As many of you know, our goal within Sacred Purpose is to educate not only ourselves but our members and communities about issues that the American college student faces. One of the most important topics is Sexual Assault and Misconduct prevention on college campuses today. Sexual assaults are most likely to happen between the months of August and October and are not limited to women. It is important to note men are victims of sexual assault as well.
Suffice it to say: we must do more, and it starts with us.
I’ve heard it said once before. “Silence is complicity. Silence—you’re an accessory.” Strong, but fair words about the culpability of bystanders who do nothing.
But what can or should we do as Greek men, exactly? How do we combat the systemic bias towards sexual assault reporting? The answer may seem easy, but it will take work.
- Engage in prevention programing.
- Partner with groups on campus and show solidarity with these issues. Your chapter might not be the problem, but your chapter can be a part of the solution.
- Help your campus partners design and implement customized programing for Fraternities and Sororities.
- Participate in training on how to effectively respond when a friend or family member discloses an incident of sexual misconduct.
Hold your university to account and get the education and training YOU need to be a better advocate for sexual assault prevention. Things like:
- Providing bystander intervention training
- Ongoing education starting your freshman year and continuing through graduate school
- Making information regarding on-campus efforts to stem intimate partner violence available to all students
- Engaging men in conversations regarding sexual assault
Your ability to help in any capacity is about sending a strong message to your campus community about your commitment to helping prevent sexual assault and misconduct.
Bystander Intervention Tips
- Talk to your friends honestly and openly about sexual assault.
- Don’t be a bystander – if you see something, intervene in any way you can.
- Trust your gut. If something looks like it might be a bad situation it probably is.
- Be direct. Ask someone who looks like they may need help if they’re okay.
- Get someone to help you if you see something – enlist a friend, RA, bartender, or host to help step in.
- Keep an eye on someone who has had too much to drink.
- If you see someone who is too intoxicated to consent, enlist their friends to help them leave safely.
- Recognize the potential danger of someone who talks about planning to target another person at a party.
- Be aware if someone is deliberately trying to intoxicate, isolate, or corner someone else.
- Get in the way by creating a distraction, drawing attention to the situation, or separating them.
- Understand that if someone does not or cannot consent to sex, it’s rape.
- Never blame the victim.
If you are a victim, a survivor or helping someone in that situation go to http://www.notalone.gov to get the resources and information you need. You can also call theNational Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE.
Spring Break 2017 is upon us and with the help of our friends at Holmes Murphy and AFLV, we compiled a list of safety tips for students heading out on Spring break trips!
- Communicate the Details
Make sure family and friends know your departure and arrival times and phone numbers where you can be reached. Set regular check-in times over the trip. Always keep your hotel door locked and never open your door to strangers. Always carry identification, emergency contacts, and important medical history (allergies to medicines, chronic illnesses) in your purse or wallet.
- Drive Responsibly
If you’re taking a road trip as part of your spring break plans, take turns behind the wheel, and always remember: Click It or Ticket. And whoever sits shotgun should stay awake and keep the driver company.
- Hitting the Town
Follow the “buddy system” at all times but, ultimately, know you are responsible for your own personal safety. Trust your instinct if a situation just doesn’t feel safe. Don’t assume that acquaintances are looking out for your best interests. Go out with your friends; come home with your friends. It’s as simple as that.
- Know your Limits
Remember that “moderation” is the key to much in life, including alcohol for those of legal drinking age. Know your limit and stick to it. Use extra precaution while drinking in the sun or in a hot tub. Both affect the body in different ways when alcohol is involved. Less is more. Alcohol and water don’t mix. Avoid swimming and boating while drinking.
- Use Protection
Set your personal boundaries prior to your trip and stick to them. Don’t do anything you’re not comfortable with, and don’t try to coerce others to do something they’re not comfortable with. And always make sure protection is involved if that’s the direction you choose. The best way to protect yourself against “date rape” drugs is to never leave your drink unattended at bars, nightclubs, and parties. Don’t assume that acquaintances, and even friends, are looking out for your best interests.
- ATM Usage
Visit the ATM during the day, use your hand to cover your PIN when punching it in, and find another ATM if it looks sketch. It’s easy for hackers to insert a chip and collect account numbers and PINs. Your best bet is to use an ATM at a bank instead of a random ATM.
Stay safe and try and get some rest and be ready to hit the ground running when you get back to campus!
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Labor Day Weekend gets deadlier every year. Unfortunately, this trend is not new and the rates have been rising over the past 50 years. The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates 405 preventable fatalities will take place this weekend.
This sobering information takes my mind back to this time a few years ago when I lost an old friend of mine in a reckless driving accident.
Stuart and I were instant friends when we met at church camp during middle school. That seems to happen with everyone though right? Thrust into a situation where you know either a bunch of folks or no one and you have to make it work. Something was different about Stuart though. It was like we had known each other our whole lives. His sense of humor disarmed everyone. Owning his “big boy” appearance with jokes about his weight, his seemingly always red cheeks, and as we got older, his “old-lady mobile” (he drove a Buick during high school.)
Every year, we would reconvene at church camp. Sometimes without having seen each other since the summer before, but as we got older and were given car privileges/later curfews, Stuart and I became even closer. We realized we grew up just miles away from each other in a large city’s suburban outskirts but were only separated by school zone boundaries. We would go to church together on Sundays and Wednesdays and to rock shows on the weekend. He was always down for a good laugh or a serious talk and we would often jump back and forth between the two. Stuart and I came from vastly different upbringings, but we connected on such a deep level it was hard to keep us separated. You knew stepping foot into his space to be prepared for anything, but you knew you would be different when you stepped out of it. He had that kind of effect.
As we got older, church camps became a thing of the past, college choices were made, and distance came between us. This is something I know most people can relate to, but with Stuart, it was different. No matter the distance, we kept in touch. Through Facebook or random texts, he was always there. Always joking. Always laughing. We watched each other grow from afar but we always knew we had a bond. Our bonds would grow stronger with other people over time, but we always had our childhood. We always had summers and rock shows.
Stuart was in his last semester at Texas State University and set to graduate with a degree in Political Science in December. It was a typical Friday night- hanging out with friends, laughing (his laugh was contagious), telling jokes (not sure if anyone could top his), and responsibly enjoying drinks. As the night was winding down, Stuart was ready to head home and got into the passenger seat of his friend’s car. That was the last ride Stuart would take.
Stuart died at the scene. The car, going over 90 mph, smashed into a retaining wall and eventually wrapping around a tree just west of a golf course. The driver, lost his life later that morning in the hospital.
Reckless driving is one of many risky behaviors to avoid this weekend. In an effort to keep roadways safe, the NSC offers these safe driving tips for Labor Day weekend travelers:
- Don’t drink and drive. Police Officers will be in full force focusing attention on impaired drivers.
- If you do drink, make arrangements for a designated driver or a taxi.
- Wear your seat belt. It is estimated that 148 people may survive collisions this weekend because they will have worn safety belts.
- Enforce a distraction-free zone for drivers. This includes cell phones, gps, etc. – Designate a DJ for the car and someone to text for your driver.
- Allow plenty of travel time to discourage speeding and frustration.
- Drive alert and exercise extreme caution at all times.
Please enjoy yourselves responsibly this weekend and let’s start the fall semester off right.
College. We’re adults now. We’ve heard a thing or two about the birds and the bees. It’s a time when many people begin to have sexual experiences. Whether or not it’s your first time, sex should be an enjoyable and consensual experience.
But then there’s drunk sex. In college you learn you might like alcohol; you might like to have sex. So is it a good idea to put the two together? The truth is, a lot of people are having drunk sex. It happens. People get drunk, have sex, and they might even think it’s consensual.
You’re at a bar and having a few drinks when you notice someone. They’re having a drink too. You two hit it off right away and your flirt game is better than ever. What are the odds? One thing leads to another and you end up back at their place.
Now it’s morning.
Do you remember asking for consent, or did you wake up and not even think about it?
Alcohol affects everyone differently. There is no way for you to tell if another person may be too intoxicated to give consent. They may wake up in the morning and realize that they were taken advantage of while under the influence, regardless of what you thought in the moment. Again, if alcohol is involved, there is NO WAY for you to tell if a person is capable of giving consent.
The news headlines blare: “Fraternity Guy Takes Advantage of Drunk College Girl.”
Maybe it seems unlikely to you that this can happen. You’re a “good guy” who doesn’t want to take advantage of anyone. The reality is, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 1 in 5 college aged women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college.
The best way to avoid sexually assaulting someone is to obtain consent. Each state legally defines consent in its own way. While this may seem confusing, RAIIN.org explains the three main components each state uses to define consent: freely given consent, affirmative consent, and capacity to consent. Our focus today is a person’s capacity to give consent. In many states, if a person has consumed any alcohol whatsoever, they legally DO NOT have the capacity to give consent.
You may ask: “So even if they said yes, verbally, enthusiastically, and we were both drunk, this can be considered rape? So every time I had drunk sex, I risked committing a sexual assault?”
Women are often taught ways to avoid being raped: Stay with friends, pour your own drinks, carry pepper spray, etc., but as a man, a fraternity man, what should we be taught? A good first step is opening the discussion on what consent is, and how and when to obtain it. Understand the fact that consent isn’t just a onetime question, but a continuous conversation. Realize that any amount of alcohol negates consent. Educate your members on effective bystander intervention and the role brothers can take to prevent sexual assault throughout the entire community. It is our Sacred Purpose to prevent sexual assaults, because even one is too many.
When you ask for consent, you respect the answer. Period.
If you’re having trouble understanding consent, here’s a helpful video:
PJ Ricketson, Field Executive
I remember the day I knew I was gay. I began having those butterfly feelings in my stomach you hear about in the movies. It was then I knew deep down I had my first crush, and it was on a guy. I knew at that very moment I was not the same as everyone else. I was young, however, and I didn’t really understand the concept of “gay.” Not yet, at least.
For years afterwards, I told myself I had to like girls and anything less was unacceptable. I told myself the part of me who liked guys was just a collection of thoughts—it wasn’t real. While I would tell others I was straight, few would believe it. For years I was bullied because, to others, I seemed different. Every day at school was daunting and miserable; those were some of the darkest years of my life. Those who have been bullied know exactly what that’s like, and while I have forgiven, it is hard to forget.
In high school, I briefly dated a couple girls. Still, I noticed guys who were attractive to me. I told myself that attraction was just “thoughts.” While I never felt one hundred percent comfortable with my sexuality, I felt I finally put that part of me—those thoughts—behind me.
When I arrived at Northern Kentucky University (NKU) I became involved on campus through the Student Government Association. By second semester I accepted a bid to join an interest group that would become the Iota Tau chapter of Theta Chi. While we were still a colony, I began to date a woman at NKU. Even though I had told myself and others I was straight, people still suspected otherwise just as they had years before. The relationship just didn’t feel right, and after a month and a half I ended the relationship. I knew it hurt her, but I couldn’t keep pretending I was happy.
After that relationship, I put dating behind me. I accepted a position on a Cincinnati City Council campaign and devoted much of that summer to it and to my internship at the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts. I was really happy working in politics and at the courthouse. In addition, Theta Chi was coming together very strong. By the time sophomore year began, I was beginning to come into my prime.
In November my candidate won a seat on Cincinnati City Council and our colony installed as the Iota Tau chapter of Theta Chi. I began to make a name for myself on campus. My self-confidence grew. When spring semester rolled in, I was appointed to the Interfraternity Council to serve as Vice President of Membership. It was also around this time I noticed someone in an unexpected way – through Twitter. One of my chapter brothers retweeted one of his tweets; I clicked on his profile and found he and I had similar political and social views. I found him on Facebook and sent an innocuous friend request; he accepted it and we began to chat and learn more about each other. As we chatted more and more, I could tell there was a feeling greater than friendship. That part of me—those thoughts—had begun to come back. This time, however, I could not just put those thoughts away. This time was different, and I knew it. I felt it.
By February, things with this guy progressed and we admitted we liked each other. That is when I knew it was time for me to come out.
My chapter brothers immediately came to mind, so at one of our chapter meetings in February I came out, initially as bisexual so I could still hold out hope that I would be “normal.” In my mind, being bisexual was still better than being gay. I was very nervous doing it, but I hoped my brothers would be accepting: that’s exactly what they were. After meeting about a dozen brothers came up to me and congratulated me. One of my brothers said, “All I want is for you to be happy; I’m glad you came out.” They all told me how proud they were of me, and for the first time I felt completely normal.
Things did not work out with that guy. Soon after, however, I dated another guy and I knew I was gay. Not bisexual, but gay. That was my truth and I was finally able to live in it.
The fraternal movement has not always been known to be accepting of its LGBTQ members. There are countless examples from the past—both told and untold—of fraternities hazing, bullying, and kicking out brothers who either came out or whom they suspected of being gay. The most operative word there is “past.”
This is the present.
My Theta Chi brothers created a culture of caring through our collective Sacred Purpose which I needed to finally develop the courage to be who I am and nothing less. In a way, Theta Chi and Greek life saved my life. Without their acceptance, I don’t believe my mental health, to this day, would be in a strong place. Holding onto that burden was one of the hardest things I have ever done. With their support, I live authentically. I live my best life. Theta Chi took a timid college freshman who was lying to himself about his sexuality and helped him become a confident and proud man.
I don’t think I would be where I am today, a First Year at the University of Cincinnati College of Law, without the loving, respectful, and accepting environment that exists in Theta Chi Fraternity. These ideals are the Sacred Purpose we are all called to live. We need to remember this and put it in practice every single day.
Patrick Reagan (Iota Tau/Northern Kentucky 2016)
Three weeks ago this Saturday, the game changed.
Every year, thousands of collegians on campuses all across North America participate in leadership events, community building exercises, self-help seminars, personal development, team building trainings, and countless other activities which will ultimately define who they become once they leave their college/university. This has been the standard for decades for members of Greek letter organizations. Get your education but also live and learn outside the classroom. While the intent has always been there, fraternities have not always been the best at being able to quantify and articulate exactly what the fraternal experience is. This all changed July 23, 2016, when we launched The Resolute Man.
The feeling in the room was electrifying. As I began to field questions during the launch and in the days that followed I could see the wheels start to turn in the minds of our collegians and for some, I could see when it clicked.
“This is what we have been waiting for!” one brother quipped. “Resolute Man will make is so much easier for me to explain to non-members or even their parents the benefits of fraternity membership,” said another brother.
The Resolute Man for all intents and purposes is a road map to getting the most out of your collegiate experience. It highlights educational and experiential opportunities for collegians to fully engage in, not only through their academic pursuits on campus, but it also serves as pathway to instill leadership and social competency into their own personal and eventually professional lives.
It is true, the Resolute Man is a four-year journey for our collegiate members. What is truly special about Resolute Man is it purposely absorbs and adopts the tenets of Sacred Purpose; something which, when done correctly, can have a great impact on the lives of our entire membership and not just a single member.
Sacred Purpose’s mission is to foster a sense of responsibility in the protection of our brothers and our communities. The pillars of Sacred Purpose can all be traced back to the idea of creating true friendships rooted in learning and caring for one another. This can been seen in the updated leadership structure within local chapters, new advisor roles dedicated to health and safety, and the over 800 events created and implemented over the past two years. Creating opportunities for our collegians to have critical conversations with their chapter and their communities is one of the most rewarding aspects of our collective Sacred Purpose.
The Resolute Man makes it a priority for any collegian going through this journey to not only attend Sacred Purpose events put on by his chapter, it also requires them to help plan and implement an event themselves. A Resolute Man is a leader in his chapter and on his campus and through Sacred Purpose a Resolute Man is dedicated to the safety of his brothers and his community.
History was made in Theta Chi Fraternity with the Resolute Man and Sacred Purpose is an essential part of this historic move. I cannot wait to watch our collegians and eventually our alumni (myself included) achieve this historic distinction.
For more information, CLICK HERE
1000 days is a long time. You could walk coast-to-coast across the U.S. multiple times. You could spend a weekend in every country in the world. You could write a book, bring a child into the world, and train for a marathon, and you would still have time left over.
For more than 1000 days I have mourned the loss of my brother, Gilad Nissim.
March 26, 2013 was the last time I saw my friend. March 27th came and Gil, a freshman sitting in his dorm room, called his Dad complaining of a headache. After his conversation, Gil took the elevator down from his residence hall to grab lunch, took three steps outside of his building, and collapsed on the ground.
Gil was taken to the hospital where it was determined he suffered from an aneurism and was in a coma. Gil was in good health, but we soon learned he suffered from a condition called Arteriovenous Malformation, or AVM. He had a blood clot in his brain. A tangled mess of nerves in his skull, assumed to have been there since he was a child, just waiting to go off like a neurological time bomb.
Gil spent the next few months in the Maryland hospital before being transported to Israel where his family was located, and they would be able to try some experimental treatments. In November it was determined the son and brother we all came to know was not going to return to us, and he was taken off life support. He passed away on November 13, 2013.
I will never forget my Chapter President, Ben Caffey, calling us in for an emergency meeting that next Sunday afternoon. Ben, standing at the front of the room, was forced to shoulder the heavy burden of telling his chapter our 19-year-old brother would never awake from his coma. The kid who never ceased to put a smile on our faces, whether it was being the first to volunteer for an event, or having the uncanny ability of friend-zoning himself with every girl he met… he was gone.
There is something eerie about the death of someone younger than yourself. It brings into question a lot of truths you may have never been forced to consider. We grow up watching our grandparents, aunts, uncles, and sometimes even our parents pass. Unfortunately, all this conditioning does not quite prepare you for the untimely death of not only a teenager, but a teenager who was among the best of us. A physics major who applied for internships that PhD’s barely qualify for. But that was Gil: so bold in his actions that his genius could never be questioned with totality.
Gil’s death brought about a great deal of grief and I was forced to cope with the far-too-early loss of my friend. Coping comes in the most unique ways – for me it was restlessness. I needed to put my efforts into something meaningful for Gil, so we began work on a candlelight vigil.
As Greeks, we are day in and day out, pit against each other in competition. We compete in recruitment, athletics, philanthropy, community service, and socially and are constantly measuring our own success based on the results of others. In an instant, all of that pettiness faded away.
I met with Matt Lenno, our Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life, and he began giving me some information about how we could start putting something together for Gil. I sat in rooms with the
Panhellenic President, IFC President, and leaders from every fraternity on campus; each of them extending their own assisting hand to our memorial event. They each came forward with a donation for candles, offering aspects of their own fraternity’s ritual towards the loss of not just my Theta Chi brother, but a member of a larger brotherhood –of all Greeks.
On a bone-chilling November evening, while swirling winds threatened to blow out the 1000+ candles that were lit, a community of caring and mutual respect was cultivated. Our Sacred Purpose is to take care of our brothers and our community. That night our community took care of us.
In the 3 years since Gil’s death, it does not feel any easier, but it does feels more hopeful. Not because I hope to see him again in life, but because I saw the 1000+ people who showed up for his vigil, and I see them honoring him still to this day. It is a quick look at the bracelet I’ve worn on my wrist in his memory each day, or those who make a Facebook post on his wall telling his family we remember him. Gil’s impact will continue through those who remember him.
It is impossible to understand why Gil died. It still feels tragic and wasteful. At the age of 23, how to understand death is still a mystery to me. The only thing I can do is attempt to understand Gil’s life.
I can understand what Gil did each day that made people fall in love with the good in him.
I can work every day to live it in a way that Gil would be proud of.
I miss you, Gil – thank you for being my brother and sharing your good with the world.
Kevin Kutner, Field Executive
With recent national and world events in mind I sat down and thought about what I would do if I was thrust into a situation where my safety and those around me became dangerous. After a recent attack in what was, up until six months ago my home, I never really thought it could happen to me.
Never in my city. Never in my neighborhood. Never on my street.
My naivety got the best of me when an armed gunman took the lives of Dallas and DART police officers last week in downtown Dallas, Texas. I’ve spent countless hours at a park suspended over a highway in downtown. I’ve spent days and nights in museums blocks away, plenty of money on basketball games in the same area, and my fair share of brunches on patios downtown. This was my home and the home to many friends and family. My best friend lived in a high-rise 2 blocks north up until 3 weeks ago. He was in his office a few blocks away working late, as usual, when gunshots rang out. When word hit my twitter feed I was stunned. In a panic, I sent him a text, “just stay inside”.
Then an even larger cloud of uncertainty came over me. The protesters; I know them. They were my neighbors, my colleagues, and my friends. How do I make sure they are safe? How do they know what to do? This isn’t something they teach you in school. What would I do? What do you do?
While officials say the likelihood of being caught up in an attack is “very, very small”, the public is urged to follow these steps if you should hear gunshots or an explosion in your office, school, residence hall, or in public.
Run to a place of safety but only if you can.
- First consider your route. Is it safe? Will it put you in the line of fire?
- Act quickly and quietly
- Leave your belongings behind
- Insist on others coming with you
Hide if you can’t run somewhere safely.
- When looking for a hiding place, avoid dead-ends and bottlenecks
- Asses weather your hiding place will be substantially protected from gunfire
- If you’ve locked yourself in a room, barricade yourself in and move away from the door
- Stay quiet; do not shout for help
- Turn your phone onto silent and switch off vibrate
Tell the police of the attack.
- If you are able to evacuate get as far away as possible
- If it is safe to do so, try and stop others from entering
- Dial 911 and tell the operator of the location of you and the attacker(s)
- Include descriptions of your surroundings as well as if there are casualties.
- When approached by officers, keep your hands in plain sight at all times.
While this is by no means a catch-all post of what to do in the event of an attack, these steps are proven to have saved lives. You will not know what to do until it happens to you but being as proactive as possible is always a best practice. Sacred Purpose is about keeping our brothers safe and with these steps you can keep yourself, your brothers, and your community safe during a frightening situation.
*Information provided from the National Police Chiefs’ Council in the UK
The following is a personal philosophy I have adopted about life.
- Always dress well.
- Golf is one of the only sports where polos and dress pants are a norm. Only in golf do get rewarded with a jacket as a trophy. Some people may argue that such attire has no impact on play. Those people would be wrong or Rickie Fowler
- In life, dressing for success is more than just something for business meetings. How you dress is a mentality. When you put effort into your appearance, whatever it may be, you feel confident.
- Golf should never have a peak.
- Unlike other sports where players can be in their prime for only a short part of their life, golf is a sport you can play for your whole life. Don’t believe me here is the legend Jack Nicklaus at 75 still killing the game.
- When we focus on our peaks in life we see past success and compare it to our current situation. When I got to college nothing I did in high school mattered. Those achievements got me in the door and that was all. Now a college graduate, my college accomplishments don’t mean anything either. No one cares about which tier my fraternity was in or how we did in intramurals. When you graduate you can choose to have high school/college be the peak for the rest of your life or focus on your next summit.
- A far drive off the tee-box doesn’t mean a birdie
- Some golfers care too much about their drive. Go to any driving range and you will see 90% of the people there straining their backs with the newest possible driver, swinging for the fences. Meanwhile hardly any person is seen at the chipping green. Short game isn’t sexy, but it is what makes you a great golfer. Anyone who has seen the master of short game Phil Mickelson knows this to be the case.
- In life we spend too much time on what makes us look cool rather than what actually gives our lives substance. This can be illustrated by the guys who go to the gym every day to maintain that unrealistic “perfect” physique, while ignoring the growth in other areas of life. He often doesn’t study. He repeatedly neglects his responsibilities. He doesn’t aim to be promoted at his job. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger is a relentless business man who grows his brand outside of just working out. Live a well-rounded life.
- You’re going to play horrible some rounds
- In golf you will play bad. You will get a snowman on a hole. Even the best have an atrocious hole now and then. Take this Jordan Spieth meltdown for example
- Much like one bad shot can lead to another and another; bad days tend to compound themselves. This is going to happen in life. Whole months may pass where you forget what a good day feels like. Simple aspects of life like getting out of bed become a chore. But with each new day, is a new round and has the potential for the best day of your life.
- If your golf game needs help talk to someone
- When you are playing at your worst and nothing seems to be changing, it comes the time to talk to an expert. Take Tiger Woods, Rickie Fowler, and Ernie Els who have all asked for help from golf guru Butch Harmon. Even if a golfer isn’t at his worst he always has a confidant in his caddy; someone to talk to about what he is thinking and help him out.
- In life when things are going tough we often think we have to go it alone. When sadness hits us we tend to tell no one, just hoping that it will work itself out, but sometimes it doesn’t. This can provide a perfect opportunity to slip into a deeper depression. Life isn’t easy, but there are trained professionals who can always help.
- No one is as good as they say they are.
- If you have ever sat in the club house after a round of golf you will hear countless stories of amazing achievements deserving of ESPN top ten highlights. “It was raining sideways and I hit my ball out of the rough around three trees, over a lake, and past 3 sand traps to land 2 inches from the hole. True Story.”
- In life this is the equivalent of Facebook, Instagram, and snapchat. On social media we post only the great things in our lives. We see the wedding engagements but never the failed relationships. We see the smiling faces scroll across our feed and never the frowns. When we start to compare our lives to the perfectly-crafted personas we see on social media we stop striving to live our own lives.
- Every round of golf is against yourself.
- At the end of the day golf is a thrilling sport because you are always playing yourself. With each round, you are competing against your own handicap. Any great golfer will tell you that you should never look at the leader board. The moment you start playing based on someone else’s score is when you start to play your worst.
- With social media being inescapable it can be easy to get caught up in the success of those around us. We start to live life for the approval of others. Achievements no longer have meaning unless they get 100 likes. I used to have elaborate snap chat stories of my adventures in college until one day I realized that by being fixated on someone else’s impression of my personal experience I was actually missing out on my story. Put down your phones and enjoy the ride.
Finally, open your eyes, it’s a great day for a round of golf. And even if it isn’t, there’s always tomorrow.
Will Maher, Field Executive
This is the Part II of a three-part series on Music, Mental Health, and Masculinity. Be sure to check back to read parts I and III.
When I was about 14 I had a conversation with my uncle, who makes a living playing music. He asked what I listened to these days, and I told him Metal and Hardcore. Quickly, my uncle asked about a few bands, to which I replied “No I don’t like those emo bands.”
Uncle: What’s wrong with Emo bands?
Me: They just complain and are annoying.
Uncle: Isn’t Emo short for emotional?
Me: Yeah I think so…?
Uncle: Isn’t Metal and hardcore emotional?
Me: Well yeah, but it’s different…
Uncle: I don’t know; it sounds like you listen to Emo music.
I was struck by this and halfheartedly admitted to myself that he had a valid point. Of course, I shrugged it off in the moment to defend my view; citing the musicianship and lyrical content of Emo music as supporting factors in my disregard for the genre.
Where did the disregard for an entire scene of music come from? It came from my view of masculinity through the lens of a teenager.
After my going to my first concert in 7th grade (Slipknot, Lamb of God, Shadows Fall, and Trivium), my friends and I became obsessed with heavier music. The energy and passion we witnessed at the show was unlike anything we had experienced. Enormous mosh pits, screaming along to songs, head banging, fans jumping fences to get into the pit, shoes being lit on fire and thrown; it was an adrenaline fueled sea of chaos and we loved it. Perhaps if it was any other concert, we would have been set down a different path, but that day our choice had been made. We wanted more.
Naturally, we turned to YouTube to watch other Metal concerts to discover new bands. I couldn’t say when, but it got to a point where what we were listening to “wasn’t heavy enough.” We were building a tolerance for Metal and needed something stronger.
Soon we were discovering bands like The Black Dahlia Murder, Animosity, Despised Icon, Carnifex, Through The Eyes of the Dead, The Red Chord, and the list goes on. It almost became some unwritten law that if the band did any clean vocals (singing) they sucked, and Emo bands being at the forefront of this “suckage.”
We could literally pull up a band’s page and write them off simply from the 3 genre descriptions that were listed. I had come to understand and buy into the idea that listening to Emo music somehow made you weaker, or a lesser fan. I would see shirts at concerts that said “Defend Metal, Kill Emo Kids”. Metal, right?
The irony was most Metal bands preached the same kind of acceptance and understanding their Emo contemporaries did, just in a different way. It was all a means to the same end. An outlet to seek refuge from life’s turmoil, and your own insecurities. I didn’t realize it, but I was using heavy music to escape from my issues while feeling safe behind a veil of masculinity.
I love Death Metal. I still listen to it every day. I’m actually listening to Whitechapel right now. My point however is that it was easier to wear the patch of Metal with confidence, because I felt protected by what I considered to be its inherit “toughness”. I knew Emo music was the butt of many jokes, simply because they were outwardly emotional and vulnerable about very real subjects, but unfortunately, I fed into that.
Believe it or not, Metal, is equally open and emotional on similar subjects, but people have this hesitation and fear of the genre, and for whatever reason, I loved being a part of that. I felt stronger, more protected and more of a man because of the music I listened to. It was a vicious cycle, fueling both my affinity for Metal and disdain for Emo music.
During my fall into the Death Metal abyss, I caught wind of bands like Stick to Your Guns, The Ghost Inside, Have Heart, and Guns Up. These groups embodied more of Hardcore style of punk mixed with some Metal motifs and an attitude reminiscent of the PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) punk bands from the 1980’s. Not only did they preach an understanding of mental and emotional issues, but they addressed a wide range of topics like drug and alcohol abuse, racism, sexism, masculinity, and family struggles.
These bands had a defining role in my life. They helped me shatter my ignorance towards music, myself, and my identity. They question the stereotype of what it meant to be a man and opened my eyes to the fact that what you wear, what you look like, who you know, and what music you listen to has nothing to do with your ability to be a good person. I found a strength in this. I found acceptance. It wasn’t just an acceptance of the music I had previously written off, but it was an acceptance of myself, my problems, and who I was. It was an acceptance of it being okay to cry, scream, and hate the world. With them, it was okay not to ALWAYS be okay and they worked to offer solutions through their music, to light a path towards getting through these problems.
Sacred Purpose does the same thing for me. Living my life through our shared sacred purpose lets me know my brothers are there, just like music, to help me through. Shattering the idea of what it means to be a man and what it means to hold myself and others accountable is something I didn’t think music could do. Re-framing masculinity and mental health, as a ton of our chapters are doing is a good thing, and is a conversation worth having. I am proud to be a member of an organization that values health and safety just as much as it values brotherhood.
“A poor man’s poor sport we’ve fallen short of reasoning/Sex does not determine capability /But we let our hostility be our guide to decide /What’s right for a girl and for a guy/Because every sex is just as able to keep this foundation stable /Enough is enough speak up its tough but don’t think that your unable/Let acceptance be our key to unlock our integrity /From there we’ll be able to see that there’s more than just she and he”— “A Poor Man’s Poor Sport” by Stick to Your Guns
Kris Taibl, Director of Communications