by Kieran Fouhy
One of the skills of any modern leader is to develop a camera contrition posture and know
how to apologise to a mass audience.
Those skills are needed because, with everyone striving for perfection in everything — imperfection surprisingly still occurs! As the Leonard Cohen refrain goes: “There is a crack in every-thing. It lets the light in.”
But the recent political apology for “being a man” takes “sorry” down to a new level.
Apologies used to be about the individual, delivered from the heart and a genuine attempt to heal a wrong. It was always about the other. This mass produced apology has all the hallmarks of a political statement for a mass audience in an election year.
The interesting part of the political apology of being “sorry for being a man” was that the audience cheered in approval!
In some way, David Cunliffe has tapped into a societal media vein of thinking, about hammering the male — the image of the bumbling man who can’t boil eggs, the lecherous
male lurking behind every lamppost, the drunken fool standing on the bar, the gang
patch marauder, etc.
We don’t see the articulate male violin player, the father juggling work commitments with his son’s rugby practice, or the quiet steady mentoring of young men by male teachers.
My thoughts when I heard those political words — how would parents of boys explain that statement to their sons? “I am sorry that you came into the world — a boy!” Really!
Apology for being a man is more than a silly statement. It demeans the nature of an apology and demeans the nature of being a man.
Instead of scapegoating all men,the real issue is how we educate young men to be confident, secure, respectful individuals who know how the team works, know how the world works and
how we all make life better.
Far from apologising for the maleness of half the population, politicians should talk to some of us who work with young men and who rejoice in the privilege of being able to work
with outstanding men. We are in the business of boys — through their good times and not so good times.
The phrase from Scripture often sticks in my mind: “Which of you would give your son a stone, when he asks for bread?”
Even despite the context of the political audience — the apology for being a man was simply “a stone”!
Kieran Fouhy is the headmaster of St Peter’s College, a school with 1200 young men.
He is the father of five daughters.