It’s always good to start with your state’s delegation to Congress, but it’s just as important to contact everyone on the list.

Part 2 contains the same info for the so-called House Freedom Caucus, the most ideologically extreme of the House.

House Freedom Caucus

Since it’s important to be in contact with other progressives, or at least the Democrats in Congress as easily as Republicans, I am working to complete a database of Senate Dems. as well. Also… I am building several targeted databases that will contain the info for MOC’s who support specific legislation like defunding Planned Parenthood, abortion, climate change deniers etc.

Since we can easily find out what specific businesses, corporations and so on are supporting the Conservative agenda, we can open another front in this war on all those Trumpettes by organizing boycotts of their products and services.

Between faxing or calling Congress I prefer faxes for the hardcopy that someone has to hold in their hand. Faxing also has a different impact than cold calls. With a call you may have the chance to give a detailed account of your concern, but it could easily be discarded or “lost” by staff who don’t share your thoughts. With a fax, you have one shot at getting their attention, but now, it’s physically in their hand and not as easily dismissed. No doubt, calling AND faxing is more effective.

My hope is to help them THINK differently about something the same way poetry or an inspirational quote might make you and I think differently about something; by “tweaking” their hearts, and maybe giving them a “ahah!” moment. So my faxes are more like mini-posters, each with a specific message written, in a hard not to see, Arial or Helvetica, 38 to 72pt font.

Here are a couple of other tips:

  • Remember, fax machines often don’t print clearly so make your font BOLD to help their printer.
  • Faxing AND calling are more effective than either one alone.
  • Faxes should be one page.
  • Reward good behavior with faxes that make them feel good.
  • Identify yourself by putting your name and email at the bottom.
  • Be respectful. Never attack MOC’s personally, call them names or go after their religion. Never try to intimidate them or their staff.
  • It’s useful to target specific Senators or Representatives on specific issues or bills.
  • Shock value has its place, but be careful with it.

Here are a couple of examples of faxes I sent recently: Right click to view or download.


Example 1

Example 2

Example 3


Are You a Real Man?

 Let Gov. Pence of Indiana Know!

maxresdefaultOn March 25th Indiana’s governor Mike Pence signed into law one of the most restrictive, if not cruel, abortion laws in the nation. HB 1337 is interested only in the contents of a woman’s uterus, and makes no allowance for the well-being of the mother. This means that if a woman is carrying what the bill describes as a fetus diagnosed with Down’s syndrome or other disability, she will go to prison if she terminates that pregnancy, even if it is within the 20 week time frame provided by current Indiana law.

Since Indiana’s governor and legislature are so intent upon clawing their way into a woman’s uterus, it seems that their idea of “small government” has taken another enormous leap into an intrusive over-reach by the state, and this time they are up to their elbows. Not only will neocon Pence have to fight for re-election in November, the ACLU will likely block implementation of the new law, calling it unconstitutional, and thousands of protestors have shown up at the capital in Indianapolis. Although HB 1337 is hailed, by its supporters, as an “anti-discrimination” measure intended to protect the lives of fetus’s with disabilities, it’s just another way that a small group of “elitist” conservatives are crowbarring their way past the law of the land, Roe vs. Wade.

Gender inequality is bad for everyone, so as a man I can’t help but feel a resonance, even a kinship with women, indeed, with anyone who has experienced stunning oppression and survived. From birth to death, women are constantly assessed for their “womanliness”, and probed for their “willingness” to have sex. Men too, face an assessment of their reproductive status and manliness (is there a difference?) every day of their lives, and in that sense we are all confronted with a global menace of male domination and control. It’s only proper that men should respond in kind to offer support to the 1,287,000 Indiana women of reproductive age, and women everywhere, who resist the ongoing objectification of their wombs and bodies.

images-4I have suffered, as most men have, the wounds of objectification, so ever since an anonymous Indiana woman started a wonderful Facebook page called “Periods for Pence”, protesting Pence’s signature on this draconian piece of legislation, I have been thinking about what an appropriate response from men might look like. Since “Periods for Pence” asks women to report to the governor the exact contents of their vaginas and uteruses – to keep him apprised of their reproductive status – we men could respond by providing the governor with an assessment of our reproductive status and maleness.

To make it easy, I’ve created a handy test to help Mr. Pence assess our manliness. While this is mostly a tongue-in-cheek look at what qualifies men to be regarded, as the Velveteen Rabbit once said, as really real, it isn’t very funny at all. However, if my attempt at humor causes you to squirm a bit, there might be some “inconvenient truths” hiding inside that have everything to do with our perceptions of gender. Humor does not make it any less serious, so feel free to copy it and call or fax your own responses to governor Pence and the bill’s co-sponsors noted at the bottom.

Reproductive Assessment for Men (RAM)

Check here ____ if you are White. Add 10 points.

Check here if you are over 6 feet tall and 200 lbs. ____. Add 10 points.

Check here if you are between the ages of 15 and 30. ___ Add 5 points.

Check here if you have whined about being in pain in the last month ____. Subtract 5 points.

In the last year…

  1. I had sex with ____ women, other than my partner.
  2. I hired a woman over a man and paid her 21% less than I would have paid him ____ times.
  3. I own ____ power tools rated in excess of 50 amps or 5 hp. (Electric toothbrushes don’t count!)
  4. I supported the invasion of ____ countries.
  5. I have ____ Confederate flags flying from my truck.
  6. I quoted the Bible ____ times to my kids, especially the scary parts about fire and brimstone.
  7. I cat-called ____ women on the street.
  8. I signed onto ____ times.
  9. I hung out at Home Depot ___ times, even when I didn’t need anything.
  10. I shamed my boys ____ times for being cry babies.
  11. I refused service to LGBT people ____ times.
  12. I own ____ automatic weapons. (Add a point for each high capacity magazine.)
  13. I have prayed my kids aren’t homosexual ____ times.
  14. I have voted for____ legislators who are anti-abortion or anti-Planned Parenthood.
  15. I have denied the existence of climate change ____ times.
  16. I have thought that white men are superior and should have privileges  ____ times.
  17. I have gotten teary over old Promise Keepers footage ____ times.
  18. I have refused to go to couples counseling with my wife ____ times.
  19. I have been persecuted by women ____ times.
  20. I have ___ American flags on my property.

Add up all your points. If they total 20 or more I’m sure the Governor’s office will be happy to update your manliness quotient. If your total points are less than 20, then your manliness is officially in question. To remedy this, we suggest 500 pushups a day, eating more red meat, and if either of those options don’t work, wearing a jock strap 2 sizes too small is sure to do the trick.

Governor Pence 317-232-4567

Co-sponsor HB 1337: Casey Cox 317-232-9863    


Co-sponsor: Liz Brown 317-232-9400    email:


Are You A Real Man? © Robert Hartman 2016

So You Think Patriarchy is Dead?

confused god-3When 19th century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche proclaimed in The Gay Science (1882), that “God is dead”, he didn’t mean it. He didn’t mean that god was literally ‘dead’; he meant that the idea of God was a bad fit with the rapid social and technologic changes of the day. Today, as any number of men’s right’s groups, and authors like Hanna Rosin, author of The End of Men, come forward, with their Ameri-centric views saying that women have it better than ever; proclaiming that, yup, Patriarchy is kaput, finished; I wonder how blind they can be to the reality of the suffering of women and children all around the world (and men), including the U.S.A.?

I was also much disappointed by the lack of solidarity men’s rights groups or this author showed towards the impoverished and traumatized Syrian women and children, say, who are forbidden to speak frankly about anything as freely as Rosin, since these Muslim and Christian women are too busy avoiding being raped by a “devout” Muslim man, beheaded, or starved to death by an all-male militia. Still think Patriarchy is dead?

Even if you happen to believe that everything west of NYC is wilderness, the stunning inequalities and lack of gender justice in the Americas continues to overshadow significant gains made by women. But let’s get real. Apart from the obvious interest men’s rights groups have in cloaking their aggressions and squirreling away their power beneath a clever, if not twisted device of male victimhood; if it were true that Patriarchy is dead, then everyone, including men, would be feeling free to live their lives with a lot less fear, and we’d be hearing a lot less from groups like

If Patriarchy is dead, then a global hallelujah, heard by all, would spread like a cool rain over a hot and thirsty Earth. We could realize the late Andrea Dworkin’s plea for “24 hours without rape”. If it were true, then women wouldn’t have to worry about workplace discrimination or equal wages. If wishes were horses, then..

  • The Islamic Pseudo State wouldn’t corral and sell off women to a fate beyond imagining.
  • If it were true, Afghani women would have lives of their own choosing.
  • If it were true, girls wouldn’t have to endure genital mutilation in parts of Africa, or incest in Alabama.
  • If it were true, no young man would ever be sent off to war again.
  • If it were true, women wouldn’t have to bargain for rights to their own bodies, anywhere.
  • If it were true, the lead from contaminated water in the children of Flint, Michigan, mostly poor and black, wouldn’t exist, and they wouldn’t face a life with permanent brain damage, at immense cost to the state.
  • If it were true, then children everywhere would get summer back.spring_and_summer_breath_of_picture_2_165972
  • If it were true, boys everywhere could throw off the obligations of dominator and aggressor, and be boys, just boys. SIGH…

Perhaps my thoughts are totally utopian and simplistic, but I find the claim that “Patriarchy is dead” insulting. Even so, a utopian vision is just what we need. If we aim for “good enough”, what will our children’s children face? In a future world culture that values happiness and equality (there I said it), we would ALL be free of the patri-cratic machinery that binds us to a god, a place and a role; feminism as a psycho-political construct would loose its resolve, and the Tea Party would blow away like morning fog on Highway 1.

Patriarchy will be dead when men no longer feel the need to bluster and bloat their way to everyone’s ruin. Even so, such shooting-stabbing-mindless arrogance is far from a corpus frigus, as some would have us believe.

For radical feminist Kate Millett, exactly how many light years we are from a “pulseless patriarchy” depends on how long we hold onto traditional cultural norms. Millet envisions these destructive norms in the context of the patriarchal, monogamous marriage that, she says, enslaves women (and men) (My brackets) (Mirkin, Harris, The Theory of Patriarchy). Nowhere is solidarity with this scheme more fleshed-out than within the conservative men’s rights movement.

For all of the noise coming out of men’s rights groups these days, like this familiar grind: “See? We gave women rights and they made us men the underdogs!”, sounds more like the plaintiff cry of a school child who just had his balls taken away. Let’s get real again. Research agrees, when you or I give something away that benefits someone else, we are the healthier for it. Yet when these men-as-patriarchy feel smaller and less powerful for having given up a trifle of what is rightfully women’s to begin with, I think that such a system is already dead.

When Nietzsche panned ‘God’ as dead in the face of say, atheism, he was suggesting that God’s offerings were empirically bankrupt before godlessness. Patriarchy is bankrupt because its accomplishments cannot compete with its disasters: climate change, racism, endless wars, and so on. And in a nod to slavery, even the Confederate flag is still waving somewhere in the South, (and, on a pick-up truck near you).

Oh yea, I would say that Patriarchy is a dead duck for sure. It just hasn’t hit the ground yet.

So You Think Patriarchy is Dead? © Robert Hartman Feb 2016

The Male Box

The recent occupation of a collection of vacant U.S. Wildlife service buildings in Oregon by Ammon and Ryan Bundy, along with a handful of armed, angry anti-government extremists, is manhood at it’s most aimless and stupid best. Out there on the edge of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge a few armed men were betting that by “storming” an empty federal facility, and occupying it, men of like politics and temperament would be inspired to join their rebellion.

After all, Ammon and Ryan Bundy were card-carrying rebels. In 2014, they stood with their Dad, Cliven, in a showdown with federal government officials over years of unpaid grazing fees and the subsequent confiscation of his cattle. This quickly led to an armed confrontation with authorities. Supporters counted it as a rebel victory when, in a bid to de-escalate tensions, the feds returned the cattle to Cliven, enshrining him and his sons forever, in the cloth of the quintessential rebel.

It didn’t pan out the way the rebel Bundy’s might’ve hoped though. Only a relative few showed up to support them, and the very reason they created the standoff to begin with, the release of the Hammonds serving extended prison time for burning Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land, evaporated like so many clouds when the Hammond family disavowed any support from the Bundy’s. I imagine the publicized rejection of Bundy’s efforts was more or less staged by law enforcement, either way, Bundy quickly shifted his focus to his family’s grievance with the BLM over the matter of land use rights. And just as quickly, I shifted my focus to the fact that he owes over a million bucks in past due grazing fees and fines to the U.S. government. And they got smacked down again when both the Burns’ Paiute Indian tribe, and the town of Burns, the site of several rallies for the Hammond’s, asked the Bundy Bunch to stick a knife in it and call it done.

But they weren’t done, were they? Lacking any motion from law enforcement, they went ahead with plans to convene a citizens grand jury. One order of business would have brought their nemesis, Harney County Sheriff, David Ward to trial, in absentia, I would think. While these trials are shams with no legality to them, that the Bundy’s thought it was OK to devolve themselves into a rank court of cowboy justice is a frightening reflection of what really arouses the hard right everywhere; an echo of sharia law in the Middle-East beheading thousands of non-believers and destroying world heritage sites. It pretty clear why Noam Chomsky, noted radical and MIT professor emeritus, would claim that the U.S. Republican party is now so extreme that it “poses a serious danger to human survival”.

Despite their hopes and machinations, at the end of the day, Ammon, Ryan and their ragtag band of gun toting extremists, will have nothing more to show for their trouble than a lost cause, legal fees, jail time, lost wages, and unexamined rage. Several of these men have expressed an overblown wish to die for “their cause”, and who can blame them? Most will have a prison cell waiting when the dust dies down. Yet, for weeks, the feds never gave them the chance for a clear shot. Quite sensibly, they avoided confrontation and let the protestors stew in their own juices for awhile. The much anticipated confrontation with authorities, the wild shootout many of them literally hoped for, the shootout that never materialized, has left many of them trapped and hapless, with no outlet for their rage. Sadly, LaVoy Finicum did give his life to his cause, a cause some would call patriotic and therefore worthwhile, others would call a waste of a life.

Whatever we may think of their protest, the failure of the Bundy Bunch to galvanize their followers, and grow a revolution from their small rebellion is reflective, not only of bad planning, but of a much larger impoverishment of personal hope and power amongst men the world over. This becomes apparent when you consider their plans to put those who stood in their way on trial, in a kangaroo-style court.

While the descent into medievalism is alarming, it’s hardly news that men are in crisis, but not anymore of a crisis than he has been in for 2000 years. The men’s crisis is driven by ancient, inelastic patriarchal rules that we all agree to everyday. So-called authority figures and cultural norms mercilessly bind and judge boys and men across time. Men are in crisis because the primer on masculinity, in most cultures, does not expose boys to the full range of feelings, expressions, and ideas that boys and men require in a complex, post modern world. Moreover, this recipe trains boys to doubt themselves, their inherent goodness, and the value of tenderness should they ever wander outside the male-box.

Men are vulnerability-phobic. It is manifested, say, in our infamous inability to ask for directions or, more importantly, by our climate-change-denier U.S. Congress who repeatedly sinks legislation to address it, and then indulges themselves in one flawed analysis after another (think climate change, the Iraq invasion); that rarely reflect a true assessment of our situation – the true nature of the environmental, technological, and social changes swirling about us. Rather, because men are hemmed in by the male-box, he overwhelms easily, and strikes out at vulnerability everywhere. Since we are often traumatized by a socializing process most depersonalizing, we often lack the internal resources to cope with, or even thrive in the midst of a world of increasing uncertainty.

But man is also in crisis because the rest of US, the growing countless, have had enough of his headlines and arrogance, just like the folks in Burns, Oregon. The rest of US are sick of the macabre paradoxes that men create between life and death. Neither civilization nor the planet can afford the catastrophes that brittle, unstable men inflict on our world. Yet terrorism carves its way through innocent populations throughout the middle east, and the west too, like a scythe through a field of ripe wheat. Climate change is pounding on our door, yet eco-terrorists in Congress are still squabbling over whether it even exists; after all, they have other fish to fry, like defunding Planned Parenthood.

The connection between the Bundy Bunch and the larger concerns of terrorism and climate change are found in the fear and greed underpinning the origins of all three. However it happened that the Bundy’s racked up over a million dollars worth of fines and fees is, for the most part, inexplicable. However you look at it, I suspect it was Cliven’s lack of business sense, and not the lofty goals of a fight over Constitutional rights, that drove a relatively small debt into an enormously unmanageable one, which gave birth to his passion for Constitutional law.

A million dollars, I think, has more to do with radicalizing the Bundy’s to extremism than any other factor. Cloaking personal failings and lies about their family’s history beneath an anti–government protest is the perfect way to dump rage, sidestep responsibility, and to avoid feeling the cold sweats and knotted gut Ammon must be experiencing as he watches his political capital go south. He scrambles for a reason for his protest to exist… thinking it’s less messy thinking in black and white...He seizes upon an idea: Let’s put the bastards on trial!

Just like a home-grown extremist like Bundy, your average recruit for the Islamic Pseudo State (IPS) has black and white tunnel vision too. Socially isolated young men, especially 2nd generation Muslims living in the West, are prime targets of Islamic recruiters. But it’s the western kid too, sitting in the back of the room, the kid we took for an artifact of normlessness, the one we didn’t make room for, the kid that got boxed in. Not knowing what to do with his vulnerability, let alone know what to call it, he is easy prey in the hands of Islamic recruiters skilled in appealing to his disaffection, and supplying him with a direction, no matter how malevolent. Over 7,000 young men, from the west, have traveled to Iraq and Turkey to train as IPS soldiers.

Normlessness, often called Anomie, is an unstable condition brought about by a breakdown of social and cultural norms and values. What it means for us is that the rules for behavior are unknown, or misunderstood. It’s this state of normlessness that we, as a world culture, approach the environment with. Mankind doesn’t know how to act in a way that is cordial to Earth, instead he blunders in with all the skill of an Ammon Bundy storming a vacant Wildlife service facility. Aside from walking in her forests, climbing her mountains, and swimming in her ponds, men don’t know how to talk to her. Most cannot fathom her oceans, or think like a mountain, but they do know how to exploit her. If it weren’t for the rules laid down by the Environmental Protection Agency, and other agencies in the U.S. that protect us from unscrupulous corporations and the like, we’d be more than awash in toxins. These are protections that the greedy U.S. House would love to dismantle.

Except in a few tiny corners of society, like Green Peace or the Sierra club, there is very little in the way of moral or ethical gravity lent to the conversations in corporate boardrooms that could appreciate the idea of planetary etiquette. Climate change and the environmental pollution is still all about the fear of not having enough which looks like greed. Lots of data, e.g. CO2 levels etc., tells us which way we are going, and how close the cliff is. That’s a good thing, I get that, but real change will not happen until we re-tool our hearts, not just our factories, in a way that reflects new thinking: Earth as sacred, child as sacred. I think Earth and the sacred child would want a divine or moral imperative that spoke directly to the matter of why, on Earth, would we pee into the same can that we live in??

I mean, isn’t that a little like pissing in the pews? I think it’s a good way to characterize how Patriarchy writes the rules that allows for profit before people and everything else; that turns a monument of sacred forests into a cash cow. And in the same strut of dogma, turns out a pile of boys into tidy boxes so someone can train them… We are well on the way to making the sacred uninhabitable: the sacred wood, the sacred feminine, and the sacred child.

But what about the sacred masculine? When it comes to squeezing a boy into his box, figuratively, and somewhat fantastically speaking, most boys don’t fit in right away, at least not until some of the girl is taken out of him. Erasure of the feminine is like this. Over a few thousand years most of us men have had a lot of the feminine juice squeezed out of us. There’s been an awful lot of forgetting and squandering of the sacred male.

The great forgetting has led to a great deal of confusion, disconnection, doubt, and fear among men. Although this common bond of fear doesn’t always grow up into greed and hatred, we are Cliven, Ammon, and Ryan Bundy. Many if not all of their fears are our fears too, and in that sense we are brothers and sisters. In the same way we are the terrorist, as repugnant and ignoble as that may feel. If the possibility of compassion is true for one, it must be true for all. In a pair of most primal of fears, “Will I have enough? Is there room for me?” is a cry for love and acceptance, and for those men who didn’t get enough of either, there could be no end to his struggles.


The Male-Box © Robert Hartman Jan 2016





In For a Penny In For a Pound

No one could have predicted it would start this way. There weren’t any mushroom clouds boiling over once great cities. No mad dash to bomb shelters packed with frightened people. No flock of nuclear tipped cruise missiles screaming through the sky to their various points of detonation; just bodies of good men, women, and children over flowing the morgues and grief over flowing the streets. Not yet, anyway.

BwtJ_mKIQAA5LqhThis is the moment that many in the world have feared the most: World War 3. If any doubt remains that men have pushed us over the threshold into another world war, consider that if the Islamic-Pseudo-State can turn a concert hall in Paris into a killing field, then no doubt, London, Denver, or Elko, Nevada, for that matter, could be next. (IPS, They don’t deserve official standing with a name like “The Islamic State” or ISIS of all things, the Egyptian Goddess of Life) Consider also, there are over 60 nations (98 in WW 2) actively committed to defeating IPS. Even so, the terrorists have demonstrated their willingness to murder and rape anyone they please, and with that threat going global, all nations are at risk.

There isn’t time or luxury for empty rhetoric or a “cut and run” mentality. By some estimates, the IPS has upwards of 200,000 crazed men fighting on 2 fronts with more joining everyday, so there’s nothing to stop them from thinking BIG.  Jurgen Todenhofer, a German journalist who spent time with the terrorist group last year says, “it’s a nuclear tsunami preparing the largest religious cleansing in history”. People in the know reassure us that it is unlikely the IPS could get their hands on a nuclear device, but they also admit it is possible. I am not reassured. Even though it’s not clear what they would do with such a device if they had one, it would represent enormous leverage on the world stage.

OK, I admit it. I’m scared. We are at a turning point in history. We can’t bungle the job like we did in Rwanda or Nazi ISIS-ExecutionGermany by under reacting or doing nothing. It is in our best interest to avoid the morning after recriminations of shoulda, woulda, coulda. Compared to Hitler’s Nazi Germany, the IPS has the ambition to spread their brand of primitive Islam throughout the world. This time, they aren’t just targeting infidels in Syria and Iraq; its ambition is to convert everyone. (Read more: The Threat of Biblical ReconstructionismThat means they’d like to kill a few hundred million and drag civilization into a dark age. After the recent attack in Beirut, just a day before Islamic terrorists murdered 129 in Paris, we realized that the attacks are not just aimed at westerners, but innocent Muslims and Christians too. You and me. The target is anyone who doesn’t agree with their dark age mentality. Indeed, there is a razor sharp knife at all our throats now.

What’s worse, our leaders appear to be in criminal denial over the seriousness of the threat that this particular brand of terrorism truly is. Obviously the most dangerous thing we can do, which the international community seems to be doing, is to underestimate our vulnerability. After Beirut, Paris, and the downing of a Russian airliner, we lost over 400 good souls to an arrogant kind of complacency. Perhaps our greatest vulnerability is in forgetting what wounded people will do to recover their souls. I am again reminded of the genocide in Rwanda where not one nation lifted a finger to prevent the slaughter of hundreds of thousands Tutsi’s. We are reminded of the Holocaust, that even as Hitler was warming up his killing machine, Allied leaders, including the Vatican, were tone deaf to what the Nuremberg laws foreshadowed. Denial had to be enshrined at the institutional level for the Japanese government to disbelieve that Allied bombers could reach their shores. The American Doolittle raids in 1942 proved otherwise, but it only stiffened the Japanese government’s egomaniacal denial. The total destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the eventual results of such denial and miscalculation.

Whatever they want to call it, the IPS is not waging a holy war. At its core this is not about Islam at all, but a war unconsciously intended to heal 200,000 wounded souls. They may wear the mantle of Allah as they spread their inner terror, but psychologically speaking, these men are undifferentiated from their traumas. Put another way, they cannot separate themselves from the stunning trauma and psychological devastation perpetrated on them by almost continuous war. It’s a classic response for trauma victims to reenact their trauma on others, but no religious belief can account for the thousands of tortured, dead or beheaded non-believers. Where the perpetrators were abused, humiliated and made subjectively powerless by war and western ideological aggression, as men now, they make others powerless too. It doesn’t matter how organized or sophisticated they are, these men/terrorists are still the wounded dogs of a patriarchal machine that feeds on its own. It is the cycle of violence and revenge that began many many millennia ago, and like any vortex, the human race cannot, by any material action, pull itself free of the immense gravity of its traumatic legacy anymore than the terrorist can. It will require a change of heart.

All trauma is historical. The first Crusade was launched by Pope Urban II in 1096. 900 years later western interference continues with a vengeance in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Palestine. We already know what European colonialism did to Native Americans and Africans, but we sometimes forget Arabs were victims of a (patriarchal) European colonialism that carved up the Middle East after World War 1 in the same way it devastated Africa. In the Middle East and Africa, the West sees a service sector that should supply it with raw materials like slaves and oil. We should not be surprised that the IPS has started a crusade of their own.

That much of the violence in the Middle East is home grown is not much comfort since we in the west created the stage for it. In the long history of western economic, social and military brutalism towards the region in general, transgenerational trauma has chewed through 30 generations of young middle eastern boys and men. Although no one talks about it, among the many ironies of war is the realization that the West’s malignant meddling in the Middle East has done more to radicalize it’s young men than any web site or mosque.

unlimitedneed.edAnd why not? Western culture with its ethic of consumption and individualism is a cultural miscue for many Middle Easterners and some Westerners too. Large numbers of disillusioned, and broken hearted young men from Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, Belgium have traveled to Syria to die, if need be, for Allah. The U.K. estimates that as many as 600 Brits
have joined the fight too. But dismay at European arrogance is old news and so is the counter-shock of European violence against indigenous peoples like the First Americans. When will we learn? North American indigenous communities continue to suffer from the catastrophic results of the extraordinary arrogance of European colonists, my ancestors, as they spread over the land like locusts 200 years ago. Two centuries later, nothing has changed.

In America, the Bruce Springsteen refrain, “at least in America I know I’m free” is the darling of the conservative cause. Freedom is understood and exercised in conservative America the way it was 200 years ago, with a sense of arrested, preordained arrogance. This narcissistic take on freedom continues to provide the rationale for committing acts of eco-terrorism upon the sacred land we live on in the name of economic progress, otherwise known as greed. The freedom to acidify the oceans, foul the air, change the climate, pollute the soil. The freedom to contaminate everything in between with the millions of tons of industrial chemicals produced every year to make the junk we westerners are raised to feverishly purchase, only to discard 6 months later.

Frankly, rebellion against such insanity is a good thing, but no one in the U.S., Europe or the Middle East has the audaciousness to effectively confront the confounding issues of our time directly: war, social injustice, hunger, climate change and stunning inequality and cruelty. What looks like indifference on the part of the west, produces a pathological 0indifference to life on the part of terrorists; those dead canaries in the coal mine – we could have seen the canaries falling like rain at Columbine High School, we could have seen them again at Sandy Hook and a hundred places in between. Our kids are mirroring our own truths, but no one is listening, so now their rage has turned to carnage.

Until explosions and gun fire rocked the French capital, European leaders were just as reticent to fully engage the IPS as the Americans were. After the attacks in Paris, France is pursuing a more aggressive course against the IPS. Russia too seems to be in the mood to cooperate, while the U.S. continues to rule out ground troops saying it’s the wrong strategy. Since World War 3 is already here, it is foolish to continue hiding from the obvious. President Obama and his advisors don’t know to what extremity a broken heart will go to heal itself.

It’s awful to think that as this generation of young men goes on fighting war after war; in the belly of Europe, in the belly of Syria, in the belly of the U.S. the next generation of war torn children are being conceived. We ought to know there is no such thing as a good war, but fighting the medievalist IPS is more than a common cause, it represents a choice about what sort of people we Earthlings are. Failing to fully come out against such medievalism serves to further normalize and desensitize us to the murder and suffering hundreds of thousands have already experienced.  The only way forward is to utilize whatever resources are at our disposal to directly confront all terrorist organizations and in doing so, affirm life and all it means. We give a resounding NO to tyranny in any form, and a YES to decency. There is an opportunity to give the hellish patriarchy that authorizes this violence a shove towards the door. Either choice will have a major impact for generations to come.

The conditions that allowed terrorist organizations like the Taliban, al Qaeda and the IPS to emerge have nothing to do with guns and missiles. Military action may degrade the terrorist’s ability to continue fighting and acting globally for instance, but it’s a no-brainer; such action is worse than useless if we don’t understand where they came from and why this is happening.

wetstonesDainin Katagiri of the Minnesota Zen Center suggests that the origin of (nuclear) weapons is rooted in human life (Returning to Silence, p.17), not external threats. What he means is that the only way to end the violence is to heal the trauma within ourselves first. At the risk of over simplifying, people who have not been traumatized generally have no need for guns and bullets. Those who have experienced deeply traumatizing events however, will believe they need guns and bullets to defend themselves, ironically, against their own shadows.

Unnecessary death is always an occasion for great sadness, but the terrorists care more for their self-enlightened reading of the Koran; their puppet god and getting to heaven than they do for the misery they spread. IPS is not taking half measures to annex territory, they aren’t taking half measures to force Sharia law on their victims, and we dare not take half measures to confront the unprecedented terror and threat they are to reason, beauty and decency.

Alternatively, we can wait until the next terrorist strike; grumble about the indecency of being awakened in the middle of a nice dream. We’ll rattle our sabers a bit, mumble something about a regional issue, roll over and go back to sleep – terrorists are counting on it.Seed1

In For A Penny © Robert Hartman Nov. 2015




Sept 20, 2015 – In The News



Japanese ProtestsAfter WW II, Article 9 of the Japanese constitution barred Japan from engaging in military action as a way of dealing with international disagreements. Despite massive protests and over 50% of Japanese opposing the measure, in a sweeping ideological makeover, both male-dominated chambers of Parliament approved legislation that washes away Article 9 and 70 years of Japanese pacifism.

The Japanese Diet is a man’s world: the upper and lower chambers are both about 90% male. Given that, there’s no surprise that these men would overrule the outcries of their constituents and neighbors and take their nation another small step closer to armed conflict.

Not that Japan will suddenly become the aggressor of old. Their military is still limited in what it can do. Even so, Chinese and Koreans have not forgotten the Japanese atrocities of WW II and are already rattling their sabers. Of course, the Japanese people deserve to feel secure, and the shaky geopolitics of the region appear to threaten that. So while no one begrudges Japan it’s security, the expansion of its military-industrial complex suggests a wider scenario.

In 2014 Japan relaxed the ban on exporting weapons that had been in place for 50 years. While the sale of Japanese arms doesn’t contribute much to the Japan’s GDP, or global conflict, yet, a stagnant economy like Japan’s will benefit by selling million dollar bullets to the world. After all, the worlds 3rd largest economy knows how to turn a profit.

Even so, it’s the same old rusty wrench we men have been bruising our knuckles on for millennia. As tensions heat up in the region, it turns out that that rusty wrench is just our old companion, fear. Unskilled, fear-based, men in China and N. Korea and elsewhere are acting out of those unconscious fears thus making an already unstable region even more unstable. But it’s futile. As Albert Einstein is famous for saying, “You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war.” Adding more guns and weapon systems to the mix CANNOT make peace in men’s hearts until men face their fears. And when that happens, arms control will be a no-brainer.




GosarSo what? Devout wacko, dentist and House Republican Paul Gosar has decided to boycott Pope Francis’s speech to Congress. Why? Because he is worried the Pope will use the opportunity to talk about climate change. Oh my gosh, is this Congress or high school? Once again, a conservative male has reminded us that the combination of religious arrogance and science denial is one definition of DANGEROUS and STUPID. I doubt the Pope will miss him.

Gosar, a Catholic himself, said that “if the Pope wants to devote his life to fighting climate change, then he can do so in his personal time. But to promote questionable science as Catholic dogma is ridiculous”. I don’t know what kind of education he received with the Jesuits, but Gosar seems to be ignorant that the Catholic Church has been peddling questionable science as Catholic dogma for most of its history. Christian men were the original science deniers, just ask Galileo or the thousands of women burned at the stake for witchcraft or midwifery.

Just when the Vatican starts to get it right, Gosar jumps in and throws a screwball at the Pope. Catholicism, according to Pope Gosar, should stick to things like abortion or the persecution of Christians by ISIS, something he forgets that Christian men did to the Muslims throughout the Middle Ages.

While he stopped short of calling Pope Francis a heretic, by putting a heretical spin to his climate change encyclical, Gosar, and those men like him, take a page from early Christian history. In those days the church fathers sanctioned power over reason, and today, Gosar wants to throw science, the EPA, and climate change on the fire. Who the hell does he think he is?

With the Pope working to quell revolt from within his church, this dentist from Arizona wants to decide what the leader of the Catholic world should say to Congress. Gosar and his shrinking band of climate change deniers will go on obstructing progress like this. If Gosar wants to dabble in Catholic dogma, then he should “do so in his personal time”.

© Robert Hartman





Ending Patriarchy?


images-4When I talk about the problems of patriarchy with other men, a rare few give me a knowing smile, but mainly, after a few polite seconds, most lose interest. His eyes kinda glaze over just before he breaks eye contact altogether. His shoulders slump forward and I wonder if he is about to say something like,“but, but, I  didn’t do anything!?” or the plaintiff cry, “what can be done?!”. We easily agree that the world has problems: poverty destroys childhood, climate change, ISIS in the middle east and genocide in Africa, pollution, and terrorism are all horrific threats, but we can’t seem to agree, or disagree for that matter, on exactly who is doing it. He often blushes when I remind him that the wizards behind ecological catastrophe, cruelty, and massive population trauma are 80% men. We could call them out worldwide and demand they stop putting their legislative hands on women’s bodies. We could demand that they stop producing radioactive waste, demand that they quit their jobs at Smith & Wesson. But most importantly, demand that men stop working out their lack of nurturing through dominance and aggression. Despite the violence that rocks cradles around the world, in a world that counts it’s warriors as saviors, it is alarmingly unpopular to claim that MEN are the problem.

Rather, we soft-shoe stage left and carry on by demonizing Republicans or Democrats, liberals and conservatives, Muslims and Christians; we make scapegoats out of people of color, women, gays. We persecute middle eastern refugees who are only trying to escape the horrors that the male led, European colonial period helped to create. It’s either too much government, or too little, but by any name, if you follow the signatures of environmental, social, and religious catastrophes as I do, you will invariably find that patriarchy writes the rules that directly and indirectly supports the acidification of our oceans, say, or the contamination of an entire food chain with pesticides, or promotes injustice like making criminals out of women who demand their inalienable right of sovereignty over their own bodies.

Once I had seen, experienced and learned enough I literally stumbled

Over what was hidden in plain view

Assad backers in Syria
Assad backers in Syria

It’s in the middle of the floor, it’s invisible, its influence is as common as air, yet to start a conversation about the consequences of patriarchy is like trying to start a campfire in the rain. To measure the effects of patriarchy over the course of world history, would, of course, be nothing less than a history of everything. Patriarchy, or Father rule, is so present, that like the air that surrounds us, we are hardly aware of that presence. Feminist, Adrienne Rich, wrote in “Of Woman Born” in 1976, that  men’s power is hard to see because “it permeates everything”. That patriarchy is always at war with someone or something virtually guarantees that he will write, and rewrite, the history of everything we can think of, right down to the Happy Meal you bought for your kids at McDonalds.Big business agriculture and the pharmaceutical industry; large and small governments alike, law enforcement and most religions tend to concentrate male attitudes and power. We must wake up to the fact that it’s men, not some great amorphous institution out there that’s dragging us towards THE SIXTH GREAT EXTINCTION: it’s pure and simply, MEN. It’s me too, and through patriarchy we think we feel safe.

Like a blizzard, the ubiquity of patriarchy is what makes it so hard to clearly make out the details. But like the blizzard, once air starts to move, it can make a helluva mess. While it is not in the heart of a blizzard to kill or to destroy, we must find the courage to be honest about what’s at the heart of patriarchy: the willingness, if not enthusiasm for aggression and domination. With rare exceptions, patriarchy already controls most everything you do. It tells you what to wear, how to act, what to eat, how to feel, what to believe, and what’s important and what isn’t.

The fear of change, of losing power has held patriarchy in a trance for 5,000 years. Despite his science, the arts and mind-boggling accomplishments, from habitat destruction to traumatized mothers and babies, men are still causing suffering on a stunning scale. His best thinking about his own advancement revolves around endless financial growth, cultural, racial and religious homogeneity and gaining the advantage, at any cost. The masculinization of reason is on the move everywhere. Like the soldiers of ISIS, or the shareholders of Monsanto, few men will ever desire less.

And where did these ideas come from? They are all the pernicious handiwork of a riptide of chronic malepage-somalia fear that grows itself in a million horrific ways. It’s a hard scrabble road from boyhood innocence to suicide bomber, so much innate wisdom, summer dreaming and hope for human kind is lost. The loss and grief induced by trauma, hunger, death, and oppression are an Everest of a tragedy and a major reason why boys and men (and the rest of creation) are in so much conflict with meaning and vision today. Not only are we men primarily responsible for climate change, massive cruelty, and stunning inequality, we’re doing it, in large part, because we suffer from a deep vulnerability rooted in the very basics of our biology.

Exploring the crossroads of man’s biologic vulnerability with the stressful demands that patriarchy places on him, I found that across his lifespan, living up to patriarchy’s expectations is harmful. He does not handle stress as well as females and can be seriously harmed by it during pregnancy, the critical first year, and long after. Ironically, men are the truest and most numerous victims of their own fearful patriarchal scheme.

And so philosophical and physical infrastructures were built on those fears. The Christian bible and the counsel at Nicaea in the 4th century AD, gave men permission to get hooked into the illusion of dominance over all creation and the retreat from humility began. Epic male brutality, gender inequality and global mismanagement followed, all under the banner of someone’s patriarchal god. These conditions persisted, multiplied and festered for millennia.

The 21st century is a reflection of those unresolved issues. It’s so tragic, we men have critically important roles to play, but thanks to arrogantly miscasting ourselves as dominators and absolute leaders so long ago, we got civilization off to a bad start, and the future does not look good either. If the loss of biodiversity crosses a cmanwithchild.jpgertain threshold, we will have terraformed our own planet to death. If we survive, I tremble to think of the prejudice and arrogance we will take with us to the stars.

Enough! Although the way forward is not crystal clear, the solution is deeply rooted in the very things that men have been blindly destroying for millennia. We don’t need a list, we know what they are. The greatest hope we have is not in new technology, but in a change of heart.

ENDing PATRIARCHY is devoted to going deep into the problem of patriarchy and of finding alternative ways of thinking about it.

My god, they’ve even changed summer!

Ending Patriarchy? © Robert Hartman 2015


The Unprotected

I started life as a boy. Most of my guy friends did too. And like any kid, from the Arctic to the South Pole, we were wholly immersed, even baptized into a white hot universe where, physicists will confirm, literally anything can happen.

So, one summer day, on the first day of swimming lessons at the “Y”, as they herded about twenty of us eight or nine years old boys, all ribs and shoulder-blades, towards the deep end of the pool, a little voice told me this wasn’t going to turn out well. So we’re all standing there, trying not to pick our noses, feeling smaller than ants and trying hard not to scurry, but the swim instructors are looking for a target. Out of about 2 dozen frightened gazelles, they are looking for the loner, the outcast to make an example of. After an invitation to get wet garnered no response, to my horror, a pair of male swim instructors, merchant seamen if you ask me, grabbed the nearest kid, Michael, a shy and pensive boy, and tossed him like a sack of rocks into what he must have thought would be his personal inferno, to toughen him up, no doubt, and to scare the hell out of the rest of us.

Wow, I thought, it’s true: anything can happen. The panic was so decisive that within 2 seconds there wasn’t a dry gazelle anywhere. In my scramble to avoid humiliation, I dove into the deep end, not the last time I would do that, and did my best to look like I was drowning.

Underneath the drama, though, I was surprised at how the warm water supported me without intension or strength. Any tumbled 8 year old heart would jump for joy at the possibility of power without force. … that in the white hot furnace of the universe, we have everything we need; the universe has never been about power; it has always been about provision.


 The Unprotected

A lot of men blame women for their powerlessness and vulnerability. To listen to these apologists for men acting badly you’d think it was women who do the lion share of the industrial polluting, raping, and killing around here. Even if the 90’s icon, Warren Farrell, 72, (The Myth of Male Power) was the darling of the men’s rights movement in the nineties, he still struggles with feelings of powerlessness today. In an interview with Mother Jones Magazine (MJ, 1/15, p.23) Farrell cast men as the underdogs in the war for dominance, when he suggests that women have an unfair advantage.

“It has not been effectively communicated how powerless men feel around the beautiful women’s body”.

As if women should quit having “beautiful bodies” to convenience his inability to relate to women properly. It’s scary to think that such a pathetic admission forms the essential dogma not only of rapists, but of many men’s right’s groups as well (Not All!). More importantly, Farrell speaks only to the superficial means, aggression and dominance, that men everywhere have employed for millennia to keep them in power, failing altogether to fathom the deeper origins of men’s thirst for power.

In The Myth of Male Power, Farrell counts on a blizzard of “right-brained” statistics to justify his contention that men have very little power relative to women. His observation that male power is a myth is right on, but not for the reasons he gives us. I wrote about the natural vulnerability of male fetuses and boys in several essays: A Day Late and a Dollar Short, Hormones, Violence, and Culture, and Why Women Rule, among others. In brief, my research points to an egg and chicken problem: untoward stressors along the male developmental pathway, from conception to puberty and beyond, produces males that are subtly, and obviously less fit with respect to their neurobiology and psychology. Completing the vicious cycle, extreme social pressure brought to bear on young boys produces men  more likely to be violent, die young, be emotionally brittle, and abuse others. Tragically, from the point of view of historical trauma, shaming and abuse have the power to produce men (and women) who transmit more shame and abuse to their children, and over vast swaths of history.

This contradicts Farrell’s earlier contention that power is having control over one’s life. Clearly, no one has much control over the big events and fundamental circumstances of their lives. But Farrell organizes much of his discussion of male power, or the lack of it, around questions that all men are interested in: sex and money. He complains that women have the power to define love (pg. 43), but they also have the power to turn men into sexual and financial slaves (pg. 36). Women, he says, have sexual power over men because she can cry “rape” whenever she likes (pg. 319). He commiserates over her claim that she can be in legitimate conflict over a decision to be intimate (yes) and then change her mind at the last minute (no). Even worse, he laments her power to reject him altogether (pg. 320).

Farrell’s statistics could lead one believe that women should feel lucky because men kill each other more often than they kill women (pg. 214). He goes on to complain that the wheels of divorce justice crush men because the “ex” and the kids usually get the house after a divorce, while the man gets a mortgage and child support payments. (I don’t think Farrell takes into consideration that most of these laws were authored by men pg. 59). In what must be some kind of ultimate expression of cluelessness, Farrell says it is a man’s job to be a women’s bodyguard. He shakes his head the following morning, grousing about the expense, like dinner and the gas he used to pick her up… (pg. 230) and he didn’t even get laid… This is where I had to take a break reading. Holy cow!

Farrell and many men’s rights groups have failed to set out on their own inner explorations. They have failed to ask the question they are so good at asking about their broken down cars – Why isn’t this working? – What’s really going on here? – Are women really responsible for my feelings of powerlessness? It’s pretty clear that those who feel powerless have the greatest need for power, and The Myth of Male Power is a good illustration of this struggle. It was a best seller in 1993, yet as I read it I realized that Farrell was just making excuses, taking refuge in that childhood redoubt, “but mommy, she did it too!” e.g. citing female world leaders who have killed just as many men as male leaders have. Maybe it’s true, but it’s illogical to equate female world leaders with the rest of womankind. Frankly, it tells us more about men’s hysterical need for power than about any topsy-turvy justice.

Men are in conflict, that’s for sure. Even if a man can’t acknowledge it, or come to terms with it, he is usually convinced that women are the keys to his inner struggles, if they would only behave. It may look like a power play, but men are desperate. They want to be heard, to be cared for unconditionally, as we all do. They did not receive unconditional love as boys because our warrior-crazed culture was too busy toughening them up. Yet, women are also the focus of men’s rights groups which aggressively promote an anti-feminist, misogynistic agenda. Many of these groups regard Farrell’s work on gender and power as seminal. Consider the Men’s Rights Movement (MRM), A Voice for Men, Red Pill, Pick Up Artists, Anti-Slut Defense, to name just a few.

Men have a need for all kinds of (conventional) power because they think they have so little: gender and race power, social and financial power, horse power, brain power, and fire power, to say nothing of muscular power and job power. Women need power too. But when a woman isn’t psychologically or physically engaged with a male-oppressive-gender-state, she often moves beyond her oppression-adopted shadow and becomes the greatest threat to male supremacy that men can imagine: a woman in touch with her own power.

Like men, women are a diverse group with different talents and abilities. They wield enormous power as teachers and leaders, artists and doctors, engineers and mentors. Whatever their path through life, the ability to create life is shared by all women; whether they choose to have children or not. Fundamentally, a woman’s power is coupled with an implicit, but tangible, contract with the Earth.

Throughout the Paleolithic periods (2.6 mya-10,000 BCE), when hominid populations were quite small, a woman’s reproductive capacity and Earth’s abundance were both likely revered (as we see in the enormous numbers of ancient Venus statues). However, with domestication of crops in the Neolithic period (10,000-2500 BCE), the population exploded. Her role as giver of life (and leader) came to be less revered, because it less relevant. And so together, the status of the woman and the Earth’s were diminished.

Even so, to borrow a phrase from Karl Marx: because women literally create future consumers, women ultimately control the means of production, even today. Should the population decrease, consumption will fall, and so will the dangerous notion that economic growth can be sustained indefinitely. Women have always had the power to create life, and men have had a problem with it for the last several millennia. The battle over reproductive rights goes on because a warrior culture works to suppress, reframe, if not erase, the feminine influence.

Many thousands of years after the Venus statues made their debut, Christianity formed itself around a wad of men greedy for the kind of power-over that Farrell still hankers for today. I suspect that these early church leaders were jealous and even fearful of women’s mysterious powers of life; we can see this in the violent backlash against women during the Inquisition, and the publication of works like the Malleus Maleficarum (Hammer of Witches). More importantly though, because women renewed society with new members, they would naturally wield considerable power in shaping what society would find valuable. But the church fathers cut that possibility short by coupling a woman’s power with sin. After thousands of years of character assassination, the s0-called inferiority of women (and superiority of men) entered the cultural lexicon. From the mother of the human race to whore, the patriarchal church went a long way towards crushing the divine feminine, one of humankind’s most important resources.

Oppressing and crushing women, and men who are like her, requires special skills. In fact, the problem requires an entire, incredibly invasive organization called patriarchy to keep her quiet. The common man-tools of patriarchal oppression are those taken from the cultural scripts of stoicism, homophobia, aggression, and misogyny. Together, they work to deny the Earth and humankind the very diversity and freedoms we all need to be fully alive. Despite the out-of-step and cruel nature of such qualities, despite the endless wars that men wage, and despite the enormous numbers of young men and unknown potential we push into the hole, cultures still think they need to define men by how well they quietly suffer, or take abuse.

Thankfully, there is a tremendous gray scale variation in how any man might display so-called masculine qualities, giving us an enormously diverse population of men. Who says diversity is bad? I, for instance, might rank (if max score is 20) an unadmirable “3” on the stoic scale, a “0” on homophobia, I’d give myself a “2” for aggression, and a “0” on misogyny. The more extreme a man is on my hypothetical (and unscientific) scale; the higher the score, the more brittle, or less fit he is. And not a surprise, the less protected he is likely to have been as a boy. The point is, the idea of an emotionally healthy racist or queer hater is nonsense.

What does it mean to be “less fit”? It is not a condemnation, misandry, or a statement about an individual’s value. It does suggest, though, that men are generally not a good fit for the roles we have given them. Even so, no one’s personality or character is defined by four qualities alone (stoicism, homophobia, aggression and misogyny). Our lives and how we came to be are far too complex and wondrous for that, but in my early struggles to define what “a man” meant to me, I found a reliable calculus: that masculine strategies, resulting from stress are organized around fear and the ability to control fear in others. We can find evidence for this everywhere: from ordinary advertising and media, to parenting practices, propaganda, torture, and war.

Through a bad burn when I was four, betrayal, suicide, cruelty, and most-damaging, father neglect, I learned that others (mostly men) are unreliable and even dangerous. To depend on them too much was risking chaos and disappointment, maybe even death. I don’t think this is an uncommon epiphany among unprotected boys and men. Being unprotected forms a deep emptiness inside us. Sometimes referred to as a Narcissistic wound, it creates the isolating sense that no one can take care of me better than me. It speaks to an over-reliance on self that produces the rugged individualist, the-pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps kinda guy. Once pensive, sensitive boys who weren’t allowed to show emotion, or express their uniqueness now rage at, or hide from the system they think has locked them out. Billions of boys who could never get the boots on without pinching, let alone find the straps, learned the lessons everyday. Don’t talk about your feelings (a condition known as alexithymia), and protect trust; trust is too precious a thing to gamble with. As men, we buried trust, altruism, compassion, and justice like the treasures they are, and instead sought high risk, frequently cruel behaviors, killing each other by the hundreds everyday. Who would be surprised that boys who were forced to walk through abuse and neglect alone will, as men, come to regard power and control as the way home.

From the point of view of the human condition, attempting to be in control is based on fear and suspicion, and almost always involves trying to control others too. It’s an untrusting and unpredictable hand that operates from a position of subjective powerlessness. A subjective sense of powerlessness is almost always rooted within early trust breaking that created an intolerable vulnerability, leaving the child powerless to protect himself. For instance, a boy who is brave enough to confide to his mother that his father is molesting him is too often, like girls, enjoined to be quiet about it, or worse, called a sissy and a liar. Like his powerless mother, (because a woman who feels her power would not betray her child) he is made subjectively powerless by his mother by preventing him from protecting himself. When a child has been abused, neglected, or disrespected it’s understandable that some will come to believe that HE is the only one who can safely take care of himself. Indeed, over reliance on self is often seen in the adult who was not protected from abuse or toxic stress as a boy. And often, they in turn, come to abuse themselves or others. For Steven Wineman (Power-Under; Trauma and Non-violent Social Change 2003)…

the phenomena of subjective powerlessness accounts for our awareness of being victimized or harmed, but also of the brutal, and generally unconscious ways men strike back, or rage against those he perceive to be the harmers or oppressors.

In brief, the more subjectively powerless a man perceives himself to be, the more dangerous he is.

Ironically, being in possession of the power to control is no guarantee of being powerful. Besides, the idea of controlling is a dubious proposition at best. It promotes an inelegant, non-collaborative, Ptolemaic (earth-centered) view of the universe, entirely out of step with Earth’s master intention to foster life. Any recovering addict will tell you that control is an illusion; it does not imply mastery.

More important than mastery is the sense of ease that emerges naturally from boys who were given the extra care they require. There are still many who caution against “molly-coddling” boys; but the benefits of avoiding boyhood toughening and shaming altogether, and of meeting his fundamental needs instead, will manifest positively on a global level. We can predict how unconditional love and protection, starting with being wanted at conception, versus conditional love and neglect will impact the boy. Furthermore, we can visualize the trajectory those conceptions and lives might take.

I personally believe that the universe I know of began with the primeval explosion called the “Big Bang”. I can imagine the unfolding, over time, of galaxies, planets, and sometimes life.


We can scarcely imagine any explosion more primeval and terrible than the Big Bang, yet, when the universe came into being, possibility also came into being; the possibility of galaxies, of planets, and trees and daffodils evolving; the probability of love and red wing blackbirds evolving; of life exploding into a reality that is implicitly linked with diversity. Babies too are bundles of probabilities and the Big Bang of their births are felt deeply by many on Earth. When a child is unwanted or unprotected, especially a boy child, his potential, or the probability that he will be allowed to develop optimally, will be less.

img 2

In closing, while writing The Unprotected, the screaming, spoken lyrics of a Jim Morrison song, Horse Latitudes, kept coming up for me. My experience of such desperate poetry seems, metaphorically, parallel with the experiences of billions of boys. While I doubt Warren Farrell, and his supporters, would describe it as such, perhaps we might all agree that men are in trouble, men are at an enormous disadvantage. Like Morrison’s horses, abandoned to an endless expanse of seething ocean, the fate of too many of our boys are sealed by an incomprehensible monster, practically oceanic in its reach, a monster called patriarchy.

The UnProtected © Robert Hartman 2015

Horse Latitudes

When the still sea conspires in armor

And her sullen and aborted currents breed tiny monsters.

True sailing is dead.

An awkward instant and the first animal is jettisoned.
Legs furiously pumping,
Their stiff green gallop,
And heads bob up…
In mute nostril agony
Carefully refined and
Sealed over.

Horse Latitudes © Jim Morrison, 1967, Strange Days album.

Trust And The Four Guarantees

PageLines- Kokopelli.jpegFundamental Goodness
means that from conception to death we possess everything we need to belong to the Earth. We have a cardio-pulmonary system that exchanges gas and pushes nourishment-rich blood into every oxygen hungry niche of our bodies. A digestive tract that transforms nutrients into information the body uses to power itself. The healing and restorative powers of our immune systems, enabling us to mend bones, kick the flu, and even recover from a catastrophic illness, or a broken heart. In fact, we could recount the contributions of all 11 bodily systems, each deeply devoted to safeguarding our wellbeing, and still find that the basic ingredients of life, common to all life, are the only basic factors necessary for a good life. Trusting in them is a good thing.

These are the basic facts of the matter, and they suggest that goodness and trust are not only implicit to life, they are unavoidable. We are endowed with the ability to sense not only danger, but to feel joy and a warm spring morning too. We use our senses to interact with a world that is plush with sensory opportunity. We are invited by hunger to taste and smell food. We can see purple, make love, and relish pistachio ice cream. No matter what your situation, if you are alive, you belong here. At the risk of repetition, these are the only credentials you need to be a member in good standing in the club of life. The world is a vibrant, sensual place, and since all life, even one-celled organisms are equipped, and therefore intended, to “sense” the world, and use that information in one fashion or another, it is only sensible that, like an amoeba, a fox or an earthworm, we should trust our senses too. Even so, trust in our innate wisdoms is a serious problem.

Life’s affirmations and refutations change the pre-fertilized ova, fetus and child far beyond that being’s life. Such positive and negative affirmations carry inherent goodness, like nutrition or a happy mom; or inherent pathology, like sexual abuse or addiction. Either way, they are explicit, after the fact, elements that have dramatic impact on dramatically affect the child, the adult and the world. We don’t have the right, or the authority, to interfere in a sacred being’s pursuit of happiness. Yet we’re tough cookies: violence and poverty, neglect and shame have no effect on basic goodness. No matter who you are, where you live; no matter how much money you have; whether you drive a Lotus or a skateboard, if you have a home, or not, even if you call that first finger of whiskey, breakfast, you’re in the right place.

Yet cultural and socialization practices mandate that every child wears a set of beliefs that are ill-suited for real human life. Like being forced to wear shoes that are too small, ill-fitting shoes misinform feet about their purpose, and one way or the other, inhuman beliefs about ourselves misinform the fetus and child about their value and goodness. In a cultural context, the nature of goodness can be quite variable; but almost universally, as children, we are forced to consider goodness through the lenses of skin color, age, sexual preferences, ethnicity, language, beliefs, or gender. Because belonging and social inclusion are so central to the human experience, we come to manage the inconsistent, and seemingly arbitrary teachings, by over-riding our basic wisdom-knowing; I don’t claim that basic wisdom-knowing knows anything about God or how clocks tick, it only knows what is essential to a good life. Even if the fundamental goodness of life is the overwhelming proof of equality, we are indoctrinated to over throw our sensory experiences to make room for the corrupt maneuvers that others employ to re-language the meaning of goodness in their dialect of profane trivialities; to satisfy their own lust for power-over – to end their own torments.

We can gain power over others through information, whether through manufactured propaganda or verifiable facts. Trusting the information we receive from our senses is absolutely crucial to the well-being of any organism. If early man could not trust the foretelling of spring by simply noticing that the days were growing longer, thousands would have starved, digging through the dead stubble of last year’s crop, because they failed to see, in the readiness of seasons, that it was time to sow. While I mean no disrespect to the religious beliefs of others, that a whopping 46% of modern Americans believe in Creationism reveals the failure of parents (and our education system) to teach children the crucial difference between story and science. To the robust mind, story and science are not incompatible because they both weave mixtures of mystery and wisdom. They are both sacred, but in different ways. To the mind made narrow by fear, both mystery and wisdom are absent because black and white thinking cannot abide ambiguity; it must be certain of one fact or the other.

These same minds fail to protect their children’s minds from their own rigid dogmatism. It aborts the child’s natural curiosity and questioning mind when it is given fetid information. Without these twin midwives of development, a child’s emerging spirit is truly endangered. Their minds, like un-yeasted bread, can never hope to rise to their potential. Among fundamentalists of most religions, the negation of life is brought to us through the denial of the senses, shame of the body, and the degradation of women. The foundations for these beliefs are easy to find in the Bible and gospels. For example, “Our flesh is the occasion of our sin”, James 1:14, “Our flesh is just dirt”, Gen. 2:7, “Make Mary leave us, for females don’t deserve life”, Gospel of Thomas, Peter Simon.

alley oopBut wait, the assaults on the goodness of sensory experiences are only just beginning. What creationists are trying to do is to generate an atmosphere of plausible deniability of evolution by calling out the visual evidence and sensory experience of its followers. Their contention that dinosaurs and men coexisted, for example, even though the fossil record and carbon dating clearly demonstrate that dinosaurs first appeared during the Mesozoic era (Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods), 230 million years ago, and died out 60 million years before the appearance of the earliest hominid; in effect, the Creationists are saying that 1+1 = 3.

Most of us know it is abusive to enforce a harsh religious or cultural ideology and discipline on a child, and in the same way, when an adult in a position of trust violates a child’s wisdom-knowing by proposing insensibility, it not only breaks trust (and steals his spirit), it emotionally, and intellectually abuses him. Mind boggling and astounding don’t even begin to address the mysteries of 14 billion years of creation, say, yet, according to church fathers, god cooked it up quicker than snot in seven days. Yanking Eve out of Adams’s rib is a pretty cool trick too, but we already know what this patriarchal arrangement did to women and other vulnerable peoples. It is a serious blow to human intelligence and progress when religious leaders, ancient and contemporary alike, kick the hell out of the awe, the beauty, and the elegance of the creation that DID happen.

Of course, for early men, the universe was more unfathomable than a god, so they created myths to fill in the knowledge vacuum. Such myths however, perpetuate more myths, each one more male-centered than the last; like the myth of man’s inherent separation from the cosmos that gave him dominion over all the creatures of the earth, including women; or the modern day myth of “plausible deniability” with respect to climate change; that little ole’ humans couldn’t possible affect the creation of the all mighty. If we are senseless beings first, and creations of nature second it is easier to deny that we have damaged the climate beyond our ability to control it. It seems that our problems with goodness and trust are not just about Father-religion, but about the male ethos that drives daily life and ritual.

The ability to place some part of our wellbeing in the hands of others is a fundamental principle of human interaction. But we also know that anyone from an abusive or otherwise dysfunctional background can experience a painful and difficult time with trust. It hits the proverbial nail on the head to say that such difficulties arise from broken trust. Abuse is bad for everyone, but boys and men take such betrayals especially hard. When abuse leaves him battered and bruised, crushed from the inside out, faithless and walking alone, he plunges his innocence and precious trust deep into the core of his being where it will be safe. Old and new betrayals drive men into varying shades of brittleness. Stoicism, homophobia, aggression, and misogyny are inflexible lifestyle choices, yet standard issue for many men.

My personal struggles with trust were manifest in my relationships and a nagging sense of disconnection from my fellows and coworkers. That old saw, “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court”, fit especially well. They brought up a rank fear that one doesn’t debate: I had to distance myself from the possibility of revictimization.

If there is less fear and confusion today, I owe it to many years of deep, personal work. The grinding differences between heart’s wisdom and my voice gradually synchronized, albeit not always in the same tongue. Even if there is less fear, the idea of trusting without reservation is harrowing. There was many a dark night, feeling my way by heart through the maze of betrayals and pain. I found it comforting to remember that whether these explorations gave up pain, longing or insight, the exploration itself, the Magellan of it, has wz-windhorse1been simply exquisite. It is a good journey.

Despite the threat that unconditional trust seems to pose, our universe is simply teeming with examples. They extend throughout the sentient realm and even beyond our conscious experience. The simple trust between mother and child is obvious, but at its most basic level, unconditional trust can be discovered in the simplest relationship there is; even before mother and child, I believe the relationship between life and the Earth was between beloveds. The Earth would not create a seed she could not potentially nourish. Trusting in her ability to care for us is implicit in the womb and beyond. It is not only in her seminal role as the giver of life, but, as I have pointed out, in our significant relationships too. When the assumption of earth-care or mother-love is corrupted, by say, pollution or abuse, the child’s earth-bound compass (earth-centered wisdom) goes wild in the search for meaning. Most attachment disorders and other signatures of human misery begin with the breaking of trust, and when trust is a flayed piece of heartflesh, in the silent aftermath, the child buries his precious trust somewhere dark, and safe from harm. To be retrieved, perhaps, another day.

The open hand of compassion is a good situation; it emboldens us to reach out and make a difference. When trust itself builds more trust, it flowers on a cool fall day. Even if our shadows are still hanging about, it is still a good situation. So the ability to trust is basic, and it should be said, trusting is the natural state of women, children and men. Trust is a yellow daffodil. It doesn’t mean to trust blindly. This is not la la trust. It is a hard won fight between sensibility and blind belief, where sensibility wins. It follows that the best and noblest qualities Seed2of men and women will find expression when childhood trust is modeled after honesty and respect. When such a state of grace exists, childhood trust is almost magically transformed through a trust-through-trusting-lullaby capable of manifesting as deep caring and fearlessness. With Trust as an intention, the guarantees of altruism, justice, and compassion are a brand new pair of roller-skates which humankind can ride into the future. Life expects no less from the white spark of its being; and the Earth, too, is no less a worthy target for selfless acts.

Selflessness is not a benefit of education or of being rich. Self sacrifice, however it might look, is beyond ego, beyond sunlight. It is the transmigration of the ego that makes fundamental goodness so terribly true. THIS self, with a capital “S”, has come to shed the male-perpetrated trauma of power-over and alleged shame of its life, and is now separate from it. Discovering the origin of authentic independence and freedom in trust and basic goodness, we might really take responsibility for cheering our world up.

the sudden light
 the canyon 


Trust and the Four Guarantees © Robert Hartman 2015




Of Lies and Wisdom

I was destined to become an alcoholic and drug addict by the time I was four years old. That was when my father walked away from a fire and I sustained 3rd degree burns to my entire left leg, was hospitalized for 6 weeks, and received 2 skin grafting operations. It was only my first lesson in how dangerous trust, when violated, could be, and when I first began to separate myself from everyone else. Between the pain, fear and the isolation I was never asked to talks about, I felt a heavy cloth descend over me, and from a place of 4 year old innocence, it was a radical departure indeed.

Not only did I feel utterly disconnected from the important people in my early life, I gradually worked out that I held very different views from that of my fellows about the inner turnings of life. Everything I heard about God’s omniscience, from creating the earth in 7 days, to Adam and Even’s exile from paradise for seeking knowledge, deeply violated my sense of order. I wanted to know how life worked. I did not want a collection of life-denying stories that started on a low note with God cursing his own creation. By the time I was 9 or 10 I already knew life was much more than that. Yet, because my parents were satisfied with convenient half-explanations, I received no kindly advice from caregivers, teachers or the Presbyterian Church, for that matter. The confusion between God’s laws and the laws of the universe (and after Kennedy’s assassination, became political) grew into an airless abyss; a maw large enough to swallow a 12 year old boy whole. God was a dark proposition, in sharp contrast to my view that life is open, begging for discovery, if only we ask the right questions. Yet, even today, pseudo-science spews from the bible onto the floor of Congress. Being different from our peers is especially hard on boys; the threat of ex-communication from family and friends is too great for most to bear. Like everyone else, I was forced to forget the true nature of life.

This wasn’t a new problem. 700 years ago, people were expected to believe, hysterically, in witchcraft, say, despite the lack of sensible evidence for it. Like many of us today, they were forced to abandon their senses and go along with the “common view” under threat of torture and death, or in the case of millions of small boys, radicalization out of shame, exile and social annihilation. Then, as now, many, including the Earth, are tortured by patriarchy’s lust for control.

At first, I knuckled under the pressure to be like everyone else, because I had to; but deep inside, the war over who I was, and what I believed, was raging. I didn’t know it at the time, but the pressure to conform drove me to unconsciously sever links with logic, my body’s sensory wisdom, and the earth. In fact, I no longer believed my eyes, and I think it drove me more than just a little crazy.

I was angry at the lies adults told just to get me to behave and stop asking questions. I was angry with their cavalier attitude towards my still-fragile ability to trust, and outright lie, just to make themselves feel more comfortable and safe. This was an intolerable situation for the natural child within, who innately knew his truth, but who was driven out of his own wisdom and body; driven out of his mind by shame and the fear of rejection, a life pattern I would repeat over and over.

To the degree that we fail to conform with the common view of family, god and country, is just how “sick” or poorly adapted society will judge us. Conversely, to the extent that we conform to the common view and surrender, suppress and forget our innate, natural wisdoms, is how “well-adapted” society will think we are, and to what degree such radical conformity has woven us into the social fabric.

In other words, there is a huge social premium paid to anyone who chooses to abandon their senses, and go out of their minds. Because I believe that rebellion is fundamentally healthy, searching for truth, and being receptive to what we find there, is a kind of celebration of life. Conversely, radical conformity, what I have come to regard as true cowardice, is a loss of self and body wisdom, and the seed syllable of dis-ease and illness.

Either way, both are no-win situations. They both constitute double binds: can’t leave, can’t stay. Chronic exposure to such a schism eventually results in the realm of most mental and physical illnesses. I did not know how burned-out I was over being torn between the two. And then one day I gave up, I crossed the line, and got myself numb to the schism and separation via drugs and alcohol. Don’t misunderstand: I was a drunk and take continuous responsibility for my behavior and how I came to be an addict, but those are only the facts. The pernicious system of conformity, distrust and confusion I grew up with may be difficult to measure, but if it takes a village to raise a child, then a broken village can destroy an entire generation of children.

I traveled a long and destructive path. In my forties, and sober for the first time in 20 years, my sponsor and most people in AA talked about the gifts of sobriety. In my experience, now with 22 years of sobriety behind me, the gifts began to collect, subtly at first, like stage lights coming up. Of wooden floors and revelations; actors and old dialogue once again appearing out of the shadows. Despite 20 years of an alcoholic lullaby, nothing ever went away. When I woke up the same confusions and doubts were still there, right where I left them two decades before. Only now, as never before, I could see them clearly as the rites of passage they were, and beneath it all, faintly, the song of my own truth began to run with the wind.


Of Lies and Wisdom © Robert Hartman Oct, 2014