A Man



April interview with Reid Baer - Fierce Love

Why not just love? Why does it have to be fierce?

I’ll tell you why. Without fierce love … love is merely high-school drama.

Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves

First, I want to honor Patricia Clason for her early work with the founders of MKP, and for her continued service to Combat Veterans.

Second, I was planning on sharing an interview I did with her in The New Warrior Journal and other Internet places. That’s not going to happen now. I attended her workshop, Taking It Lightly and enjoyed it. However, what I experienced in my effort to write a story afterwards, including my YouTube videos that I was asked to take down, was drama, drama, and more drama.

I choose to end the drama right here. It’s a matter of integrity for me to steer clear of it. I'm making a personal and professional choice. I'm not going to get into recriminations, or make this my rant. This article is not about anyone else but me; it’s now about my work around fierce love. This is my experience.

When I’m asked what the key value of MKP is for me, I almost always answer that it is integrity.

I know too many people who put love first in their approach to life, and then don’t get the integrity part right. I also know people who strive for integrity, and don’t get much love in their life. There’s a tension between these two archetypal elements for me.

My original wound began in the Lover quadrant where I was told repeatedly, “I love you,” while I was growing up in an abusive family environment. There was no integrity – or congruence – around love for me. So, I’m extremely sensitive to the use of it, and carry my own distortions for it.

Even still, in the last few years I’ve been trying out the word love. I like it, in context. Yet, I see how dangerous it is by itself – just like the Lover trying to take over the entire inner kingdom of the psyche. How many of us have our Lover sitting like a High-Chair Tyrant in our lives?

I think there’s a tendency in us to project the focus of our deepest wound into our life's pursuits. If we’re wounded in the Lover, wouldn’t we think love was the silver bullet to save us? The end all and be all? If I think it’s all about the Lover … then am I destined to be out of sync with the other quadrants? Yes. Each man has a strength and a weakness in the four quarters that help and hinder him in an optimal life - rolling through life like a well rounded wheel. Shall I stop every moment and tell myself or others that the rolling wheel is exclusively working because I have learned to access solely my Lover, or my Warrior, or my Magician, or King. The good life integrates them all equally.

Wolf in sheep’s clothing

I’ve had the opportunity of strengthening my Warrior, not in ways I would consciously ask for, when false accusations were thrown at me in a messy divorce court. I’ve been hurt in devastating ways on more than one occasion from a too vulnerable Lover. I have left my sword on the shelf in the name of love. I continue to struggle with setting healthy boundaries. I’ve been physically ill at times when I've left my Lover naively dangling and vulnerable to lover/victims who thought they were justified in lashing out at me. The least accountable people I know are victims. Get a group together, and you've got a ready-made mob.

For the most part, I believe that in MKP we create strong, hard, and healthy containers to do our deep soulful work. There's a purpose in this - safety. Emotional safety. Psychic safety. Physical safety. Love without accountability is the most dangerous thing on the planet.

Dangling Earring
By Reid Baer

Well, I see the bait
You’ve chosen is nothin’
So slimy as a worm …
Oh, look!
It’s honey –
Sweet honey drippin’ from the hook
I’ve got lodged in me bleedin’ cheek
And I’m feelin’ vulnerable and weak
For this thing called love
From below or up above
Wondering what price I’ve paid
To be complete …
By the way –
Me thinks you cheat.
Well, I say, it’s been fun
But I’ve simply got to run
With what integrity
I’ve got left
In little ‘ol me
So I’ll be
Jumpin’ back now
And swimmin’ again
In the deep blue sea.

Faith without works is dead

I know a little something about love … I love my God, I love my wife, my children, my family, my friends, and me and you … and I get to be loved. Yet somehow, love doesn’t show up in our MKP language. Some say it’s a deficit, I say it’s perfect the way it is.

Like a tree, if we focus entirely on the fruit itself, we may not have the vision or real focus for the long row of hoeing that has to get done. It takes a great deal of work/faith to actually get to the fruit, including planting the seed, nurturing it, dunging it, cultivating it, pruning it, watering it, and protecting it vigilantly. The fruit is the byproduct of good hard accountability with nature. Anything short of that is cheap fruit – cheap love.

I say watch out for those – anyone, anywhere – who advance their cause in the name of love. (I’d like for you to read Denis DeRougement’s Love in the Western World to understand where we are in our modern culture around a degraded form of what was originally a divine word.)

Here’s what MKP International stated from a consensus in its last conference:

Purpose: We awaken and empower men to conscious service to the world.

Mission: To challenge and nurture every man on his journey to authenticity through initiation.

Vision: Inspiring men to reclaim the sacred masculine, creating safe circles and vibrant communities. All men welcome.

Core values: The core values of MKP are accountability, authenticity, compassion, generosity, integrity, leadership, multicultural awareness, and respect.

We commit to integrating these values into our lives.

Where’s the LOVE, man?

I’m wondering if there’s a distinct quality about being a man that is willing to be focused on accountability or authenticity before he dives into an all encompassing world of love. What if accountability is the supreme act of love? For me, if I go into a task with the idea of doing the work first, and having fun second, it tends to serve me better than if I go in wanting to have fun first, and then the work usually doesn’t get done (or it’s half-assed).

Let me ask you, is it possible that those who profess the most love are the ones asking for the most excuses around their own behavior? Do you let someone off the hook (love) because you want to be (loved) let off the hook yourself? What a wonderful and terrible word love can be. What has been the cost for you to love or be loved in your life? Have you ever felt like you were the object of a person feigning love onto you so that they could identify themselves as a loving person? I have. I do.

Actions speak louder than words

Do you have anyone in your life that uses your Lover, or your shadow Lover - shame, to hook you into their life? Do you wimp out among men and women, and end up losing a piece of yourself? Is this not a lack of integrity?

Is my first obligation to love or to do my own personal work? D.H.Lawrence says life is a “…long difficult repentance.” The word repentance doesn’t bother me; I think it’s just growing – developing. This is my primary task. If I don’t heal myself, then I’m not really doing anything for the world. (Gandhi)

I hear this phrase a lot: Love is life. Well, it may work for some, but my life doesn’t work that way.

Stephen Covey talks about leadership that is principle-based, as opposed to personality based. Think about the gift Rich Tosi and Bill Kauth gave MKP. They literally gave away the organization to us. This Project does not exist to promote these two men, nor do they want it to.

Other organizations based on personalities, I believe, run the risk of grandiosity that Dr. Robert Moore says is the single biggest sickness of our generation. I believe it too. I wrestle with it.

If it’s true that religion is the last refuge of scoundrels, then I believe that in the name of love, people become inflated and self-serving in their own wounds – creating a selfish fantasy universe and lovingly inviting people into it ... to simply adore the creator.

The Golden Lover is about connection, the Shadow Lover is about addiction. Tyrant Kings/Abdicating Kings collude with Shadow Lovers to justify addictions of any kind, including an addiction to love. Golden Kings are a compliment to Golden Lovers.

Shall mercy rob justice?

I believe in the tension of life. As C.G. Jung says, “All of life’s problems are fundamentally unsolvable.” If that’s true, then anyone who tries to sell me on a magic potion, including love, is a profound liar. Life is simply hard. Deal with it. (Richard Rohr)

I do pray for my enemies. I do work to forgive. I create space for people who are different from me. I work on listening. I stretch my compassion and empathy. I look to give approbation and blessings to others. I seek acknowledgment and blessings for myself. I do believe in power that comes from another source than me - a Divine Light/Life/Generative/Loving source.

Do NOT count me as a love guru - I couldn’t handle the projections. I’m happy to be a Searcher of Truth. Rumi can talk about love. The rest of us are dabblers. Rumi says a father’s stern slap is better for a man than his mother’s indulgence. Give me a Real World before you give me Real Love. Our goal isn’t to find the meaning of life, but to find the true experience of life. (Joseph Campbell)

My Sovereign, working with my Warrior and my Magician, help keep my Lover in a clean place. It’s ultimately a mystery for me, this life. I don’t have a neat answer that sums it all up - like love. Ask me to look at my strengths and weaknesses in the Four Quadrants, but don’t ask me to be a perfect example of any of them for you. I can’t imagine always being on my guard to be anything - especially loving.

This is what I’ll hear from some people: “He’s just not loving enough” or “I’m not loving enough” or “I can’t be intimate the way he/she wants me to be.”

Forget that crap.

Random Thoughts

Recently, for the first time in my life, I got a puppy. Patricia, my wife, knew how to house train the critter; she's had dogs before. She made rules first, and gave the puppy love second. The puppy's sister from the same litter, owned by Patricia's son, is being loved first, and trained second - it's still shitting in the house. Ours scratches on the door to go potty outside.

Is Simon Cowell, the judge on American Idol, cruel when he tells a terrible singer that they're actually terrible? Or, is he really helping that individual from further hardships in the savage entertainment business? I'll tell you who's really being cruel - Paul Abdul and her love, love, love comments for everybody. She's encouraging bad behavior.

Because I come in contact with a lot of people, I have to set boundaries or I would never have a life of my own. I do appreciate your kind notes and phone calls - really, they're welcome - but if someone starts calling me everyday, I have to say "stop." Watch how this kind of person then reacts - who proclaims they're loving you - if you ask them to cease contact. Oh, the high-school drama begins. You'll be hearing from mutual friends, advocates of reconciliation, and who knows who ... in the end, however, it's a sign of no respect when a simple request cannot be granted for space or distance in a relationship. Now take a good look here for the repercussions: the passive aggressive Warrior imbedded within the Lover idealization shows itself. There's no awareness, and no responsibility taken. Watch how the Magician comes out quickly to argue the cause of the Wounded Lover. It's all shadow shit.

You should know that I married a good Warrior Woman. She’s tougher than I am. She’s from the coal-mining hills near Tennessee. She doesn’t abide the kind of emotional game-playing that a lot of women (men) do. I’m actually more the Lover in our marriage, than she is. She’d admit to that.

What holds my world together is the integration of all the archetypal energies. My healthy soul rolls smoothly when each quadrant is honored and given an integral role. Integration is integrity. I'll say that again. Integration is integrity. Or, as C.G. Jung would say, it’s a kind of optimal individuation of the multi-faceted energies that flow within and without us. My healthy ego is the regulator.

I don’t want us to just be Warriors, or Magicians, or Lovers, or Kings. I want us NOT to get stuck in any one quadrant as the secret to life. I want an integrated life for myself and for you. In my best moments, I’m NOT looking for an addictive shortcut; I’m willing to hang in there for the whole life experience, including the good, the bad, and the unloving. My goal is to create a safe container within myself where everything's welcome. It's my Sovereign that gives me that space not to immediately react - or overreact. It's certainly not the Lover function.

If I can be true to the goal of integrity, then I can learn to accept all of who I am. If I can be integrated within myself, then I can accept all the various peoples of the world, including those I perceive as the lowliest (which obviously represent my own denied parts).

So, men … brothers! Shall we believe in a world that is real, where men are conscious of their shadows and gold, and ultimately take responsibility for who we are and how we act?!

That's the world I want to live in!

© 2007, Reid Baer

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The fame you earn has a different taste from the fame that is forced upon you. - Gloria Vanderbilt

Reid Baer, an award-winning playwright for “A Lyon’s Tale” is also a newspaper journalist, a poet with more than 100 poems in magazines world wide, and a novelist with his first book released this month entitled Kill The Story. Baer has been a member of The ManKind Project since 1995 and currently edits The New Warrior Journal for The ManKind Project www.mkp.org . He resides in Reidsville, N.C. with his wife Patricia. He can be reached at E-Mail.

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