How is Australian masculinity different from the rest of the world and why the name Hearts and Hands? To answer the former, the principles are the same the world over. There are only differences between masculinity in Australia and that of abroad in the finer details which will be explored at a later date. To the latter, the name Hearts and Hands is inspired by a line of the Australian national anthem.
"Beneath our radiant Southern Cross we'll toil with hearts and hands to make this Commonwealth of ours renowned of all the lands"
There could hardly be a more appropriate name for an Australian men’s movement. All at once it captures the the duality of the Australian character which I call soft hearts and hard hands. At the same time it is a mandate to toil with hearts and hands - to make our nation renowned on the world stage and establish for ourselves a place in the global order of things. Of course, the pioneering is finished, but there is still nation building work to be done. It would be selfish of our generation and the generations that we raise up to not continue to build upon the foundation laid by our forbears.
The starting point of continuing this work, however, lies within each one of us. Our world - that is our individual sphere - is an outworking of our inward selves. Our decisions and our actions often have a greater influence in the world around us than we care to imagine. Therefore, it is a decision that we make deep down as to whether our influence is for better or for worse. If our decision is to influence the world around us for the better, we use our hands to work, to build, to create and to help up (as opposed to hand out), and we use our heart to guide them in doing so. If our decision is for the worse, and there are many reasons why many men choose this path, then we use our hands to tear down, steal and destroy whilst our heart is hardened to all that is good and decent. Though it must be stated that occasionally the world or circumstances make this decision for us. Witnessing or experiencing violence, abuse, illness or tragedy can lead to bitterness, anger and harm which influence our spheres for the worse. However, most are self aware enough and have the capacity to make the decision to influence the world around them for the better despite their circumstances. It is by no measure an easy task but can be done nonetheless.
For most, modern life is demonstrably led in ease. The conveniences and luxuries that we enjoy, however, introduce a new threat to masculinity. This is not to say that it is unmanly to use convenient household appliances or heated car seats, but it is to say that comfort will inevitably erode resilience. Every so often life throws discomfort into our otherwise comfortable lives and if caught off guard it can shake our lives or at worst turn them upside down. Famines, natural disasters, war, diseases and violence among other unpleasantness were features of everyday life for our ancestors. The unpleasantness of our own lives features lost remotes, slow internet and lattes that are too cold for our sophisticated palates. The strength of a civilisation is the sum total strength of its men. At this rate, there is the decline of a civilisation on the horizon. Unless of course we take action, get strong, take risks, compete with each other, become well acquainted with discomfort and, in the words of Rudyard Kipling, “meet with triumph and defeat and treat those two impostors all the same”.
The men who built the nation of Australia did so in hard conditions, on untamed land and in an often hostile environment. Their lives and their work laid the foundation for ours and the relay of history is passed to us to continue the race. The most important job a man will ever do is raise up other men who are capable of taking the relay and running. In order to do that we must learn how to run ourselves. And therein lays our mission.
The strength of a civilisation is the sum total strength of its men.