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Publically Authentic

The shedding of tears seems to be the topic of conversation around the water coolers, as they say, this week. And not just any tears … man tears. At the center of attention is, of course, incoming Speaker of the House, John Boehner, who they say frequently exhibits emotional “outbursts.”

The Today Show and others are quickly cashing in on the ridicule of shows like The View who publically scorned and made fun of Boehner, drawing the inevitable comparison between him and his female counterpart, Nancy Pelosi.

And as The Today Shows poses the question, “Is it okay for men to cry in public?” I found myself pondering that question. I like to pose it differently. Not, “Is it okay?” but rather, “How do we perceive those men who do?” Because in all honesty, I’m a little sensitive these days with the question of, “Is it okay?” because truly, we deserve some choices, and whether or not to show public emotion should be one of them. However, all actions are subjected to consequences; positive and negative, constructive and destructive.

Let me preface my opinion by giving you a glimpse of my view. I am surrounded by men … strong men with strong opinions and passionate beliefs. Men, like my husband, who love Western movies and in particular, John Wayne. Remember, “The Quiet Man”? The viewing of which is one of their personal traditions, every St. Patrick’s Day. For me? Outside of Maureen O’Hara’s wardrobe … it is not one of my favorites.

So … man tears. It’s not something I see often in my personal life. But when I have … it has had a profound and lasting effect. Why? Authenticity.

When men can be so moved by the plight of another or a cause he is passionate about that his emotion bubbles to the surface, it is something to which people take note. It moves us, collectively, by its shear exceptionality.

Why is it different for women? Historically, we have been given to tears … in all different kinds of ways with all different kinds of results. And, while many tears were shed that were truly heartfelt, many have also been shed that had an edge of manipulative scheming attached. And … in many cases, women’s psychological makeup sometimes requires the release of tears to stay healthy. Men know it, and traditionally have been uncomfortable with it. Fair? It just is what it is.

However, if one did a search on such a topic, I believe one could find examples of both male and female public emotion that moved people at poignant moments in time. And at the heart of those displays, at those moments where people became either captivated by it or not, I believe, comes down simply to this ... motive. We all desire authentic responses from people. Perhaps even more at this time of the year than any other time. Perhaps more at this time in our political culture than ever before. With our ability to manufacture most anything and pass it off as real; from reality TV to movie sets, to print, to all media … we long, collectively, for that which is real.

And frankly, when John Boehner can shed tears, true tears, over the plight of our country and our nation’s children, I am moved … and I am responsive. Thank you, men, for your strength, your convictions, and yes … even your tears. Just … not too often, please.

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