TV and film director Otto Bathurst, whose credits include Peaky Blinders and Hustle discusses the challenges faced by modern men.

I’ve lived in Somerset for seven years – the last two of them in Bath – having moved here from London, where I grew up. I work as a film and television director and am married with three young kids.

Like many, I have found the challenges of being a man complicated and confusing. What is a man? A friend? A father? A lover? A bread-winner? A DIY expert? A know-it-all? Or a useless couch potato?

It’s tricky. We are told to be this, forced to be that. We have been taught to be tough, to cope, to bear the weight, to be brave, not to cry, to soldier on. And so we do, we take all of this on and we muddle through; silently, stoically. We put on the coat of armour and the masks, we build the fortress, create the image and we head out in to the world – blindly making it up as we go along.

And how are we getting on? What does the picture look like?

Cancer mortality rates have increased by 23% in men in the last 30 years and cancer kills 50% more men than it does women. The amount of alcohol we drink has more than doubled since the 1950s and men are three times more likely to become alcohol dependant than women. The list goes on; our consumption of coffee is increasing by 13% each year, one in four men are obese, men are three times more likely to be drug abusers than women, men make up 95% of the prison population.

2013-06-14-Father-and-Baby-HandsThe picture is even bleaker when we look at the next generation. Boys are three times more likely to be expelled from school than girls, boys are achieving 15% lower in their grades than girls. And perhaps the most shocking of all . . . suicide is the most common form of death in men under the age of 35. A horrific fact made all the worse when we consider the thousands of other men behind that statistic, living in the darkest depression.

Yet, while all this goes on, we work longer and longer hours, striving to own a bigger house, a faster car, a slimmer iPhone. We disappear ever deeper into our hobbies, screens and social media. We consume ever more knowledge and news. We numb ourselves in front of the TV or a pint.

We constantly look to our peers and friends for affirmation and recognition. Anything to give our lives meaning. The modern man is at sea – a rudderless shipwreck.

The oft-trotted-out causes of the problem are, in my opinion missing the point and as long as we continue to blame, for example, the ‘rise’ of the female, our parents, or the fact that none of us actually know what ‘metrosexual’ means, nothing is going to change!

Big problems require a big vision to see the whole picture. In the last few years I have been listening to the inspiring presentations of an amazing man called Serge Benhayon who has helped me begin to understand the root of the issue in myself, and recognise it in many others.

All men are at their core, extremely sensitive, fragile and tender beings who are leading lives, living in worlds and building relationships that totally and utterly bury this gold. It is this gold that we miss, that we crave. We know the lives that we are living are in fact a lie, a pretence, a front and every excess that we indulge in – whether it be work, food, depression, alcohol or whatever – is a desperate attempt to fill the emptiness that we all feel at living this lie. And it is, literally, killing us.

By listening to other men and by allowing myself to express the honesty of what I feel, I have been shocked by what I am beginning to unearth in myself and deeply inspired by what I have seen in others. I can feel a joy and purpose, far outstripped by anything else I have ever pursued, through re-connecting to this truth and am now, for the first time in my life beginning to understand what a man actually is.

Caleb-DadWhile I accept that society makes it very hard for men to live this way, one of the many pearls that the modern day philosopher, Serge Benhayon has offered is that we have to acknowledge the fact that we are the creators of our own society and that society is a direct reflection of the choices we are all making. So, the responsibility for our society actually lies at our own doors – as does the catalyst for change.

Thus, is it in fact up to us men to claim who we really are? Is it up to us to be honest about what we want, to admit to what hurts us and to have the courage to wear our hearts on our sleeves, to bare our insecurities and to express our fragility?

It may seem scary. It may seem a leap too far. It may feel too late. But nothing is scarier, more shackling and more final than the depression that so many men live with.

What’s more and what surely sharpens our sense of responsibility is that the world, our partners, our colleagues and our children are all craving the true version of a man.

My wife doesn’t want a broad-shouldered, bread-winning, sex-god. My wife wants a husband who has the courage to express the truth, the tenderness to not judge and who is committed to nurturing a loving and evolving relationship.

My kids don’t want a giant who mends their toys, cheers them from the touch-line and imparts his knowledge across the kitchen table. They want an honest dad who listens, who allows them to find life tricky and who inspires them to love themselves even more than he loves them.

My friends don’t want bravado, quick wit and a drinking partner. They want a loyal soul who treats them with absolute equality no matter what they show me and who celebrates the gorgeous man that they don’t show the rest of the world.

To be able to be any of the above I have to be honest. I have to be open. I have to be fragile.

In short I have to be the real me; no tricks, masks or special skills. Just simple, beautiful me.

That takes immense courage, and that, in my book, is the mark of a true man and it is the kind of man that I am now inspired to be; the man who can peel back the layers, knock down the fortresses and reveal the absolute gold that has been waiting patiently, ever since we were the gorgeous little boys that we all still are.

* Inspired by Serge Benhayon and the teachings of Universal Medicine.
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