Are good men really so hard to find?
The Good Men Project, comprised of a book, documentary, and website, begins to heal a gaping wound in the fabric of society.
The concept was to create "a platform where men can tell their stories: stories men can relate to, and examples of what they can follow," according to Good Men Project cofounder, Tom Matlack. He notes that, "we don't have the answer," but that his project is intended to promote the discussion.
"This all started with the idea that men of our generation have stories to tell," notes cofounder James Houghton. "And what is striking about the stories in the book--from the one about the former drug lord--turned--prison-reformer, to the soldier home from Iraq and facing the death of his young daughter, to the guy who has to face the reality of his son's autism--is not just the breadth of experience and shared humanity that is expressed, but also the desire for so many men to talk, given our cultural bias to put on the good face and hold it all together."
Co-editors Tom Matlack, Larry Bean, James Houghton.
Most men today learned their lessons from fathers who also struggled with what a man's role entails. And like their fathers, many are well-intentioned fellows who are a little unsure about their roles and are mining the complexities of life for a bigger chunk of happiness.
The book, The Good Men Project: Real Stories from the Front Lines of Modern Manhood, was launched concurrently on Nov 15 with the DVD of the same title, directed and produced by Pulitzer Prize--nominated filmmaker Matt Gannon.
The book is an anthology of thirty-one first person essays in the earnest voices of all kinds of "good men and true": rich, poor, black, white, gay, straight, rural and urban, including a stay-at-home father, an NFL Hall of Famer, and a Pulitzer Prize--nominated journalist.
When Matlack and Houghton went looking for a few good men to contribute to the book, to their surprise, they uncovered a gold mine. An abundance of men offered stories about the challenges, obstacles, triumphs, failures, and defining moments they've encountered. Collectively, these experiences help to define what it means to be a man in America today.
In addition, the book includes the winning essay from The Good Men Project's national writing contest: Perry Glasser's "Iowa Black Dirt." It's the story of a man unexpectedly gaining full custody of his eight-year-old daughter. After an awkward start, he begins to more comfortably embrace his role as a full-time single parent.
As a woman often baffled by the mystifying world of men's behavior, I found the book enlightening.
The DVD started out as a collection of ten shorts featuring men reaching for an understanding of their unique roles. It quickly evolved into a 60-minute documentary of interviews with men who are trying to answer the question, "what is a good man?" It's directed and produced by Matt Gannon. (In the Crease, Girl with a Pearl Earring, Quills.)
The movie gets off to a testosterone-infused start, with a caution: WARNING--The following contains some graphic images of war.
Without spoiling the film, I can divulge that it is just the first segment, Shooting the Truth, by war photographer Michael Kamber, which includes the cautionary imagery. I appreciated the warning and closed my eyes for portions of the segment.
But those images can be a valuable resource in the right situation, as Matlack explains: