A few good men and The Gaps they face
There’s a scene in the 1993 mob flick A Bronx Tale in which Robert De Niro’s hard-working bus driver Lorenzo comes face to face with Sonny LoSpecchio – the neighborhood mobster in the process of corrupting Lorenzo’s son ‘C’ and who never did an honest day’s work in his life.
When ‘C’ comes home one day with a stack of dirty money, Lorenzo is enraged and bravely stands up to LoSpecchio in a vain attempt to save his son from an inevitable life of crime.
“That’s bad money,” Lorenzo tells his boy. You can’t have it. As for you, he says addressing the mobster, “Stay away from my son”.
“Sonny was right,” says the boy, sobbing. “The working man is a sucker.”
He ‘s wrong! It don’t take much strength to pull a trigger. But try and get up day after day and work for a living. Let’s see him try that. Then we’ll see who’s the real tough guy. The working man is tough. Your father’s the tough guy!
Lorenzo, the scene tells us, is a “good” man; poor, but good.
More than a big house and a Maserati, when it comes time to go to that big tool shed in the sky, isn’t this ultimately what all men really want, to go out as a “good bloke?”
Good bloke. We hear the term often. But what makes a man good, exactly?
Maybe good blokes mentor troubled kids? Cut the hedges at the local primary school on Saturdays? Or feed the chooks when you go on holiday?
Can one unlock the “Good Bloke” badge, just by spending the weekend helping a mate move and seeking nothing in return than a couple of beers at knock-off time?
When men are too kind, too selfless, too honest, we say they are all those things “to a fault”.
One thing’s for sure. We know a good bloke when we see one.
This week, Australia lost Don Ritchie, the “Angel of the Gap”, who coaxed at least 160 “desperate souls” away from the cliff’s edge at Sydney’s most notorious suicide spot and who was arguably our nation’s quintessential good bloke.
Typically, Ritchie was self-effacing about his compassionate interventions. As one journalist wrote following his death, “he helped because he could”.
But for all the Don Ritchies in the world, many good blokes, at least according to American author Tom Matlack, continue to pay for the sins of the worst members of the club.
“My issue is that we collectively, male and female, are obsessed with the worst of the worst when it comes to men rather than the best of the best,” Matlack wrote recently.
A few years ago, he decided to do something about it.
In 2009, he founded “The Good Men Project”, an anthology and documentary that aimed to explore the defining moments in mens’ lives, an endeavor which he says has now become a full blown “social movement”.
The site includes sections for discussion around sex, ethics, sports, dads, families and conflicts, with posts from ordinary men on everything on from giving up drinking, caring for a partner with Alzheimer’s disease to blow-drying a young son’s hair.
“We are fostering a national discussion centered around manhood and the question, - ‘what does it mean to be a good man?’” the website states.
“Guys today are neither the mindless, sex-obsessed buffoons nor the stoic automatons our culture so often makes them out to be.
“Our community is smart, compassionate, curious, and open-minded; they strive to be good fathers and husbands, citizens and friends, to lead by example at home and in the workplace, and to understand their role in a changing world.”
They strive to be good fathers.
Lorenzo the bus driver couldn’t save his boy from a life of crime, but he tried.
There are too few good men like him and that’s too bad.
What do you think makes a good bloke? Who are the good blokes in your life?
Follow Greg on Twitter @barilski
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