Proclaimed international days make me smile, stop and wonder. There is seemingly a day for everything – as if, unless the United Nations draws our attention to this thing once a year, we may not appreciate it in the fullness of its glory.
This week, for example, we have World Philosophy Day on November 16: a day on which UNESCO says we can “honour the enduring value of philosophy for the development of human thought, for each culture and for each individual”. It is certainly something to think about.
In addition, we have strange bedfellows sharing November 19: it is both World Toilet Day and International Men’s Day. The mind boggles. Toilet humour aside, this is the week when we should ponder the positive value men bring to the world.
International Women’s Day gets a lot of attention, even in this nation where so much is now fair and equal. There are breakfasts, a colour theme, speeches and signage. International Men’s Day barely rates a mention, but it is important to take opportunities for positivity and praise.
These are our husbands, sons, fathers, brothers and friends, after all. There are many downsides to being a bloke. They are far more likely to be victims of violence, they suicide at triple the rate of women, and they suffer lung cancer and heart disease at twice the rate of females.
They are much more likely to be diagnosed with behavioural disorders and learning disabilities. They are more likely to drop out of school, are injured more often and die younger. But I also think the modern man is a wonder to behold. He can be tender as well as tough, he is more likely to share the load at home, contribute a tempered perspective and, as a practical benefit, be stronger and faster.
I, for one, am grateful for the maleness of the good men in my life. The talk about ‘toxic masculinity’ needs to be balanced with ‘male positivity’ – being affirming and optimistic about men. For society to advance towards true equity, it helps if men are not constantly told how horrid they are. We have to resist talking about all men as being hopeless, and the idea that all men are intrinsically emotionless, violent or sexist. They are not.
We are all spinning on this big, blue ball together. Mutual respect and admiration make the journey much more enjoyable.