Over the last couple of weeks, along with our other rotating Role Model Speakers, I've been visiting our sessions, telling my life/love story and reminding each group of boys about the gift of time and love they are receiving from their mentors. Both have been well received because for a couple of months the amazing men of the Silverback Society have demonstrated unconditional acceptance, patience and commitment to our boys, many of whom have not experienced any of the above from full grown men.
So now, all that we have been teaching begins to take on credence in their hearts as well as their minds. They are beginning to believe what they have been taught, and their attitudes and behaviors begin to shift, not from discipline, but from “faith” borne of the indisputable evidence presented in the examples of successful happy caring men in their midst... and their stories that reinforce the value of our Seven Silverback Ways as a means of having a peaceful and prosperous life. We prove that living right is how you get to have a really nice life and be proud of who you are (man swag).
So this morning I was taken aback by a contentious religious debate among my social media family which made me reflect on our Silverback Society official policy to never discuss religion when we gather or in our sessions with the boys. But what prompted me to write was the realization that our work with boys promotes a morality and living model that is the core of most religious teachings about how to live. I had to smile because my personal faith is that we have rules to help us survive and thrive, so if you come up with a code of conduct to allow human beings to coexist in peace and prosperity that code of conduct would be what we call morality and lifestyles in which children have the resource and emotional support of their parents.
So when full grown men talk about how they met, courted, married well and then raised happy successful children, many of our boys eyes are opened to an opportunity for fulfillment they may never have considered without the proof standing before them. These are not fairy tales, but real life, undeniable truth about a way to insure their children don't repeat the neglect, emotional pain and anger they have had to to endure, becoming a man able and willing to raise and support children. We often challenge rightfully angry and upset boys to channel their anger into such a determination and the look in their eyes communicates them picking up the gauntlet.
So while we cannot bring religion into the classroom, we can bring wizened elders who can prove the value of a well lived life... after they hang around for a while.