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.

One of the best. Pic: Craig Greenhill

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.”

What Lorenzo said next, I’ve never forgotten:

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

If you or someone you know may be at risk of suicide contact Lifeline 13 11 14 or beyondblue 1300 22 46 36.

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Most commented

48 comments

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    • Nathan says:

      06:22am | 16/05/12

      Sad to hear about Don Ritchie, clearly a great man who took on responsibilities he never had to and remained so humble. Hopefully the community can find a way to commemorate this great man

    • Tim says:

      07:07am | 16/05/12

      Oh. My. God.  A supportive article about MEN on The Punch.

      When I get up off the floor I’ll try to make a more incisive comment…

    • egg says:

      12:50pm | 16/05/12

      @Tim, but what about women? How dare they write an article about MEN and not constantly & reverently mention women?! SEXIST! Blah blah blah, masculinisation of our country, blah.

      *curls up on the floor*

    • Hank says:

      02:40pm | 16/05/12

      Come on TIm and egg dont be so divisive.  Just bow your head for a second and give a thought for Don and his grieving family and lets all try to follow the fine example he set for all men.  Humble, hard working, generous and loving of our families.  RIP mate.

    • Avo says:

      02:57pm | 16/05/12

      don’t bother, Tim. really.

    • Nick says:

      04:05pm | 16/05/12

      I find the site quite supportive of men…maybe it really comes down to where we come from as individual readers.

    • Lizzie3 says:

      08:11am | 16/05/12

      From my observations, there’s more Don Ritchie’s living quietly unrecognised lives in our male world than are ever given credit for, and Mr Ritchie deserves to be commemorated.  Every day hundreds of thousands of good men go about their lives quietly and without fanfare , and it’s often noted that many men in female-male “partnerships” endure lives of quiet despair. 

      It’s very nice to see a positive story about men instead of all the self-indulgent, precious rubbish we get rammed down our throats about airhead, bitching women. It’s become so one-sided that men appear to be deliberately choosing singledom.

      Women have been making names for themselves with sensationalised man-bashing for way too long. Just look at the Greer woman’s perspective on life and the speed with which she attacked the late Steve Irwin.

      Men don’t just mow our the lawns, lift the furniture, paint the spouting, fix the car, constantly worry about providing for their families in all circumstances, it’s their strong shoulders that quietly carry the emotional worries routinely devolved to them by female partners, friends, work colleagues and ageing parents.

      Habitual complaining about men by “out there” women who noticeably offer little else to our society is an unjust and nasty trend .  I don’t know how this can ever change, but it probably won’t until the new 30-is-20-something frizzled up self centred entitlement mentality women discover that they are certainly far from perfect and simply do not qualify for the longer-term respect and attention of a good man.

    • amy says:

      02:56pm | 16/05/12

      yep…not biased..at all

    • Inky says:

      04:08pm | 16/05/12

      @Amy

      Your point is what exactly?

    • amy says:

      04:43pm | 16/05/12

      @Inky

      my point is that the above comment is rediculous

    • Elizabeth1 says:

      07:39pm | 16/05/12

      What’s really annoying about this comment is that this is about men and this comment like some others takes it straight back to being about women.

    • Spotter says:

      11:25pm | 16/05/12

      Good day, Erick!

    • MarkS says:

      08:21am | 16/05/12

      When I am dead it will not matter if I have been a good guy or not. But every time I look myself in the mirror it matters.

    • Traxster says:

      11:11am | 16/05/12

      Well said MarkS…..well said.

    • kiki says:

      08:32am | 16/05/12

      There are plenty of good men out there. My dad is an example of this. He is the type of guy that does his best at all times and is a wonderful person to have around. smile
      media, please post more positive stories about both genders. there are wonderful people among both of them.

    • kiki says:

      08:33am | 16/05/12

      There are plenty of good men out there. My dad is an example of this. He is the type of guy that does his best at all times and is a wonderful person to have around. smile
      media, please post more positive stories about both genders. there are wonderful people among both of them.

    • Greg Barila says:

      12:00am | 17/05/12

      Thanks for the comment, Kiki. My dad is at the top of my Good Blokes list, too. I wish I were more like him. He migrated from Italy, age 7 and had little education. But he knew how to work hard. And that’s what he’s done solidly for 50 years. We never went without. I’m sure you others can relate. But more than that, my dad is an affable character and is rarely phased in the face of the toughest struggles. His positivity is something I wonder at. The things I remember most as a kid were that a) he always had a cigarette dangling from his mouth b) He was always humming or singing songs and c) striking up conversations with random strangers, taking in their life story and sharing his. He taught us about the value of a good deed. “You never know when you might need something from them”, he says.

    • Arnold Layne says:

      08:41am | 16/05/12

      Great to see a piece recognising Don Ritchie.  A bloke who did what he did not because he thought it would get him on to reality TV, but did it because it was the right thing to do.

    • M says:

      08:46am | 16/05/12

      A good man’s word is his bond.

    • Dan Webster says:

      09:03am | 16/05/12

      RIP Don Ritchie. You were a leader amongst the “good guys”.

      “Good guys” are invisible to the media and the agenda setters these days.

    • Old Hack says:

      10:27am | 16/05/12

      Well, you could have knocked me down with a feather - a good-bloke article! As one who has spent many years in the print media, it’s always been about getting a pic or yarn on an attractive woman in the forward pages. Blokes - whatever their deeds - simply don’t pass muster, in the eyes of editors.

    • Boxer from Animal Farm says:

      11:54am | 16/05/12

      Nice, kind and hard working is not news, media only have eyes for the privileged tip of the iceberg that is populated by a mix of unsavoury and evil types.  Below the waterline is a different world.

    • Kheiron says:

      10:35am | 16/05/12

      Allow me to be a little cliche, but my dad’s a good man.
      Never seen anyone work harder. Always provided. Never raised his hand in anger.
      When the floods happened here in Queensland he was the first to offer help and didn’t quit until everyone was fine. We loaded up the work ute and our brand new prado with sandbags and worked through the night. Then for more than a week he spent his days helping strangers clean up their homes and businesses.
      I love him.

    • SalC says:

      11:05am | 16/05/12

      My dad’s a good bloke.  He’s worked damn hard all his life to eek out a living for us kids, driving a forklift & never complaining, never missing a day of work.  Now he’s looking forward to a comfortable retirement: which he deserves.

    • Greg Barila says:

      12:02am | 17/05/12

      Thanks SalC. There’s honor in that. I have enormous respect for those blokes who quietly go about their work. There’s too much whinging without just cause these days.

    • Blue Light says:

      11:07am | 16/05/12

      What a beautiful old soul. I think we are actually surrounded by beautiful souls, we just don’t realise it sometimes. I also think there are a lot of damaged souls out there who need our patience and support. Don Ritchie obviously heard the call of the lost and the dispairing. A true gentleman.

    • renold says:

      11:36am | 16/05/12

      There are millions of good men as there are millions of good women, the problem is the professional gender “academics” who are predominately female and claim to know everything about men and speak on behalf of all women

      Pure and simple

      Blessed are the cheesemakers

    • ByStealth says:

      05:13pm | 17/05/12

      Gender academics are primarily feminists. I don’t want feminists telling men (and boys) what ‘good men’ are.

      I’m very wary of the good men project because so many feminists including radfems or gender feminists or gynocentrists or whatever you would like to call them have jumped at the chance to influence what future men should be like.

      Egalitarians should be welcome there as should liberal and moderate MRA’s. Everyone else should leave them to get on with it.

    • OchreBunyip says:

      12:03pm | 18/05/12

      GMP is indeed suspect; they have filters set up so comments that include words such as “women” or “feminists” automatically go into moderation. The visibly active moderators are self-admitted feminists.

      RIP Don Ritchie, I am not sad at your passing for all things must end, but sad that the world is a poorer place for losing a good man.

    • FedUp says:

      11:41am | 16/05/12

      Whats a real pity is the type of male that the TV stations think is worth promoting and glamorising like Gangsters, Bikies, Underworld figures and we wonder why young kids think these types are cool.

    • Andrew says:

      12:26pm | 16/05/12

      I agree Fedup> Surely it doesn’t take a genius to see that there is a great story behind this guy that would make a great telemovie/movie.

      I’ll happily acquire the film rights. If done right i am sure it will help kick start a much needed conversation on mental illness, anxiety and depression.

      These type of people need to be celebrated not just for what they did but to remind everyone that things aren’t as bad as it seems and that at the end of the day we are all human and need to look after eachother.

    • M says:

      12:49pm | 16/05/12

      But those types are cool. You can’t glamorize an accountant or an IT dude.

    • The Pedant says:

      01:29pm | 16/05/12

      ...Did anyone mention that Don Ritchie was an ex-serviceman himself, with the RAN; he actually witnessed the surrender of the Japanese at the end of WW2 if his bio is right.  The bio also says he was a NAVY Seal, though I don’t think it means what Wikipedia thinks it means.

      He did then settle down to be a life insurance salesman, and he never wound up running a company, but hell, if Australia’s filmmaking grants bodies can throw away millions of our tax dollars to remake The fucking Great Gatsby, they can surely cast someone of note to play Don Ritchie.

    • fml says:

      02:15pm | 16/05/12

      What about Dexter?

      He is a scientist he is somewhat glamourised, though he is a nasty piece of work.

    • M says:

      04:43pm | 16/05/12

      He’s also a psychopath like Hannibal lecter.

      Face it, criminals are cool.

    • Inky says:

      12:25pm | 16/05/12

      It’s times like this I wish I were a better person. But reality is always just a step away…

    • Greg Barila says:

      12:04am | 17/05/12

      That’s right, Inky. As Yoda said, “Do or Do not, there is no try”.

    • sir ronald bradnam says:

      12:45pm | 16/05/12

      He may have got the award for the local hero but Don Ritchie deserves the award for the australian of the year, over an actor, a singer, several sportsmen, global warmists and soldiers, to me this guy is the epitome of a true hero and I doubt he had the ego to actually want an award.
      There are many unsung heros in our communities and he was one of them making a difference on a daily basis. RIP Don you will be missed.

    • Biggles says:

      01:12pm | 16/05/12

      Not wrong Ron - the selection of Australian of the year is extremely shallow. Such awards should be more about selfless care for others rather than another marketing exercised for celebrities, sportsfolk, politicians and bureaucrats.

    • Debbie says:

      02:06pm | 16/05/12

      Goo call - would take Don Ritchie over Geoffrey Rush or Tim Flannery any day of the week. Perhaps he could be nominated posthumously.

      He is the epitome of a hero, self effacing, quietly doing what he did every day, never looking for praise or acknowledgement. Although my Dad has never done this sort of stuff, he is my hero, as he has always done his best, done his duty to his country and his family, quietly getting on with his life and never looking for glory for anything he does

    • Rickster says:

      12:51pm | 16/05/12

      And what if just one of the 160 people he stopped from doing themselves murdered someone, who’s responsible, Do gooders just thinking of themself, why do we have to be good or bad why can’t we just be.

    • Stevardon says:

      01:15pm | 16/05/12

      ...really? You are making that argument? Well what if of the 160 one ended up saving someones life, would he be responsible for that? Is the man who invented the car responsible for all automobile accidents throughout history? Was Hitler (sorry godwins) a good guy because of the millions he killed one or two were probably murderers? Take some personal responsibility, each of us are responsible for our own actions no matter what the circumstances. There are actions which help the progress of mankind and there are actions which hinder it, good people perform more of the actions that progress us, bad people are those who we would be better off without. That you can’t see this is a terrible thing in itself and is probably why life in Australia is gradually becoming worse.

    • Jeremy says:

      01:34pm | 16/05/12

      I require some notice to know whether that is A)  your personal reaction to this article, or B) whether you’re being ironic for some reason?
      A) Then nor should we have doctors and nurses who may aid some future villain. The idea we should judge people for their unknown future actions is bizarre.
      B) Why? Some selfish people may agree with you.
      Also this article isn’t about ‘do-gooder’s’, just people who don’t mind doing a bit of good.

    • sir ronald bradnam says:

      06:55am | 17/05/12

      Congrats Dickster the dumbest comment on the punch today, no make that ever you idiot.

    • Hank says:

      02:47pm | 16/05/12

      With respect to Dons memory to consider Rickster all I can offer you is pity.  Any other emotion at this time would be inappropriate.

    • Adrian Luca says:

      07:27pm | 16/05/12

      From reading the majority of posts here, I have concluded that the white Australian male is the most persecuted creature on earth. It’s a credit to them that in the face of all this discrimination they still command the vast majority of the nation’s positions of power. Kudos to you all!

    • Bill Bruford says:

      01:53pm | 17/05/12

      My dad was not a good bloke he was a saint.

      Looking back many years we think that mum suffered from post natal depression. As a result she spent a good part of her life in and out of Psych hospitals and remember watching her receive shock treatment. The stigma they both copped because of people ignorance was enormous.

      I recall my dad telling me that he had the option to have mum permanently locked up in an institution. He could remarry and live a normal life. But he didn’t. He would bring her home time and time again and refused to give in, never complained and stayed with her until the end.

      I have no doubt there are others in tough situations who quietly go about their duty.  They are the unsung good blokes.

    • Greg Barila says:

      11:36pm | 17/05/12

      Sounds like an amazing bloke, Bill.

 

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