Thurman, Committee Hearings and Authentic Masculinity

From Daily Meditations with Matthew Fox

Watching the committee hearings on Tuesday that revealed the suffering that January 6 wrought not just on our country but on the individual policemen that defended it bravely was sobering indeed. And also inspiring.

Four police officers who defended the Capitol against the January 6 insurrection speak of their physical and mental trauma in the first select committee hearing, July 26, 2021. Video by POLITICO

To hear the stories of these four men who stood up to grave danger of life and limb and to racist attacks as well as physical ones was a moment in education of what healthy masculinity is all about. Their courage and their honor in sticking to their jobs to protect lawmakers and thereby the Constitution and democracy was an education for all.

As Howard Thurman puts it:

That to which man is committed must be of such importance and of such supreme worth to him that in exchange for this sharing his life, his physical existence is of no consequence.

That kind of courage was on display on January 6 and called up again on Tuesday on live television for all to see and learn from.

In contrast, while these men were sharing honestly Tuesday morning their pain and the truth of what we all saw on videos of January 6, there were male politicians, buttressed by some female ones, who stood in front of the DOJ and lied again about the very causes of the assault on the American capitol.

Protestors interrupt the Greene/Gaetz press conference on the treatment of detained January 6 insurrectionists. Video by The Hill. 

And others, so-called leaders of their party, ran from journalists questioning them in the Capitol building rather than face questioning. They eventually confessed to not even watching the hearings where the very men who protected their lives that day recounted risking laying down their own lives.

Howard Thurman addresses this matter when he writes that a deeper and more integrated action results from a surrender to the creative God:

Clips from videos shown at the February Senate impeachment trial show officer Eugene Goodman directing Sen. Mitt Romney to safety and decoying the insurrectionists from legislators’ location. Video by TODAY.

The surrender of the self at its center gives to the life a new basis for action. It provides an integrated basis for action. Here at last man has a core of purpose for his life and for his living. Here one finds a robust vitality that quickens the roots of personality creating an unfolding of the self that refines, reshapes and makes all things new…. The individual knows that what is happening to him can outlast all things without itself being dissipated or lost.

What a pity that “robust vitality” and courage and manliness are so wanting by so many politicians in our day who have clearly not found a “core purpose for their lives” (beyond hungering after power and reelection of course). An inner life is wanting.

From the four policemen we all observed magnanimity in action.  Thomas Aquinas holds the virtue of magnanimity in very high esteem. Without courage and a large soul, nothing great gets accomplished. We honor these policemen for their magnanimity and their commitment to their vocations and for reminding us what real masculinity is all about. It is about serving a good cause larger than oneself. It is about courage and love of truth overcoming pettiness and fear and lies. That is spiritual warriorhood. Thank you for your example.

(From left) Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, officers Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges of the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police, and Capitol Police Pfc. Harry Dunn are sworn in at the first day of the Capitol Assault Select Committee hearing. Photo captured from House footage

Matthew Fox, “Howard Thurman: A Creation-Centered Mystic,” Creation Spirituality, March/April 1991, p. 9.

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