What does it mean to be a ‘good man’ in society?

Role models and value systems are all important things to consider by all men, says TIMOTHY O’MAHONY, as he reflects on ways to help women feel safer in society
What does it mean to be a ‘good man’ in society?

The Harvey Weinstein scandal shone the spotlight on male abuse of power and wealth.

I READ the news quite a bit, and can honestly say that over the last few years, there has rarely been a day where I have not read about a bad man somewhere doing bad things.

In recent years, we’ve had high profile scandals such as Harvey Weinstein in Hollywood and the Jeffrey Epstein abuse case, which also entangled Prince Andrew of the British Royal Family, and both these cases showed an absolute abuse of power and wealth.

Historical sexual abuse cases are constantly being brought before the courts here in Ireland and it it feels like every single day somewhere a man is either raping, abusing in some form or murdering a woman.

I have previously written in this paper about the lack of gentleman in today’s society, and more recently about the case of Sarah Everard, the young woman in London who was abducted and murdered by a serving British policeman, and I have become weary of reading about bad men. And this makes me think about what it means to be a good man.

I certainly don’t have the answer, because I feel like this is a question that men should be asking themselves.

And maybe. instead of trying to seek an answer, we should simply try to think about it and allow the question to always be with us.

Does it mean someone who has a job or provides for a family? Does it mean someone who is respectful of others or who comes from a good family himself? Does it mean someone who is a great crack with his friends? Does it mean someone who is trying to save the planet? Or someone who is passionate about his children?

Or does being a good man nowadays simply count as being a man who does not abuse, rape or murder people?

I feel that the concept of what a good man is, will be different for different people.

Circumstances and experience will guide how people view and measure this.

Do people have a good male role model in their lives that they can think of when they think of a good man?

I think the presence of a positive male role model for young people especially is really important. Having one whose behaviour and example can be followed shows young men the right way to behave, it gives them the example they need to follow, and it may allow them to turn to someone for advice. This can shape a young man’s life in a positive manner and it could be an important point along the path of life to that young man becoming or remaining a good man.

Also, for young women, having a positive male role model is important, as this will show them how a good man will treat other people.

Young women should be shown that it is not OK for men to abuse or hurt or treat women with no respect.

What values a man has will play a big part in how he lives his life, and those values may be ones he has learned as a child through his family or perhaps these may be values that he has picked up through a sport or passion that he is involved in.

Integrity is a value about being honest and having strong moral principles. This is about knowing what is right and what is wrong, and having the strength to do the right thing.

Respect is a value about treating others well, and in a way you would wish to be treated yourself. A good baseline for this is to think about how you would like your loved ones to be treated, and then treat others like this.

Responsibility is a value that means we should all take responsibility for our own actions. We should all be conscious of the decisions we make and how these decisions may impact those around us.

I feel that all men should try to have their own value system, to think about and choose values and principles that are appropriate for each man in his own life. This will guide how a man behaves and will help with making the right decisions.

Find what is important and meaningful in your life and use those values to be a better man.

Having a lack of values or having no values at all can be an issue. It may mean that a man has no structure to how he thinks about himself and others around him. He may end up taking people for granted or not understanding how to show respect to people.

If in doubt about the values you hold, you should talk to someone about this, your loved ones and those closest to you will be best placed to help you understand what values may be important to you. And there is no question that those closest to a man will be best placed to give an opinion on what a good man means to them.

I certainly can’t answer the question of what it means to be a good man, I can give my own thoughts and opinions but that is all it is.

I can only ask myself the question too, and think about what being a good man means to me.

Maybe all of us men should consider the question, and decide what being a good man means to each of us. Maybe we should hold values and follow them and try to be better men.

If we can be better men, then maybe the news will not be so full of bad men doing bad things.

Timothy O’Mahony is a father of two and playwright living in Rochestown

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