The Lone Ranger Myth

Stephen Arterburn

Men in the farming communites of yesteryear counted on one another for everything. They helped one another build barns, retrieve stray animals, teach and mentor children, even bury and grieve deceased loved ones. The very survival and success of their community depended on the mutual caring and support of the men in it. But today’s man has been programmed to believe that caring, supportive relationships are largely the domain of women. In fact, men often look with suspicion at other men with close male friends. Yet in order to meet basic emotional needs, which are both authentically human and masculine, men need deep, caring relationships with other men. A man who doesn’t have at least one other man he can be accountable to regarding his failures, hurts, and temptations is a prime target for masculine anger. The angry man in our society is caught between mythical masculinity and true masculinity. He feels pressure to achieve, earn, conquer, and win—and to do these things as a “Lone Ranger.” Yet he also feels the need to love and nurture those he loves, and to be loved and nurtured by those who love him.  Men, too often our attempts to reconcile these pressures in our lives are futile. Consequently, we remain perpetually torn between invincibility and vulnerability, between being aloof and involved. Take heart! Exposing myths and identifying problems is a tremendous move toward healing! We’ll move in that direction together in the days ahead.