June interview with Curtis
Curtis Mitchell is a powerful leader, and a
gentleman a rare quality indeed in MKP.
Over the past four years, I have gotten to know
Curtis through my work as Editor of The New Warrior
Journal. And I can tell you, he has never
ever shown me anything except complete
consideration and respect. (A blessing which does
not always come with being a reporter like me.)
And, Ive gotten to know and love him even
more since he stepped down from two terms as the
Chairman of The ManKind Project.
When I experienced a crisis recently, I went
directly to Curtis for support. He held my energy
is such a way that I could breathe again, and
settle into some perspective. (My dear reader, I
hope you have at least one man in your life you can
do that with.)
Before I was able to begin the interview with
the Past Chairman, Curtis invited me to deal with
what was up with me. I was an emotional wreck.
Im still your friend, and I want to
talk about you, first, he said, with a tone
that calmed me down.
Even remembering this now brings tears to my
As I pushed with my nervous energy, Curtis
continued to hear me and talk to me in a nurturing
Its more important that you be in a
good place right now, and then well do the
interview, he added.
It was this Curtis Mitchell, with his enormous
compassion and years of experience, that inspired
the new Editorial Policy found at The New Warrior
Journal. And, he is the one who helped me accept
more fully the depth of my own trauma. Doing that
work with him in that moment actually created a
healing transformation for me. Men, this is the
magic of our work.
Your trauma is not only personal and
interpersonal, its also institutional and
cultural, the Past Chairman told me.
Lets say you were traumatized by your
father [correct on that account] but you
were also traumatized by the cultural way he was
I was talking to a man who was reading my soul.
It is true. My father was the second born in a
family where work on the farm was all there was to
life, and his father was the task master. It was
about pure survival. My ancestors came over to the
West from Switzerland and lived in mud huts
originally. They scraped an existence right out of
the hard cold soil of Logan, Utah. So, my father
being a more sensitive soul, gravitated to his
mother and his sisters for interaction. He was
mocked for it by his father and older brother. He
was ridiculed for being the only child of 12 to go
to college. He became a full professor with a PhD
at Indiana State University.
In those days, sensitive men were
often treated mercilessly. He carried some of that
Tyrant that he was taught into our home where I was
the number two child the more
sensitive of the children - and where I
received the same kind of abusive treatment he had
Curtis gets this. Curtis gets me.
I asked Curtis how he came by this insight.
I didnt understand the nature of
cultural trauma at first, he began. I
didnt really recognize it until this past
year. Ive seen clearly how culturally and
institutionally derived wounds show up in a man.
Its a phenomenon that Ive been
wondering about for awhile; its not come home
so clearly until this year. There are real somatic
and visceral body reactions to trauma. Its a
problem where a man can get so charged and seized
up with this archetypal energy from the culture
that it becomes very dangerous its
dangerous when men are not able to communicate with
I dont know anyone who is more
conscientious or precise with words than Curtis
Mitchell. From a writers point of view, I
admire this quality. Some of you may call it
intellectualism and, if
youve been following Jim Mitchells work
youll understand that MKP is not only about
the heart, it should include the head as well.
Curtis is a wordsmith. Some considered that a
liability, as a writer, I see it as a strength that
also blesses our heart work. I wish more men were
as well-read and consciously aware as Curtis
We do have some anti-intellectualism in
MKP. Who did Lenin shoot after he shot all the
lawyers? It was the teachers.
I asked Curtis if men had ever misinterpreted
his words as Chairman, or misunderstood him
One misunderstanding that happened
its more of a regret that I have about my
proposal of creating a culture of
generosity. Some people thought it was just a
ploy to get money. Thats not what cultivating
a culture of generosity is about; its about
cultivating the capacity to be generous. Its
about creating sacred abundance. For me, one of the
reasons Ive worked so hard in life is so I
can develop my own capacity to be a generous man. I
have more of a capacity to be generous, and
Ive devoted it to service in MKP.
So, how will you continue to be generous with
your leadership in MKP?
It all depends on what the Project
does, he replied, in a bit of a cryptic tone
that Curtis is famous for
continue to serve on the Compensation Committee,
the Process Safety Committee, the Structure
Committee, and the Shadow Committee.
I wonder what hell do in his spare time
I asked Curtis what hes learned as
Not a fucking thing, he quipped.
Let me think about that
important thing Ive learned is about the
nature and depth of human suffering. Im able
to witness and care more deeply about other
peoples suffering. I want to alleviate
Curtis said he wept repeatedly through his first
nine NWTA staffings. I relate. I cried through my
first three years of MKP.
How can we develop more compassion in MKP?
Compassion isnt the only virtue we
need to cultivate, he added, quickly.
Compassion alone wont rectify the
situation. Thats my belief. I think we also
need courage, and generosity, and wisdom.
Compassion is a Lovers virtue, and we need to
come full circle with men.
What is the biggest threat to the future of
The biggest threat to the organization is
for us to be overwhelmed by cultural shadows that
are filled with huge collective, rather than
personal, archetypal energies. Sometimes there is a
collective naiveté where we only want to
deal with things that are good. There is some
not-good energy in our organization that gets
trapped as shadow material a blind spot -
and as an educational and training entity, we have
to recover that and send it into the
I hear a warning voice in Curtis that I hear
from Dr. Robert Moore or John the Baptist
crying from the wilderness.
I got to work Curtis a little here as I pressed
him on the flip side of naiveté.
The flip side of naiveté is
cruelty, he declared forcefully, as I let the
words sink deeply into my soul.
Naiveté is an inappropriate
vulnerability, and it invites cruelty.
Man, oh man, this was giving me cold chills.
Im hearing that there is a force in all of us
that exploits vulnerability. I know I do it. Others
do it to me. Im processing this and believing
my transformation is about holding appropriate
vulnerability just like the martial artists
who have an iron fist in a velvet glove.
Curtis said his 3rd quarter report received many
reactions from men, and I might say
I was amazed how many misunderstood how I
was using the word justice, as in
asking us to become Just Men, Agents of Justice. I
was asking men to stop being unjust, and it was as
if they resented it. I was asking men to stop
taking advantage of one another, stop abusing one
another, and stop being tolerant of
I had to ask what Curtis thought of the new
Chairman of MKP. I thought hed give me some
sweet and solicitous answer. I believed him when he
spoke with authenticity.
Jim Mitchell has enormous courage. He is a
brilliant analyst of group dynamics, and how
individual personalities contribute to a circle. He
works really hard on himself so he can be aware of
his own shadows and how they show up. He does that
better than most men Ive ever seen.
I asked Curtis if he had survived the slings and
arrows of mens projection around his
leadership. I owned my own projections with
Youre completely alone, then
no one else suffers from that.
I laughed out loud.
Are you relieved that you dont have to
hold those projections in an official capacity
Absolutely, was his one word
He added: After a certain point, the
accumulated weight of those projections can make it
impossible for a leader to lead effectively. Then
its time for that person to step
Im thinking of the quote, The king
is dead, long live the king.
I hope we dont so easily slay our
So what is Curtis Mitchell going to be doing to
take care of himself?
Im resting, spending time with
people who love me. Im a private person,
really. Im doing things that bring me
pleasure. One of the things Im doing is to be
a better healer its also what I do for
My dear reader, I honor Curtis Mitchell. I have
always trusted him. He has never discounted or
undermined me personally, or as your Editor.
I thanked him for his honorable service as our
Chairman. Hes always been an ally to me.
Reid, MKP needs you. And, Im honored
that you consider me a man you can trust with your
reactions. Thats the kind of man I want to
be: a man who can create a safe enough trust where
friendship can develop. My goal is to be worthy of
Curtis, you are a worthy friend to me.
© 2007 Reid Baer
* * *
The fame you earn has a different taste from the
fame that is forced upon you. - Gloria
Reid Baer, an
award-winning playwright for A Lyons
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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