Formerly only seen in a ragged sweatsuit on the side of the soccer field, gesturing wildly at the ref and screaming instructions to his daughter’s team, Soccer Dad now focuses his steely attention on those people who endanger his kid’s health by releasing toxic pollution into our air.
EcoNinjaWarriorDad has a mean green streak. He’s holding a can of whoop-ass, and he’s looking coal power right in the eye.
If you’ve been reading Natural Papa lately, then you already know about my attempts to get dads and moms engaged in speaking up in support of clean air. It’s been an interesting process – both in terms of my own political engagement and activism, and in terms of seeing somewhat of a gender divide across the issues of environmentalism, the green movement, and healthy living topics.
On the one hand, I see many men who are pretty darn engaged with their kids – they’re at sports practice, they volunteer at schools, they bring their kids to their own work with them and sit through endless music lessons – the men make great stay at home parents, strong fathers, and are incredibly vested in doing the right thing for their kids when it comes to issues which affect them.
On the other hand, I see the tendency in the media to associate being concerned about the state of our environment (or anything having a ‘green’ theme) as a woman’s issue – or that it’s considered feminine to care about the health of our children, or the critters or the trees or the air we breathe or the water we need every day in order just to stay alive.
There’s an enormous community of green moms on the web, writing about anything from natural home care products to growing your own food to caring for your children, all in a way which is the least harmful to their family and to the resources of this planet (we only have one, so let’s don’t sqaunder it, ok?)
I don’t think there really is a gender divide on the issue, as I know plenty of men who care about their kid’s health, who are green or natural or ‘granola’, but I think the tendency is to play along with it, and to not be publicly vocal about the issues, for whatever the reason. I don’t see very many fathers writing about being a green dad (hence the birth of this site), and I don’t see the interest.
But why couldn’t a dad be a warrior for his family and kids through taking on monsters where they live – in the courthouses and committee rooms and the senate floor and the offices of the CEOs and on the web (where we get an opportunity to hold them publicly accountable)?
Why couldn’t a man go to war for his family’s health, not in a physical manner, but with the same strategies and intent as with a physical enemy? We probably all harbor the same intention and belief down inside us that as men that we would “defend the family” when needed, whether we’ve actually put ourselves in physical danger before or not.
To my view, it seems more important for a father to prepare for a battle of activism and political advocacy – to actually skirmish with the opposite side, to get blooded and then come back to learn to walk the path of the warrior – than it is to maintain the belief that we’re going to be able to actually physically defend our family if that time comes.
To me, it’s about being in the now. It’s about doing what you can now, as a masculine force in the world, as a leader and a teacher and a coach and a boss and a man, to stand in front of your family and say “Enough is enough”. To hold accountable both the regulatory bodies in our government and the companies who are contaminating our commonly shared air and water with toxic pollution which is harmful to human health.
Here’s what I’m asking of you:
If you’re a woman, have a conversation with your man around what he feels about the warrior (or EcoNinjaWarrior, if you like) role as it relates to his family’s health and wellbeing. Leave me a comment about how that went.
If you’re a man, please leave me a comment relating how you feel about my idea of taking on a bigger role as a health/eco/intellectual/activist warrior.
If you already consider yourself a warrior, and there’s no sense pussyfooting around the issue, then come stop by the Clean Air dojo and join forces with the Moms Clean Air Force. We’re fighting for strong clean air regulations for power plants – some of which are pumping out poisonous waste – and we need more hands on board.
Image: hill.josh at Flickr