Building Bridges to our Brothers
The Surgeon General has identified the most dangerous thing affecting men. It’s not cancer. It’s not heart-disease. It is – ready for it – isolation.
What? Yeah I know right? Isolation.
But we’re talking about the Surgeon General and he isn’t the only one talking about it. Dr. Richard Schwartz who teaches psychiatry at Harvard Medical school has written a book, along with Jacqueline Olds, entitled The Lonely American. In it he discusses that problem of isolation grows greater as men grow older:
“Beginning in the 1980s study after study started showing that those who were more socially isolated were much more likely to die during a given period than their socially connected neighbors, even after you corrected for age, gender, and lifestyle choices like exercising and eating right. Loneliness has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, strokes as well as the progression of Alzheimer’s.”
If isolation is the problem then relationships are the solution. Maybe you’re thinking, like me: ‘No, problem, I’m not isolated. I’ve have a significant other, children, co-workers – I’m good.” Not so fast. These are all good- obviously, but the study identifies that men are isolated on man-island. That is to say, even if we have significant relationships in our lives, we lack friendships – meaningful friendships with other men. Again, if you’re like me your first thought is, Pshhtt I have friends…there’s Dude X and then there’s Bro Y and that Guy Z who went on the fishing trip with me two years ago. I have friends.” Yeah, when is the last time you spent any time with them? Hmmm. When is the last time you shared your life and its inherent struggles with them? Yeah, me neither.
That is the antidote to the death-dealing isolation that we men face. The studies indicate that we need other masculine souls who understand what it means to walk as a man in this day and age. We need brothers in arms to fight the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that we face.
Studies also indicate that men are not very good at scheduling time to hang out with their friends. That’s understandable; there is so much going: families to raise, careers to maintain, etc. But this is important. We are stronger together. Together we become better husbands, fathers, sons, brothers, and -of course- friends.
Maybe a good place to start is to agree to meet at least once a month with your personal band of brothers. I know a good venue: hand-made cigars and expert espresso at Tabanero Cigars. Let’s start building a bridge to connect to our brothers.