What does it mean to be a decent man?

“Having a daughter does not make a decent man. Having a wife does not make a decent man. Treating people with dignity and respect makes a decent man.” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Shortly before she died I was graced to be able to unconditionally apologise to my wife and soulmate for all the words I had said to her that had hurt her.

I am so grateful that I was able to do this and she was able to hear and receive my apology. I cannot imagine how awful and wretched I would have felt if she had died without hearing those words from my lips. We ended our conversation with us both saying, “I love you, I love you, I love you”.

Yes, the words I spoke that hurt the woman I loved more than any other came largely from the pain inflicted upon me as a child by my mother, by her words of abuse. As a young child I remember thinking how so not true was the rhyme “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”

My experience was that my mother’s words hurt more deeply than all the physical punishments meted out in those dark days to children who broke the adult’s rules. Words can cut deeper than the sharpest knife. And those wounds sometimes never heal over an entire lifetime.


But it’s not as simple as blaming my mother for the pain she passed on to me. And so excusing myself for the hurtful words I spoke to my beloved and spoke to many other women, excusing myself for my actions because of the traumas of my childhood.

For my mother was almost certainly sexually abused by her father, who shot and murdered his lover with a revolver, and then killed himself in a lonely and deserted railway carriage when she was but a 16 year old girl. And so the pain of the father was was passed on to the daughter, and so down through the generations.

No, the responsibility for my pain lies only with me. And, by accepting response-ability for my pain, I grant myself the ability, the power, to consciously choose my response, release the pain, and set myself free – here and now – without judging my mother, and without judging anything that happened in the past. And without wanting or needing anything that happened in the past to change.


Our freedom lies in the here and now of our present moment experience. Freedom lies within the reach of each and every one of us who makes the choice to take response-ability for our lives, who takes response-ability for our thoughts, our speech and for our actions.

Could it be that one heart-felt apology, given unconditionally without regard for personal gain, reward or status – and three little words repeated three times – could be all it takes to end the age-old war between men and women? And to allow peace to break out from the prison of our minds and live in the world as the mutual One Heart of all men and all women …?


Leo Searle Hawkins

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