Beautiful weather all over our great country, a perfect day for all Women to March. Get out there now to celebrate the historic milestones and unprecedented economic success and wealth creation that has taken place over the last 12 months. Lowest female unemployment in 18 years!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) Jan. 20, 2018
As Trump tries impose his golden toupee on pink pussy hats everywhere, the New York Times and other news sources were quick to respond, countering that female unemployment has been on the rise.
But let us not forget the important contributions of women with our contempt for one particular man in power. Today is important because the words our foremothers, like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, still ring true today:
"The earth has never yet seen a truly great and virtuous nation, for woman has never yet stood the equal with man..."
Today's Women's March Report by the New York Times quotes Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York in a similar sentiment: “It’s women who are holding our democracy together in these dangerous times.... To change the system, we need to change the players and have women at the table.”
Besides the pretty pink pussy hats and clever signage, a beautiful thing about the women march, it that it is not just about women. When women vote, invest, or educate, the tendency is to act on behalf of the family, the community, the collective. A voice for women means a voice for everyone.
Diversity is the intelligence of nature, and diversity of thought is the true intelligence of humanity. Today, I was present, but didn't march. I squeezed in a yoga class with an old friend, and walked around town with a new friend, enjoying a day of winter sunlight in between storms. Living in California, people are most often in cars, and today, with the marches and the sun, Santa Rosa, CA was abuzz with the energy of a town expressing a desire for a better world. That is a beautiful thing, and I reveled in it. We know we need to rebuild together. Not just our community, but our world. I called my congressional representative to express support for 100% clean power in CA, and encouraged some friends to do so. I wrote letters this week to support a public bank for our region. I stopped by a creek I usually drive by and watched the water flow. I said yes to a longer day of strolling, and less tasking. I reveled in knowing a better world is possible, and soaked in as much delight as I could experience.
And I will be up late tonight working toward peace in the best way I know possible, because I believe, "Failure is impossible." as Susan B. Anthony famously proclaimed in 1906, when she turned 86.
And still we rise. Mother's Day began as an anti-war movement led by mothers, driven by the insanity of sending one's children off to kill another mother's children. It is important to remember these ideals, and it is important to remember these times. Simply because the engine that drives an extractive economy and war machine is so deafening, it doesn't mean the sound of harmony and generosity of spirit has disappeared.
I love my ReSisters, and activists, and brothers and friends who care enough to show up in a positive way. Embracing peace and love is as important as resisting evil. We cannot always be in fight or flight mode, it doesn't allow the body to heal. Yes, the body responds, and the energy of anger can be harnessed for action. When we march together, it is a way of singing together. Harmonizing is important, but it doesn't mean homogenizing. Harmony represents different voices, that become more beautiful when they come together.
I echo Susan B. Anthony and proclaim: "Peace is Inevitable." And when it is our goal, we can use our cleverness and creativity to find a way to exist on a peaceful path toward a peaceful future.
To get there, we need women, because we need all voices. Diversity is the intelligence of nature, and diversity thought is the true intelligence of humanity.
So in celebration of women, in celebration of creative self-expression, in celebration of resisting oppression for the benefit of all, I want to elevate the words of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and hear her song ring out, all the way from 1850.
. . . . Some tell us that if woman should interest herself in political affairs, it would destroy all domestic harmony. What, say they, would be the consequence, if husband and wife should not agree in their views of political economy? Because, forsooth, husband and wife may chance to differ in their theological sentiments, shall woman have no religion? Because she may not choose to worship at the same altar with her liege lord, must she of necessity do up all her worshipping in private, in her own closet? Because she might choose to deposit her vote for righteous rulers - such as love justice, mercy, truth, and oppose a husband, father, or brother, who would, by their votes, place political power in the hands of unprincipled men, swearing, fighting, leaders of armies, rumsellers and drunkards, slaveholders and prating northern hypocrites, who would surrender the poor panting fugitive from bondage into the hands of his blood-thirsty pursuers -- shall she not vote at all? It is high time that men learned to tolerate independence of thought and opinion in the women of their household.
. . . . Much of this talk about domestic harmony is the sheerest humbug. Look around among your whole circle of friends, and tell me, you who know what transpires behind the curtain, how many truly harmonious households have we now. Quiet households we may have, but submission and harmony produce very different states of quietness. There is no true happiness where there is subordination -- no harmony without freedom.
But, say some, would you have women vote? What, refined, delicate women at the polls, mingling in such scenes of violence and vulgarity! By all means, where there is so much to be feared for the pure, the innocent, the noble, the mother surely should be there to watch and guard her sons who are to encounter such stormy, dangerous scenes at the tender age of twenty-one. Much is said of woman's influence: might not her presence do much toward softening down this violence, refining this vulgarity? . . .
But if woman votes, would you have her hold office? Most certainly would we have woman hold office. We would have man and woman what God intended they should be, companions for each other, always together, in counsel, government, and every department of industry. If they have homes and children, we would have them stay there, educate their children, provide well for their physical wants, and share in each other's daily trials and cares. Children need the watchful care and wise teachings of fathers as well as of mothers. No man should give up a profitable business, leave his wife and children month after month, and year after year, and make his home desolate for any false ideas of patriotism, for any vain love of display or ambition for fame and distinction. The highest, holiest duty of both father and mother is to their children and each other, and when they can show to the world a well-developed, wisely-governed family, then let the State profit by their experience. Having done their duty at home, let them together sit in our national councils. The violence, rowdyism, and vulgarity which now characterize our Congressional Halls, show us clearly that "it is not good for man to be alone." The purifying, elevating, softening influence of woman is a most healthful restraint on him at all times and in all places. We have many noble women in our land, free from all domestic incumbrances, who might grace a Senate chamber, and for whose services the country might gladly forego all the noise, bluster, and folly of one-half the male dolts who now flourish there and pocket their eight dollars a day. The most casual observer can see that there is some essential element wanting in the political organization of our Republic. The voice of woman has been silenced, but man cannot fulfil his destiny alone -- he cannot redeem his race unaided. There must be a great national heart, as well as head; and there are deep and tender chords of sympathy and love that woman can touch more skillfully than man. The earth has never yet seen a truly great and virtuous nation, for woman has never yet stood the equal with man. . . .
E. C. STANTON.
Like the classic game of telephone, how many of our grievances toward mankind are due to a communication breakdown?
If you’ve read Trevor Noah’s autobiography (you should) you will remember the story “Go Hitler!” story. Innocent intentions trying to ameliorate years of cultural history and misunderstandings end in perpetuating a sense of disrespect from both sides. Without the grace of time and mediation, this hilarious, but severly painful and unfortunate misunderstanding could never be seen for just that: a misunderstanding.
Today, I read an article by Annie Pfiefer in the New York Times, where she grapples with the needs of our children, and therefore our culture, to bump up against dissent and disagreement, challenges and competition, and work it out.
I agree with Annie that our culture has suffered a serious ineptidute in thoughtful conversation, especially political conversation. So when it comes time to think about politics, we are seriously truncated. A reality that only felt like a sort of fuzzy haze until I lived in Mexico and travelled to Europe as a teenager. They knew how to talk about politics, weren’t afraid to disagree, and could seamlessly move from topic to topic to dancefloor without the bitter rancor two Americans might feel who represented the opposite ends of the political spectrum.
Sure, we love to spout our opinions, just not to your face.
America is like a big teenager. A bully when threatened, but just dying to be liked on the inside. We want celebrity, but not controversy, heavens no! For many years, I’ve lived in a culture that would rather “stay cool” and just hang out, than stand up for what was right, speak out against what is wrong, and ruffle feathers.
Perhaps Annie is right, generations of helicopter parents that have intervened in childhood conflicts and not given our children the right to defend themselves, find their voice, and find that friendship can still follow a fight.
Annie, are you saying that expressing one’s true thoughts and emotions is the key to conversation with content and an empowered populace? That children saying and doing cruel things on the playground are acting within their nature, and in order to teach them to work it out we need to allow them to act it out?
It sounds too dangerously close to the idea that Political Correctness has a stranglehold on our culture. It is a false dichotomy to posit that parents either intervene or let children duke it out. I don’t think political correctness on the playground is choking our children’s development.
How about teaching our children, our students, and our community leaders common tools of communication? How about if we begin with teaching children how to recognize their needs, and to communicate them without having to engage in combat? How about everytime that we recognize we have a need, we recognize that others also have needs?
How about teaching non-violent communication techniques in school, and practicing it throughout K-12, from group projects to debate classes?
What if we valued student’s psychological capital more than their test scores?
What if we implemented programs that primarily addressed how to recognize, communicate, and address needs, as individuals and communities?
What if we taught non-violent communication in schools, and studied the effects it has on students’ psychological capital, namely hope, optimism, self-efficacy, and resiliency?
What if, as a adults reflecting on how to better communicate with one another, we began to target our conversations more toward how to play a fair game and less toward blame and shame?
I think we might decide that our education and economic systems are choking on a lack of compassion, not too much PC.
About the author
Observations, reflections, questions, and personal inquiries on how to shift our collective mindset to one that fulfills our human potential as innovative, compassionate, and joyful.