A Man



July interview with Fred Saldutti

Fred Saldutti is an Old Warrior and a New Warrior.

So, before we begin, this is your fair warning that Saldutti is an iconoclast – he pulls no punches. You may love and/or hate him – but he shoots straight from the hip. It’s a quality I happen to like.

Saldutti told me he is not trying to get rid of his Old Warrior – rather, he’s facing that part of himself honestly and working with it – developing the many gifts from that powerful raw energy.

When I spoke to him, he had just returned from attending church.

“The preacher’s message was around sin and forgiveness,” he began. “It was very enlightening for me, and helped me to open up more to an avenue of being gentler. Also, I tend to beat myself up for my Old Warrior ... I’m forgiving this part of me as well.”

After 13 years as an initiated man, with 92 staffings and two hot seats, Saldutti has never been certified as a Co-Leader in MKP.

“I’ve had ill feelings toward some men in our Project who I judge have wronged me … yet right now I have a deeper realization that I tend to point fingers at others instead of doing my own work. I needed to hear that sermon today. I have to remember that men’s criticism of me is still their projection and not take it on myself. The most I can do is to take ownership of me. And, to the best of my ability, I’m sending prayers and blessings to those who I believe have hurt me. Now, I’m going about my business of taking care of Fred.”

Your humble editor has known this man for a dozen years. Saldutti grew up in a rough environment on the streets of Philadelphia with an Old Warrior father who was frequently violent to members of his family. Saldutti left home when he was 15 years old, quit school, got married, and went to work in concrete construction, where he’s been for forty years. He recently retired to Reidsville, North Carolina, where I live. We’re in the same I-Group and spend a good deal of time together – he’s one of the most loving and generous men I know. And, he can be brutally honest.

“I’m aware of my Old Warrior who slashes and slays – a very manipulative fellow – and yet there’s a productive part that gets things done without worrying about the consequences. Ultimately, there’s a shadow piece in my Old Warrior that is afraid to speak up and be authentic. My New Warrior has given me an opportunity to take a look at where my dysfunctions are or were in my life and speak up without fear. And, I’m better able to take responsibility for the consequences of my actions.”

I ask you, my brothers, is it possible that any of us are in denial about our own Old Warrior and the consequences of its presence? Is there an inclination in you to reflect anything and everything you hear about yourselves back onto the man who is speaking? Especially if you're in a position of authority? Is it ALL just projection, or are we able to be humble enough to see the possibility of some truth even from a newly initiated man?

I heard a man tell me that he enjoyed his recent NWTA initiation, but preferred the association of his I-Group because there was less of “an organized military rank-style energy among the men.”

“We need structure on our NWTA’s, but that’s the catch-22,” Saldutti said, “Men don’t have to obey and do what they’re told. I would love to have a rookie stand up to a leader and say ‘NO’ that’s not what we should do. Too much of what we do is fear based with men believing that the leaders know everything. There are some leaders who are not willing to listen to a guy with lesser experience. We need to enroll leaders on our weekends, and we need to hold them accountable in clean and safe ways.”

Fred, you are advocating anarchy on our NWTA’s!

“Maybe I am … (laughing) … sometimes I think we need more chaos than control on our weekends.”

But Fred, these certified leaders sign agreements to be responsible for what happens on an NWTA. Are you suggesting we abandon that protocol?

“Yes, I am. For legal purposes, every man coming to be initiated signs his own waver to take full responsibility for himself. And, it’s not just one or two men responsible on a weekend – it’s the whole staff.”

So, what would a leadership-less NWTA look like?

“It would look like the way Rich Tosi and Bill Kauth and Ron Herring did it – with only a few men on staff. We all sit down and have a conversation about who’s doing what - a consensus. MKP International is afraid of stepping into the fire, afraid of being authentic initiators of men, afraid of the really edgy Golden side of the Warrior.”

Then are we becoming too soft?

“Yes,” he exclaimed. “I started working at 14 years old building swimming pools for my uncle. The first day on the job he slapped me across my head and told me I was doing it wrong. From then on, I started paying attention. That’s the word … paying attention. I didn’t want to get smacked again so I paid attention. I made sure I was aware of my surrounding from then on.”

Here I add one of my favorite Rumi poems:

The Core of Masculinity

The core of masculinity does not derive
from being male,
nor friendliness from those who console.

Your old grandmother says, "Maybe you shouldn't
go to school. You look a little pale."

Run when you hear that.
A father's stern slaps are better.

Your bodily soul wants comforting.
The severe father wants spiritual clarity.

He scolds but eventually
leads you into the open.

Pray for a tough instructor
to hear and act and stay within you.

We have been busy accumulating solace.
Make us afraid of how we were.

Lest this idea of masculinity looks one sided, I will tell you that I know personally the compassion, the empathy, the love Fred Saldutti has for men. He’s a man I trust because he owns his shadow and his gold.

“I am a unique individual … compassionate and nasty. I am loving and I am also hateful. I am a little bit of everything. People should claim their dangerous side. I’ve had so many men in my life tell me to do things in a different way and so I tried to change for other people instead of being the man I was … being myself. I am now honoring my Old Warrior and allowing the compassion of my New Warrior.”

So, Fred … what’s the price you pay for allowing your Old Warrior to be seen by other men?

“The price I pay is that some men are not willing to take the time to get to know me – get close to me.”

What would you say to men who struggle to find a place in MKP with their Old Warrior?

“You no longer have to struggle brother … if it’s not working, I invite you to move on to something that does. Or do what I do – keep comin’ back! I show up in MKP as a powerful man.”

Saldutti has been involved with the Lodge Keepers Society since his initiation.

“I take the time to sit out in the woods just to be … and listen to the birds chip, the wind blow, branches drop … that just stops me enough to keep me grounded. It helps me remember how insignificant I really am on this planet. I’m a tiny portion of a larger scheme of things. We are all small and great – they’re both true.”

Tell me more what we do with this “authority” issue as an initiated man in a larger organization?

“We have to be willing to negotiate with each other as powerful men. When I’m told ‘it’s MY way or NO way’ – that pisses me off. I don’t get along well with men who won’t negotiate with me. And, I’m not going to kiss any ass.”

So what is Fred actually doing in MKP now? Well, at our last Greater Carolinas NWTA he was the MOS Leader and worked his ass off. He regularly holds lodges on his property for men in the area. And, he is the champion in our newly evolving I-Group.

“My I-Group is my salvation – I get a chance to allow other men to guide and support me in being healthy. I could walk on this planet without support, but in 6 months I’d be back doing drugs and alcohol again. My first priority is being in a men’s group. It keeps me in balance.”

Wanna know how Fred shows up in our I-Group? His own words express it best.

“When I’m in a men’s group, I see the inclination for men to let you off the hook because they want to be your buddy. I don’t do that. I don’t want them to let me off the hook either. Keep calling me on my stuff. Be there for me.”

Saldutti said he believes I-Groups are a healthy place where every man can be an equal brother and share in their leadership skill development.

“I thank all you men for showing me who you are over the years - I would much rather have dysfunctional men than no men at all in my life. Thank you for all your perfections and imperfections. I would not be the man I am today were it not for all you men.”

I just have to ask – Fred, why do you still stay involved in MKP after 13 years as an initiated man, with 92 staffings and two failed hot seats?

“By not getting what I wanted early on, it’s ultimately been a blessing for me to take a deeper look at myself and who I am. I’m a better person because of MKP and because of my commitment to attending a men’s group. I’ve looked at my own projections and done my personal work. I’ve looked at my wounds and my golden aspects and I claim who I am as a man on this planet: I’m a compassionate, loving, tender, soft man who at times can be a WILD MAN in my full masculine energy.”

Having met Fred’s better half, Rebecca, my esteem for him quadrupled. She’s an angel. Fred dotes on her.

“I have to pat myself on the back: ‘you’ve come a long way, Fred.’ And, I find great solace in knowing my wife loves and supports me. She tells me I’m really much more of a pussy cat than a roaring lion.”

[Editor’s Note: Fred has invited anyone who would like to engage in a conversation with him to Email him - salduttir@bellsouth.net]

© 2008, 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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