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A Reflection on Martin Luther King Jr. Day – the New Warrior and cultural change.
by Boysen Hodgson

“Agape is more than romantic or aesthetic love. Agape is more than friendship. Agape is creative, understanding, redemptive good will for all men. It is an overflowing love that seeks nothing in return. Theologians would say that this is the love of God operating in the human heart. When one rises to love on this level, he loves every man. He rises to the point of loving the person who does the evil deed while hating the deed that the person does. I believe that this is the kind of love that can carry us through this period of transition. This is what we’ve tried to teach through this nonviolent discipline.” ~ December 18, 1963, the Speech at WMU

One of the core values of the ManKind Project is Multicultural Awareness, often referred to as inclusiveness, or more simply, as diversity. It is something we strive for personally and institutionally, a value that we believe in and that we have dedicated significant resources to. We have created and offer a number of trainings directly addressing the ‘isms and issues’ that stand in the way of effective cross-cultural connection and partnership.
We integrate, at the highest levels of the organization, tools to create a safe dialogue that distinguishes multiple levels of communication and bridges the gap between differing belief systems. We don’t try to use a hammer to cut glass. We don’t try to use Interpersonal Conflict Resolution to solve Institutional or Cultural Problems – but we strongly recognize how personal and interpersonal issues impact our Institutions and our Culture. Learning to hear, recognize, and act from a place of multiple intelligences has revolutionized our work, and has forever changed the lives of thousands of men.
We pursue this value, and continue to integrate it into every aspect of the organization by creating spaces where men and women have the opportunity to engage ideas about the ‘other’ and simultaneously examine their own lives and the circumstances they were born into, or grew into. For many of us it means seeing clearly the many privileges we have, and letting go of illusions about ‘rugged individualism’ that have so hindered our society from making significant gains in equality and human rights. We meet men where they are in their lives and invite them to take a step, and then another, toward self-awareness, integrity, responsibility and emotional authenticity.
It is in our circles, through personal connection, that we begin to see and feel the weight of the systems and structures that function to keep some in places of power and others without it. When we connect with one another with our hearts, eyes and ears open, the fog lifts and our fears lessen. The illusion of us and them fades. We begin to see how each of us, in so many ways, are the same. We also see, in jarring reality, how deeply embedded systems privilege some over others. And it is through brotherhood that we develop the trust and commitment to make a difference, personally, institutionally and culturally.
Martin Luther King Jr. is beloved as a hero in the United States, and yet the significance of his message — the vision that he held for our culture to awaken from a poverty of mind and love — are far from realized. To awaken, we must look into the shadowy depths of both personal suffering and systemic injustice, and develop the right tools to heal both. Taking full responsibility for ourselves and the realities of our world, as ‘New Warriors’, means that it becomes harder and harder to ‘stay asleep’, to blind ourselves to the suffering of others and the systems that create it.

“It is simply this, that through our scientific genius, we have made of this world a neighborhood. Now through our ethical and moral commitment, we must make of it a brotherhood. We must all learn to live together as brothers or we will perish together as fools. This is the great challenge of the hour. This is true of individuals. It is true of nations. No individual can live alone. No nation can live alone.”

In the ManKind Project, we acknowledge Martin Luther King Jr. as an example of the ‘New Warrior’, someone willing to stand on the cutting edge of risk, fear and change, and take powerful action to create a better world for all of us. It’s going to take a vast army of ‘New Warriors’ to create a sustainable and just world. The men of the ManKind Project are part of that army, and we have spent the last 27 years helping men wake up to a purpose beyond themselves, a unifying reason for being, as Martin Luther King Jr. did. We invite you to join us, to work with us as partners and collaborators, in making the dream more real for our children and grandchildren.

Boysen Hodgson

Boysen Hodgson is the Communications and Marketing Director for the ManKind Project USA, a nonprofit mentoring and training organization that offers powerful opportunities for men’s personal growth at any stage of life. Boysen received his BA with Honors from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, after completing 2 years of Design coursework at Cornell University. He has been helping companies and individuals design the change they wish to see in the world for 15 years. He’s a dedicated husband.

– is a deeply personal issue that everyone decides for himself. Sometimes the price is high, sometimes low. But this is not very important for life. Life is an interesting thing. And the price on Viagra – too.