Last year, after the Paris attacks, I wrote this note to some friends:
I know we are all feeling a little heavy tonight because of what happened in Paris earlier. I know our hearts are with those who are hurting.
And I can't stop thinking about the perpetrators, too. So far, what I've read is not surprising - 3 of them have been confirmed to be young men. I think of all the young men I have taught (including a few years working with young offenders) - they are the most beautiful souls and I know these boys were, too.
One of the prevailing myths is that these young guys are just predisposed to violence - full of testosterone etc.. Not true - testosterone does a lot of things - good things!- but it does not make men want to kill other human beings.
The truth is that boys are (in general) much more sensitive than girls. Sensitive not as in sentiment but sensitive constitutionally. Physically-boy babies die more often in utero, they die more in childbirth, they suffer more early childhood diseases, they have a lower pain threshold - and they are more quick to become hardened in response to emotional overwhelm (which is what happens when emotion has no expression).
I know many (all?) of you have little boys in your life and I am not worried about them at all - they are in good hands. But there's a good chance that over the years you are going to encounter many of their friends, classmates, etc - and also a good chance that you will deal with some teenage boy heartache at some point. (And you might even find some of what I share insightful re: other men in your life.)
Would be interested if I did a recording all about boys and emotion and sensitivity and how to help keep our boys soft?
In the face of such an event it can be easy to dehumanize the perpetrators - but I believe strongly that the way forward is to humanize them. xox Lianne
Below is a slightly modified version of the recording I did for them. It's about boys, but really it's about all of us. Humans are sensitive, it's one of the greatest things about us. Let's nurture it.
And another great thing to watch on this topic is Tony Porter's TED talk about the man box: