Eldership as I define it here, is a stage in a man’s life where he has become wise enough – through facing life’s challenges – to be able to contribute that wisdom for the benefit of society.
However, today we see a lack of eldership. Those who are old enough, often aren’t wise or are discarded by a society that favours youth and fears death – the aged being a reminder of our own mortality. Our society’s wisdom – what remains of it – can be found withering away, forgotten in the quietest and most ignored corner of our society – the retirement home.
With the lack of many true elders – a blight which we have been suffering as a society for several generations now – the young are not giving proper guidance to grow into the independent and contributing citizens of generations past. They remain young at mind and heart, eternally narcissistic and focused solely on short-term, narrow-minded goals, such as earning a few more quid, getting laid and having fun with the lads – a stage we should all go through but as maturity dictates, we must also leave it.
This is a problem, because without the wisdom of elders, societies are doomed to repeat past mistakes. Government officials, business leaders and religious administrators become controlled by little boys in adult suits, who have a weak moral compass and self-interest as their only motivation.
But there’s hope, because every single individual can choose to craft themselves into these elders. This needs to be more of a conscious effort these days. There are no longer wars or famines on our doorsteps, teaching about life and helping us grow up. But arguably the greatest challenge people face is still very much available to us. That is dealing with everyday circumstances, well.
I am telling you all of this as you have the opportunity to become such a person and the world definitely needs you to.
Not only for reaching the point where you can provide your wisdom for the betterment of society, but the process of accruing that wisdom will require you to be in life in a way that is both utterly confronting and at the same time deeply fulfilling.
Being that man NOW, will see you contribute to curtailing some of the more dangerous social and ecological trends we seem to be on right now.
To name a few
Ecologically, we are doing untold damage to the soil microbiology and mycorrhizal networks that keep ecosystems in balance through excessive chemical/mechanised/reductionist agricultural and mining practices, leading to a loss of bio-diversity. Greed and short/narrow-sighted drive for increased efficiency will be our undoing. Yet – to throw a spanner in the works – the solution is not necessarily to eliminate meat from the diet and cancel fossil fuels. This is more of the same arrogance – humans thinking they know more than they do. Nature is far more complex than we can wrap our small ape minds around – even with the help of AI. So we must learn to pay attention to nature more and work with it, not continue trying to control it. These are insights that come with wisdom.
Socially, we are seeing greater polarisation in society leading to the magnification of phenomena such as identity politics. Groups – once formed – then must it seems find something or someone to oppose. It’s interesting that the types that go down this route proclaim their compassion for others, yet demonise everyone who thinks unlike them – which should be everyone! One particularly troubling set of ideas comes from Critical Race Theory, which is telling young people that being White means you are inherently racist and arrogant among other delightful descriptions. Can you think of anything more racist than this? All of this as men are asked to hush their “mansplaining” and rein in their “man-spreading” so – instead – women can act in a more masculine way…
If only there were a few more elders around to tell all of us silly boys and girls that we need to shut up and listen a bit more, then maybe we’d learn something…
Our society is becoming increasingly infantilised
But nonetheless, I meet men everyday who seek to improve themselves. That gives me hope that a better future is possible. But we need more of you doing so.
My work as a coach and mentor is to show you how. I’m blessed to be able to do work that I believe in – being in control of my own time and deciding how I live. But it hasn’t been easy reaching this point.
With a lack of good male role modeling, I’ve had to cobble together guidance over the years from books, chance encounters, trying and failing many times, succeeding a few times, commitment to disciplined practices such as martial arts and near-obsessive reflection on all of this for the duration.
What has come from all of that is a sense of direction for myself and society. A map that helps us lift our eyes to the horizon whilst keeping our feet on the group, and taking it one step at a time. A map that helps us to recognise when we are being driven by emotion at the expense of reason.
This map is what I primarily use to help my clients to become more effective, inspired, with better relationships, achieving greater levels of confidence, getting promoted and building businesses. I am turning myself into an elder that is sorely needed in the world and I invite you to do the same.
I invite you to become a better Father, Son and Compatriot, standing for what is Right and Good in your own life, setting an example for all of those around you.
Because it’s the acts of ordinary people in ordinary matters, that matter most. Many of the stories of great men that inspired me the most were not of great Generals or Scientists, but of the humble war hero who was able to remain calm in front of his Grandchildren whilst having a stroke, or the Patriarch who roused his entire family into song around his hospital deathbed.
These men seem almost mythical to me in today’s society. As I see all around me, absent Fathers, addicts and thoughtless conformists.
But we can do better.
By learning from the elders we can rely on – the ancient philosophers and testing their ideas for ourselves. Philosophy in action leads to Purpose In Action!
But I’ll say more on this another time.