Wednesday, August 29, 2018
Three events of late have left me feeling that we are all going to make it into the next step of our cultural evolution.
The first is the movie RBG about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Working within the confines of the law, Ruth has devoted her life to opening the eyes of the patriarchy. Here in America, she has carefully and methodically helped the governing white men of the last sixty plus years to see the injustices that women have suffered for millennia. And she has created the environment where even they wish to see those situations change. The cases that she brought before and won within our legal system have substantially freed women to stand with equal status beside men. Thousands of years of legal oppression were lifted by a single, well-loved and well supported woman within the span of her career. It is an amazing film. If you haven't yet seen it, do. And bless you Ruth! And thank you! Because until we all stand together, each of equal value, we can not reach our full human potential.
The second source of inspiration for me is a Netflix special by the very talented communicator and lesbian comedian Hannah Gadsby in her show, "Nanette." Using humor, standing alongside well justified and profound outrage and anger, she eloquently enlightens her audience and viewers to some of the little known realities typical of our misguided cultural mindset. Hannah shows us how our cultural lack of acceptance, our blind cruelty, and the use of shame toward anyone who is outside of what is considered "normal" is completely dysfunctional. And this is great because until we all treat each other with mutual acceptance and love, we can not be truly connected.
Ask any biologist, the people who study life, and they will tell you that diversity is the foundation of all life. It is essential. It allows for the interweaving of everything together. This brings stability. By culturally debasing diversity among humans, through our discrimination against anyone who doesn't fit the established or presumably cherished ideal, we as a society have not only been weakening our potential, but we have also been creating tremendous pain for too many people, for way too long.
For millennia now, we westerners, have used the pain of shame to debilitate others. Be it toward an Irish man, working on the New York docks, in the 1850's, or toward a lesbian woman, in a bible belt, anywhere, in the 1990's, we habitually use shame as a tool to undermine diversity. This is an outmoded mindset which is very destructive to life itself. However, slowly but surely, I think that we are starting to grow beyond this. People like Hannah, who have been labeled "different" or "unacceptable," are managing to find their own worth and rebuild themselves. Throughout the many decades, those who have been shamed have been sharing their stories and they are awakening our understanding, our compassion and our humanity. And this is great because, as they rise up, sometimes stronger than a tempest, they help us all to awaken, so that we can start to stand together, in equal value, and begin to reach our full human potential.
Awakenings like these are sometimes messy, but they are absolutely necessary, because it is becoming clearer and clearer that our western patriarchal societal model, of top down rule, and notions of superiority, doesn't work for anyone, not for women, not for children, not even for the men. It doesn't work for animals, forests, water or the birds in the sky. When we refuse to value even the smallest voice, we have lop-sided decisions being made.
Years ago in one of his lectures, Joseph Campbell said that when it comes to making decisions about what is important, in general, men are concerned with the ideas of acquisition and protection. This is a more individual perspective. It often involves competition, getting ahead of the other guy. Whereas, he said that his female students, at Sara Lawrence College, persistently taught him that women are generally concerned with the more holistic perspective, the far reaching implications that our decisions have on all of life itself. This viewpoint is more about cooperation, helping each other to learn and grow, supporting each other, together.
When we only have the masculine view of what is right and good, which is the case in a patriarchal culture like ours, we leave out that broader perspective, and wind up serving the few instead of all. Rainforests disappear. Young men are commonly seen as expendable and are sent off to prison or to war. Too often women are undervalued or left broken and destitute. Children can be born drug addicted and unloved. As the beautiful feminist Sonja Johnson once said, "I don't like the way men do worlds." And you know what? Neither do I. Because it takes two halves to make a whole and until we all stand together, each of equal value, side by side, we will continue to lack our full humanity and we can not be truly connected.
So, the time has come for all of us to change, and changing we are. We women are rising up with our voices and finally being heard. We are no longer being forced to stand in silence as our daughters are raped and our foods are being poisoned or produced in factory farms. We are speaking our truth and putting our dollars and our buying power where it reflects our core values. We are purchasing organic and pasture-raised, fair-trade, re-purposed and sweat-shop free. We are voting for women who are true to women's ideals. And we are starting to stand up for everyone who has suffered at the hands of our deluded and horribly disconnected cultural mindset.
This brings me to my third inspiration. Recent election trends show that a fairly large percentage of women are running for office and I hope every one of them gets in. Because it is only when women are represented equally, in regards to the number of women to men, that they stop upholding male values and stand for the ones that women naturally support.
Those of us, who have not been fully indoctrinated into the currently predominating ethic, of "them versus us," tend to open our hearts more readily to everyone: big, little, pink or purple. Studies have shown that when the going gets tough, rather than the typical "fight or flight," that is commonly held from the masculine point of view, the feminine perspective is to "tend and befriend." 'His-story' has been told by the victors. And everyone who lost those battles has been seen as lesser than or different, and has been shamed for it. But in 'Her-story,' despite the potential for individual delinquencies, all are welcomed into the true heart of love.
The time is coming, and coming soon, where we are finally going to be able to let go of personal gain and shame as our societal directives and instead embrace our interconnectedness and our humanity, with love. As women step more fully to the forefront of our cultural objectives, we will begin to choose values that move us beyond war and destruction and celebrate instead the stability of our diversity. We will embrace the great big colorful and highly varied whole, valuing all of it, every bit of life, with love and caring. So I say, "Hooray!" for women rising. And may we all be inspired to act and speak the truth of our lives. And may the world rise up to meet us there, as it has done for both Hannah and for Ruth and for the many other hard working men and women who have fought for our equality all the world round.