Two things I don’t get… One that makes sense

There are two things I don’t get, and I come across them occasionally, primarily because I spend at least two and a half hours per day commuting to work.  Both are things that I’ve noticed on peoples’ cars.

 

First of all, I’ve got a bit of a bias against bumper stickers.  I figure that there are cheaper and better ways to advertise or communicate your message than on your car.  After all, it’s a car not a bill board right?  No, I’m not talking about the stickmen families (although, I’m not sure if I get that either.)   Have you seen the “Jesus fishes”?  They are symbols that the New Testament churches used (it was in the shape of a fish, and it referred to the word “fish”).

“The meaning of the word and symbol is very clever. The word ichthys means fish in Greek, but the letters are also the initials of five Greek words that mean “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior” (Iesous Christos Theou Yios Soter).”  Sometimes this symbol was used to help persecuted Christians to secretly know where meetings would be held.

 

I get it.  It’s an evangelism tool, kind of.  What I don’t get are the “Jesus Fish” with the legs at the bottom.  It’s really an expression of Darwinism and evolution, is it not?   I can understand extreme passion of modern day Christians who would opt to place this symbol on their cars, but why would you put a “Jesus Fish” with legs?  At least a Christian’s passion is about God, and Christ and faith and devotion…

 

What possible passion and fanaticism could one have about Darwin?  Sure, they may have an inkling for what they believe is truth, but is there no other warmer or more emotional truth?  Who do you thank for a new born baby, or a nice summer day?  Darwin?

 

What about the second thing?

 

Well, I almost have to blush to even mention it.  You may not see them often, but have you seen the trucks where individuals have put well… male scrotum underneath their vehicles?   I’m not even sure where one buys this type of truck accessory.  I’m not sure I want to know.  (I’m not sure if it’s as bad as those cars with eyelashes on their headlights.)

 

But, really??

With the much needed discussion of what it means to be a man, and what is masculine, and what is manly…I’ll tell you this; it’s not a truck. Being masculine, and being a man may not always be the same thing, but I can guarantee this… a truck is not a man.  It’s ridiculous, it’s border line offensive (as a man) and mostly weird.  Sorry, that’s just the way I feel.

 

Now, being a “Genesis Man” man is the recognition that the core of what we are (men) revolve around the concept of relationship: relationship with God, relationship with people, and relationship with the environment.

 

One thing I do get, that has nothing to do with vehicle paraphernalia, is the solution to much of the problems plaguing young men and men.  It’s Mentorship.  Mentorship is a key element in relationship, and it flows out of the idea of the importance of relationships as noted in Genesis 2.

 

 

The Young Men’s Summit is less than a week away, it’s this Saturday May 23, 2015 from 1-4 PM!  Mentorship, employment and motivation will be our key area of focus and discussion.

 

This year there will be a forum discussion involving four special guests: Esrick Quintyn, Chudie Asidianya, Hugh Keane, and Mervin Dixon.

 

I’d love for you to be there to join this discussion.

 

Please email < menandmaleyouthalliance@gmail.com> and let me know you will be attending, if I don’t know already -I would like to make sure that we have enough lunch for everyone.  You could also fill in the form at the end of the Blog.

 

 

Lastly, from this Summit we will be creating the Durham Mentorship Employment Network.  More information will follow.

 

See you there.

 

Israel

 

The Wire, Violence, Sex and Drugs…

What’s happening in Baltimore?  Right now, it’s more complicated than this blog could possibly explain…

 

However, Baltimore was also popularized with the rendering of the 2002 – 2008 HBO television cop show called “The Wire”.  To be truthful, this is not a show that I would recommend.  There were incredible amounts of profanity, violence, sex and drug use.  Interestingly enough though, the use of profanity, violence, sex and drug use (depicted in the series) are symptomatic to the desperate social, economic conditions of perhaps “any given Sunday” inner city environment.  I’m guessing that the producer opted in creating a realistic, raw, adult representation of what things really look like.  (It’s not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure.)

 

The viewer realizes very quickly that every character is more than just flawed, and they are great distances from perfection.  As a matter of fact, there are equal opportunities of corruption, and genuine bad stuff portrayed by men and women, gay and straight characters, politicians and citizens, cops and criminals.  There is no one who is good.  The moral line is shaded and elusive.   The “good guys” aren’t always good, and the “bad guys” aren’t always bad.   Moral relativism rules the day like the t-rex hero of Jurassic Park (the first one, which incidentally was the best.)

 

One consistent observation I noticed was the lack of fathers.  (It was glaringly obvious during a heart breaking Season Four which focussed on education, following a group of young male characters and there descent into manhood.)    Mind you, there were plenty of male influences, but many of them were bad, and few were good.   The critical mass of positive male influences was critically low.   (I wonder if the lack of direct fathering, positive direct fathering,  is not the greater issue in these circumstances.)

 

We need an army of men to lead our sons and mentor the fatherless into authentic manhood and masculinity which focuses on relationships in three realms:  relationship with God, relationship with people, and relationship with their environment.

 

Relationship with environment refers to the reality in Genesis chapter 2 that God made purpose and work for Adam (the first male prototype).    God created the “garden” before He created the man.  God had every intention for Adam to take a “tending” role in his environment.

 

Purpose.  Meaning.  Employment.  Spiritual Relationship.   (They seem to be lacking at times.)  Are these our Achilles heel?  Does this lack account for some of the failure amoung men and emerging men encounter?

 

Fast forward to Baltimore.   The issues are real, deep and complicated, but I feel that taking up more responsibility of mentorship and leadership as men must be at least one of the keys to the solution.

 

In The Wire, does art imitate reality, or  is it the other way around?  It’s debateable, but here is an interesting conclusion…

 

Despite the language, sex, drug use and societal despair, in the end, the earthly hopelessness of our insurmountable social problems can find optimism in the divine, within relationship with Jesus Christ.

(Kind of a weird thing to take away from the show… eh?)

 

This is the last comment:

 

Saturday May 23, 2015 the Men’s Group at Erie Street Gospel Centre will be hosting our 3rd annual “Young Men’s Summit.”   (in Oshawa at 17 Erie Street, 1-4 PM)   The focus will be on Mentorship, Employment and Purpose.  Join us as we engage in a conversation with our special forum guests.

Please register at themenandmaleyouthalliance@gmail.com or call 905-433-1438 -as a free lunch will be provided.

 

Sincerely,

 

Israel

A Life Changing White Building

Erie Street Gospel Centre is a white building on an obscure street in South Oshawa.  It has, however, been a significant catalyst in my growth into maturity and understanding of masculinity.  You may find it interesting the way it has impacted me.

One of the main challenges for young men is to know who they are.  While growing up in Oshawa, my church was predominantly black.  At that time I was one of the six black students in my high school of about maybe 1200.  I have never (ever) had a black educator (teacher, librarian, principal, professor or TA), subsequently, my church was the one place where I was not a minority.

It was a place where physically (and socially) I fit in.  As a person (specifically an immigrant) without a personal “felt” history (be it West Indian or Canadian and definitely not American…), it (my church) satisfied me with a feeling of belonging.  Lately, I’ve often reflected on this.

(Mind you, Erie Street has become increasingly more multicultural -since those days- and it provides the opportunity for anyone to fit it.)

Young men have difficulties navigating relationships and are in much need of positive male influences.  My church on a regular basis brought me into an environment of relationships.  I had many dads, moms, and brothers and sisters.

Although, like most churches, the population of females were higher than that of males, the men who were in my life were masculine, strong and spiritual.  (Thinking back, I remember an older man – Mr. Belnavis, who despite his age then and now could dislocate your shoulder with a powerful hand shake!)  I never new my own grandfathers, but I think of him as one.  I found those relationships in the community of Erie Street.

(It makes me consider that with the population of young men who may not regularly attend church in today’s era, is it a wonder that there is a chronic need for mentorship relationships?)

These were the people (both men and women) who kept me on track and accountable in my everyday life.

By the way, I met my wife at there.  Enough said.

The lack of purpose and focus is a labyrinth which threatens to starve many young men before they reach the light of manhood.   Growing up, my church promoted (and it still does) a legacy of opportunity, starting with my late father-in-law Bishop Newton Cole.  In comparison to other churches, our local church was an anomaly, and perhaps it still is even today.

Our current lead Pastor Kevin M.A. Cole, on every level embraces this way of serving and leading.  The mandate is simple, God gets all the glory, and He’s in charge.

To be honest, I’ve never run enthusiastically towards ministry opportunities, but this environment provided a soil which allowed me to grow into my “sweet spot”, which is, my purpose with God –which is connecting, and mentoring and leading males.  If you know me, you know that this is what makes me tick.  In this place (the white building on an obscure street in Oshawa)  I found my purpose and am developing into a “Genesis Man”…

HAVING SAID THAT…

Our third annual “Young Men’s Summit” will be happening Saturday May 23, 2015 at Erie Street Gospel Centre (17 Erie Street, Oshawa) from 1 – 4 PM.  Our focus will be on Mentorship and Employment.  We will be engaging in a Discussion Forum to explore these concepts and other relevant male issues.

After this Summit, we are looking forward to the birth of our very own Durham Mentorship Network.  It will be an entity that will function as an informative liaison to meet the needs of men and young men in our communities.   We are looking for various professionals who would be interested in becoming a part of this data base.   Email me if you are interested.

Finally, please RSVP your presence to the Young Men’s Summit as soon as possible.

Boys 12 and up, young men, and all men are invited.

By the way, there will be a free lunch.

We Are Sparta??

Happy New Year Genesis Men!

 

This morning I woke up with this reflection: Why is the vision of the Genesis Man so important to me?

 

The Genesis Man is simply just a way of existing as males, as men.   It’s a way of purposefully navigating the journey of being a male and being a man.  It’s a way of moving towards a destination with our eyes open.  We may never actually arrive, but I believe with all my heart, with the deepest part of me that there is great value in the journey.  It’s about living life well,  right where you are.

 

The Genesis man is about purpose, relationship and Christian spirituality.  You don’t have to be an expert in any area, no one is… but these “pillars” must be on your radar… your compass must point true north.

 

Many young men and men roam (…at best, meander…) through their existence without a defined sense of purpose, life vision (or at the least) employment.  Mentorship is the only antidote we have as males and as men to deal with this chronic ailment.

 

The Life Coach Program I’ve developed with James Morgan has four reflective exercises you can do with a mentor.  It could take the minimum of one to six months.  While attempting to persuade young men to get on board, I find that taking the plunge seems to be the hardest thing to do.  Equally challenging is persuading men that they need to take an active and proactive part in the lives of young men and boys.

 

One of the great myths (and it is a big one!!) of manhood and masculinity is that we can do it on our own.  Many young men and men struggle with their issues, sins, baggage, and lack of purpose on their own.  The feel that somehow, it’s more… well “masculine” to get it done by themselves.  (What a lie that is.)

 

We were meant to fight like the ancient Greeks (We are Sparta!) in a phalanx like formation.  As men, my shield is to cover the guy beside me, and another man’s shield covers me, and we move forward in our missions with our spears pointed at the enemy.  What is our enemy?  (I’ll get to that.)

 

I’ve often felt that the term “at risk” was much too narrow in definition.  At risk, in my vision, is not just about being at risk because of “risky” behaviours.

At risk means being at risk of not following or finding your purpose.  At risk is about not existing in the richness of relationships we were designed to participate in.  Being at risk is about not being the “kind” of men we could be, and I think that is the real enemy.

 

So gentlemen, Genesis men, boys, young men… I wish you a happy and prosperous and purpose driven 2015.  I invite you to email me and help me fulfill the vision of my heart to mentor and to make mentors, and to put you on the road to purpose.  What is keeping you from taking the plunge?

 

Israel Harriott

 

Alien vs Predator…The Mummy’s Curse…Again?

Do you remember that blog I wrote “Alien vs Predator: Weddings, Ceremonies and Rites of Passages?  I started off by saying; “Why do humans go places and touch things they aren’t supposed to touch?”  This was a theme in that flick, and it’s the same theme in this new movie coming out in December called “Pyramid”.  (Didn’t those people read my blog?)  I’m certain a good amount of those characters will meet an unfortunate “Mummy’s Curse” kind of death -I predict this fate, even though I’ve never seen the movie…

At least Alien vs Predator had a backdrop of a nobler purpose, which was that of showing the importance of rites of passages and ceremonies… (even for aliens)

 

In the Genesis Man Ministry, ceremonies are very important, especially the ones that focus on celebrating and affirming a particular transition such as puberty, graduating high school, getting a job, or even getting married.  As men and young men, we were never meant to go at it alone.  We were never meant to wonder through life like nomads.  We are supposed to get to manhood with our eyes open and rubbing shoulders with other men.  (The Greek “phalanx” fighting formation -shield on the left, spear on the right in tightly pack lines of soldiers- is a metaphor that demonstrates why boys need men to develop and why men need other men to live successful lives.  Each soldier’s weapons were as much for the guy next to him as well as himself.)

 

At some point, boys need to transition to men.  At some point men have to tell boys that “You are a man.”  In my opinion, it is this affirmation and encouragement that is lacking especially in our North American society.

My son just turned thirteen years of age, and I am planning a ceremony for him.  I’m inviting a small group of men and his peers.  He’ll respond to a challenge he must present to us.  We’ll encourage him, affirm him, and give him a “Gift of Significance”.  It’ll last about an hour, but I do believe that this experience will linger a life time…

 

I remember one of the early ceremonies our group did a few years ago.  We encouraged the young man, recognized his manhood, gave him advice, gave him a gift of significance, exhorted him, prayed for him, and then gave him a chance to respond.  I was unprepared at how overwhelmed and broken up he was.  He could barely express his appreciation at the fact that a group of men cared enough to spend an hour to participate in his ceremony.  I knew then I was on the right track, and I know it’s the right thing now.  Unlike a pyramid below the ice (Alien vs Predator) or one below the sand…I know that this is a place we should all be.

Father Knows What? Leave it to… Who?

Over the summer, while surfing the channels I came across the 1997 movie remake of “Leave it to Beaver”.  The original “feel good” sitcom features the “Cleavers”, an “All American Family” from the 1950’s.  “Parents Ward and June, and older brother Wally, try to keep Theodore (‘the Beaver’) out of trouble. However, Beaver continues to end up in one kind of jam or another.” (IMBD) This reboot offering is a contemporary retelling of a 1950’s concept, yet with, weirdly, modern feel.

 

I have to confess that I was not a consumer of the original series (Leave It To Beaver), but I did watch the odd episode.  When I started watching this movie I was intrigued. 

Now, what is the most dominant feature of 1950’s family life?  It has to be the notion of “father knows best.”   Wasn’t that a time when men were men, and men were wise? No doubt, Leave It To Beaver participated in the same genre as the idealized television show from the 1954 entitled “Father Knows Best” (Those who are older may know this). 

As a matter of fact, so ingrained in American pop culture was this particular show(Father Knows Best), “in 1959, the U.S. Treasury Department commissioned a special 30-minute episode called “24 Hours in Tyrant Land” which was never aired on television… but was distributed to schools, churches and civic groups, and promoted the buying of savings bonds.”  (Wikipedia)

 

Well, it’s obvious that father doesn’t always know best, but is it so bad to hold on to a fond piece of historical nostalgia?  I was disappointed with the remake. 

In a pivotal plot moment (Spoiler alert), Ward goes to help his son out of a “Coffee Cup” (he got stuck in a coffee because his bike was stolen by a bully, who then tricked him to climb up into a giant coffee cup that was part of a sign over a store…  )

 

In the “heart felt” conversation between father and seven year old son, it turns out that “father didn’t know best”, and he was responsible for the Beaver’s situation because his son was only trying to live up to his own expectation and approval…   (Forget the fact that the Beaver joined the football team to manipulate his athletic dad in to getting him a new bike.)

I’m not saying that this story line couldn’t happen, or even that it doesn’t happen.  I’m just wondering if we couldn’t entertain that 1950’s mythology just a little longer…  (It just seems that TV dads moved unceremoniously from stern, to sage, to stupid.)

 

With the understanding of the “Genesis Man”, men (fathers especially) are indeed suppose to be wise.  Not only that, but we are to speak words of “declaration” into the lives of our families and those we mentor.  (Adam did so in Genesis 2, when he stated about Eve “You are bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh…)  Furthermore, are we not as men to emulate the pinnacle of Fatherhood found in God our Father?

 

Lenny Leblanc sings a song by Ricky Skaggs, “Father Knows Best”.  Whether you’re a fan of country music or not, it tells an engaging and emotional story of a son who realizes that his father truly did know best.   (Check it out on You tube). 

 

So, maybe it isn’t mythology after all…

 

Ricky Neckles

Ricky NeclesAs an Entrepreneur, Public Speaker, and Community Servant, the name Ricky Neckles is synonymous with excellence and leadership.

Ricky graduated in 2007 from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering, his business acumen and leadership qualities landed him atop the recruitment lists of companies across Canada. Among them, was Accenture, a global consulting company. Ricky would become one of Accenture’s youngest recruits and the youngest to be appointed to the position of Management Consultant Analyst where his portfolio included consulting Sears, Loblaws, and various other multi-billion dollar corporations.

Despite his success at Accenture, Ricky decided to pursue his entrepreneurial passion. In 2008, Ricky Founded Neckles Global Enterprise Inc. (NGE). NGE owns a collection of diversified businesses operating in sectors that include real estate, trade, internet and software.

Under the NGE umbrella, Ricky co-founded TNTech Canada Inc., which would soon become Canada’s leading supplier and distributor of on-site paging systems. Effectively guided by Ricky, TNTech has helped maximize the efficiency and communication for its clientele that includes: Jack Astor’s, The Keg Steakhouse, Baton Rouge and Shoppers Drug Mart.

Ricky is the Founder and Solution Architect of Certified Ace Inc. Certified Ace is an online web application that enhances the experience of searching for, hiring and managing local service professionals.

Aside from his business and entrepreneurial ventures, Ricky remains committed to promoting academic excellence and community service. Helping others succeed and enabling the growth of responsible entrepreneurship is at the cornerstone of Neckles’ personal philosophy. As a motivational speaker and community servant, Neckles has also taken his message of stewardship before government officials and corporate executives. Neckles has spoken as a keynote for a number of youth-centric conferences across Canada encouraging entrepreneurship and the pursuit of education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

Ricky was raised in Toronto’s Mount Dennis community, a neighborhood recognized by the local governments as “at risk.” This at risk environment has given Ricky a unique perspective on the challenges facing youth in the at-risk communities across Canada. His message of perseverance despite circumstance has resonated with youth who understand the daily challenges they face.

Through partnerships with organizations like the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), where he served two terms as President of the University of Toronto Chapter, Ricky has inspired youth to strive for academic excellence, while providing them with the tools to achieve success. Ricky’s vision has always been to ambitiously raise the standard of excellence for our future leaders.

Having overcome the adversity of his environment, it is Ricky’s goal to create a lasting legacy of achievement, excellence, and leadership in his community. Ricky believes, “It is not where you start that counts, but where you finish.” Having experienced a measure of success as an entrepreneur and community leader, Ricky continues to serve and lead his community by emphasizing the importance of education and community service.

To contact or book Ricky Neckles for your event, workshop, or conference, please contact: info@rickyneckles.com