Two new and very lovely additions to my ever expanding support network and new found family took me out last night. We went somewhere I wouldn’t necessarily have gone on my own before.
I can say I am very glad that I did.
While I have been to a few suburban Salvation Army Services this one was very different. I like the way they are tailored to suit their audience and for a new comer it makes for a more inviting and comfortable feel when making the decision to attend. I would say that I still consider myself agnostic and not sure whether I will change my views in the future but I am willing to keep an open mind. I sometimes wonder if that’s because I am stubborn and I made up my mind years ago but I do like a lot of what they stand for and I do plan on adopting a lot of their ideals to my day to day. I like that it’s more about the acceptance of others and the willingness to help someone in need for no apparent reason as it’s the right thing to do.
Changing peoples opinions or having them ‘change sides’ in a sense doesn’t to me feel like it comes into it at all and I am yet to see a lot of negative to their approach. Don’t get me wrong I’m sure there is somewhere within Salvation Army a history which doesn’t paint them in the best light but like everything I’m sure there have been a few ‘bad eggs’ who may have tried to ruin it for the rest. However on a whole my experience has been a positive one so far.
The one thing that stood out to me about last night was the sea of ‘lost boys’. This experience reminds me of the story Peter Pan, the lost boys desperately wanted the love and care of a mother. I wonder if this place was like that mother for these young men? Have they found their ‘Wendy’?
Majority of them were from the local drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre. You would think that due to their age which was predominately late teens and early 20’s that it would be a place for them to slack off or sneak off as they may have done in the past. Instead they seemed to embrace their new found sense of community. With having a new safe place for them to feel a part of also seemed to come with a willingness to reach out to others who may feel as they once did.
It seemed that in recent times one of them sadly had fallen victim to suicide. The loss and grief was apparent. I would say stereotypically young men of their age wouldn’t be known for their insight especially when it comes to their own thoughts, feelings and emotions. It was however more than just a pat on the shoulder they offered one another. Beautifully they offered an unbrace and they genuinely asked the question of each other, ‘are you ok?’. Young men were taking the initiative, although having their own shortcomings to reach out to each other. Even putting their own phone numbers on social media with a simple message of, ‘if you ever feel like it’s too much and that no one is there for you contact me day or night’. This is probably a message never given to them until finding this place. The fact that the message of ‘pay it forward’ was something they have taken from their experiences was amazing to watch. I wonder if the willingness to help others in a similar situation predominantly comes after experiencing hardships and grief personally. Should we forgive the masses for turning a blind eye at times because it’s as simple as they just don’t know what it feels like, therefore harder for them to see the reality and brutality of our personal situations?
Either way it was a beautiful thing to be a witness too. Rather than go with previous stereotypes and continue the outdated thought that men don’t cry, they have no feelings and no emotions. That their purpose in life is just one of rescuing damsels in distress was not one these men cared to embrace here. I often wonder if that line of thinking has a lot to do with statistics such as 2016 tragically having the highest suicide rate in 10 years in young Australian men?
When it comes to domestic violence could this outdated thought and expectation of men be the reason for a lot of the violence? Could it be the frustration that they cannot feel and that there are not really a lot of places for them to go to work out what’s wrong be a huge part? Why do we laugh at the fact that men can also be the victims of domestic violence? Even I have been guilty of thinking similar thoughts. Domestic violence is more than just physical and I think that the mental abuse does more damage than the physical. A punch in the face is what it is. It tells you ‘I want you to feel pain’ and you do. There is no reading between the lines, it’s to the point. When someone uses manipulation and other forms of violence it causes you to become scared and read between the lines. A lot of the times it is a crazy story with little to no physical evidence to it so showing someone is hard to do and you get dismissed a lot. This one is I would say the one that woman predominantly use when it comes to domestic and family violence.
Not all domestic violence is physical and mind games can be just as damaging.
Like those lost boys I want to pay it forward and change the way things are done.
Because it’s the right thing to do!!!