Real men show love and compassion

September 23, 2016
James
Guidance counsellor Jacqueline Whilby attends to John Wilson, goalkeeper for the St George's College football team, and schoolmate Leonardo Cunningham on Wednesday, at the thanksgiving devotion for the life of the school's football captain, Dominic James, who died on Tuesday.
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The death of St George’s College's Manning Cup captain, Dominic James, on Tuesday was heartbreaking.

In a time when Jamaica is losing so many young talents to crime and migration, to see this young man, who is from all reports a good student, collapsing and dying doing something good, something he loved, was horrendous.

Arising from the youngster’s death were a number of issues surrounding the safety of the nation’s student athletes. Chief among them was the unrealistic call for there to be an ambulance at every schoolboy match.

It is unrealistic because there are some days when there are as many as 55 matches are being played simultaneously, and Jamaica doesn’t have 55 ambulances to spare.

But that’s not what I want to talk about today. When news of the youngster’s death reached the ears of his teammates and opponents from Excelsior High School, there was an overwhelming outpouring of emotion. I saw players hug other players passionately. I saw players hold their rivals close while rubbing a comforting hand over their heads. I saw players hug coaches and coaches hugging back.

Compassionate

That was very heartwarming for me because it shows that we have the ability to be compassionate. It’s only a pity we seem incapable of being this compassionate outside of when there are tragedies like this.

In normal times, you would never see young men hug each other with such vigour because they have been socialised otherwise. We have taught our young men to be cold and uncaring. We have taught them that showing true emotion is a sign of weakness. We have taught them that showing love is only for women.

But, on Tuesday, all those teachings were proven to be without foundation because there they were crying openly, hugging in support and welcoming support. And see, today, there are not gay nor are they any less male than they were on Tuesday.

It took the death of Dominic James to demonstrate that you can be male, human and compassionate all at the same time. And when it happens. it can be a beautiful thing to behold.

However, until we can come to that realisation though and re-programme the way our minds currently work, our young men will continue to suppress their emotions and their true feelings, driving the frustration that leads to the violent outbursts we tend to sometime see among our young people, especially among our young men.

I understand the peer pressure that makes kids behave the way they do. I understand the pressure fathers, and in many instances, mothers put on their sons to be ‘macho’. I get it. I see it around me everyday - grown men afraid to show emotions when the situation calls for it. This is the way they have been since childhood.

As I have matured, I have come to see that the way the world influences you can have a profound effect on who you eventually become. I have also come to know that all the negative influences that you were exposed to as a child, can be overcome by simply engaging your mind and enforcing change on one’s self.

That transformation can start at any age, and I hope in Dominic James’ death these young men will now see that compassion, tears and demonstrations of love don’t make you a lesser man. It actually makes you a real man.

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