In real life there are more than a few good men

Published in the Courier Mail 17 August 2009

To be honest, sometimes I feel sorry for men. Men so often get a bad rap. Modern narratives are filled with negative stereotypes. We are reminded often that men are more likely to commit violent crime and have higher rates of incarceration, and we’ve all heard of examples of dead-beat dads.

But last week, in a refreshing variant, we heard about two good men.

Murray Goodrich was one of these men. Murray’s daughters described him as an ‘amazing’ father. Their description of a man who cooked for them, took them fishing, did their hair and taught them how to drive was heart-warming. Even more poignant was their recounting that he would call them each night from work to talk to them. Last Monday was the final night he called, when he checked to see how they enjoyed the steaks he had prepared for them. Not long after that final phone call, Goodrich was killed while working as a traffic controller on the Bruce Highway.

Jay Carter was the other man. We heard about Jay when the ashes of his late wife, Amanda, were heartlessly stolen from his family home in Richlands. Also in the stolen safe were their wedding rings and wedding certificate, Amanda’s engagement ring, and a dvd that Amanda had prepared for their son. Thankfully, her ashes and some of the items have been recovered and returned to Jay and his son.

Both of these sad stories last week highlighted men who very obviously loved their wife and family. Maybe it is because we hear negative portrayals so often that the contrast of these stories had such a strong impact.

Of course, I’m aware of the sad fact that men are more likely to commit violent crimes, and that dead-beat dads do exist. Some men do objectify and exploit women, but there are also a lot of men that are good men. While we rarely hear about these men, they are there.

In extensive interviews for What Men Don’t Talk About, Australian author Maggie Hamilton, spoke to men of all ages. The results are compelling and reveal many men feel a nagging sense of failure, as well as isolation. Hamilton wrote, “Almost every man I approached for an interview prefaced his comments by saying he wasn’t a typical man. It wasn’t until I had heard this comment a number of times that I realised these men were asking to be treated as individuals. When they understood this was my approach, they were amazingly frank and articulate. I marvelled at their openness, the richness of their life experiences and the depth of their emotions.”

It would do us well to recognise that there are very many men in our community who deserve encouragement and applause. They are all different. Some are parenting, with a partner or alone. Some are serving the poor or disadvantaged. Some are working with addicts or the displaced. Some are teaching their kids how to ride a bike or brush their teeth. Some are helping their neighbour or friend with gardening or moving furniture or in a variety of other ways. Some are living quiet unassuming lives and some are living prominently.

They are men doing their best to live productive, meaningful and purposeful lives and like all of us, need encouragement. They are by no means perfect, but then again, none of us are.