“The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively.” – Bob Marley
After writing about International Men’s Day (IMD) last year, I didn't need to do so this year; however, during a lively discussion in one of my sociology classes, one of the female students asked me to provide her with the definition of a man. After reciting the textbook definition, a couple of thoughts crossed my mind. First, I have never been a fan of defining any human being, since we are constantly evolving. Secondly, this question ignited an idea within my teachings on gender problems to create a special class unit solely devoted to the celebration of men’s and boys' roles in contemporary society. This semester, all of my almost 100 students (and their relatives and social networks) will learn about not only International Men’s Day, but also about the importance of men and boys in our global society.
In 2015, the theme is: “Make a difference for men and boys.” The objectives of International Men's Day include a focus on men's and boy's health, improving gender relations, promoting gender equality, and highlighting positive male role models. It is an occasion for men to celebrate their achievements and contributions, in particular their contributions to community, family, marriage, and childcare. International Men's Day is celebrated in over 60 countries of the world.
According to Men’s Activism News Network, International Men's Day also interfaces with 'Movember' - a worldwide moustache growing charity event, held during November each year. For 30 days each November, men grow their moustaches to raise funds and awareness for men's health— one of the key themes promoted on IMD. Since 2003, millions have participated in Movember, raising $650 million to fund over 1,000 programs focusing on prostate cancer, testicular cancer, poor mental health and physical inactivity. This is important because gender is one of the most consistent predictors of health and life expectancy for adults. On average, across the world, men die 6 years earlier than women. In particular, poor mental health affects men more than women: three quarters of suicides are by men. The World Health Organization estimates that 510,000 men die from suicide globally each year; that’s about one every minute.
This year, I would like to dedicate my blog to men who inspired me, and showed me how to be proud of being a man. I will only focus on a few, but there were many others who became my role models and mentors. It was my late dad who took me by hand and walked with me to the first day of school, and waited outside until the end of the school day. It is my son, Jacob, who is 24/7 “Semper Paratus” for search and rescue for those who are in distress at sea. I greatly miss my prematurely lost brother and sons. I was very fortunate to have as a mentor late Maciej Biega, one of the best sports reporters who ever walked on planet Earth. It is my dear friend Tim, who is for me like a rock. He is not only a great husband to his wife Paula, but also a devoted dad to his three wonderful kids. When I talk to him in my low times, the world seems like a great place to live. Every man needs a pep talk from time to time from his own, and there are many who can uplift us in the moments of doubt. As they say in the proverb: “Any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a Dad.”
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