Only 2 days to go! Some of my most interesting experiences have been happening these last few days of the walk. For the first weeks of the walk, it seemed that most of the people I met were women, and every woman I spoke to had a story of surviving violence. As the walk winds down, it’s men I’ve been running into. I’ve been having some wonderful conversations with them about the pressures they’ve felt to act “tough” and dominate. One man described the damage this pressure has done to his spiritual and emotional growth, and his ability to be the kind of partner he’d like to be. Another told me that he believes he would never have ended up in prison had it not been for that same pressure. And the war memorials I see in every town I pass through tell the story of the thousands of men I won’t have a chance to speak to. The toll this takes on everyone is so tremendous.
Unfortunately, most people I talk to defer their responsibility for addressing these issues to individual parents and their choices in childrearing. I think this is a dangerous response to a problem that is obviously collective, and requires a range of institutional changes extending far beyond the behavior of individual families. The good news though is that most people I speak to, male and female, do want the situation to change.