“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any”. ~Alice Walker
I remember the moment that I really understood how patriarchy affected me and how it altered the way I showed up in the world. I was in the midst of reading the Women Who Run with Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes and I could feel a fire rising inside me. I felt the need to sit in deep meditation and witness as generations of suppression, repression, and helplessness moved as waves of emotion through my body. I screamed out in a crying rage for the harming of societies past who felt the brunt of a system much more deliberate than the version I was currently living. I grieved deeply as I saw the actions of myself and generations through this understanding. Then I sat with the revelation that I had never really understood the lens from which I viewed the world.
The Divine Energies
If I look at that experience carefully, it wasn’t just the suppression of women that brought me to such depths or the past hurts they’ve endured, it was much deeper than that. It was the diminishment of many of the values and ideals that I held dear. Aspects of the Divine Feminine that as a society we accepted as less than. In our current climate, it isn’t just about the suppression of women but about the imbalance of both the feminine and masculine energies. It’s about what we have decided is worthy and noble and what isn’t. The Divine Feminine is the embodiment of emotion, creativity, flexibility, and intuition. She is receptive, inclusive and mysterious and yes, even dark. The Divine Masculine is about loyalty, logic, reasoning, strength, and security for all. In our Western culture, we favor many of the characteristics that are inherently masculine and diminish those that are more aligned with the Divine Feminine. Though, in our patriarchal system, neither are well represented.
This isn’t a conversation about gender though it is through gender roles and stereotypes that the conversation has become muddied. It is about creating a new paradigm that benefits everyone, and this requires that we recognize and value both the masculine and feminine that exists within every individual and every culture. These energies have nothing to do with gender and everything to do with restoring balance, harmony, and wholeness. It is time for us to re-evaluate what it is we value and what brings us to the world we want to create. It is also time for us to understand the lens from which we see the world and how that defines or limits our power and what we believe is possible.
A Time of Revealing
Over the past decade, we have seen the underpinnings of our deceptive financial systems leading to outrageous wealth extraction and income disparity. We have seen the biases and racism of our political and judiciary systems, and now we are shedding light on sexual harassment and predatory behavior. All of these are forms of abuses of power and all of these are symptoms of a system that benefits a few at the cost of the many.
In our most recent revealing, we have been bringing to light feelings of shame, self-betrayal, and feelings of powerlessness. But in our attempt to bring these wrongs to the forefront of our consciousness, we are substituting shame for shaming. We are bringing light to our own internal feelings of shame and replacing that with public shaming as a means of social control. Does that bring us toward the world that we want to see? We have talked about predatory behavior as really being about power over another. In this call out culture, are we not using the power of social media to destroy lives? We are at a point where a single allegation can bring down the life of another human with no conversation of due process, or opportunity for redemption. This can’t be our end game.
I’ve seen groups of people trying to silence other groups because how could they know the challenges and lives of someone else, someone different from them. The answer is we don’t, but if we tell anyone they shouldn’t be heard, then we diminish all voices. It further perpetuates the atmosphere of separation, polarization, and resentment. People should be able to engage from where ever they are and from their own experience; this is speaking their truth. And we need to listen, but when our truth also involves the silencing of another’s voice, then we are just doing to someone else what we have had done to us. That is matching the same level of consciousness that created the world we are in. So if we want to create something different, we have to approach it from a new place, from a new lens of our own conscious creation. Matching fear with fear, anger with anger or shame with shame will result in more of the same. If we want to create a climate where all people are valued, welcomed and heard then we can’t squash one voice for the sake of another.
Tales of Power
Patriarchy isn’t just about men. It is a system. A system we all take part in. In order to dismantle this system, we don’t go after men; we unplug from the story that created it. We see the lens from which we have been viewing the world and opt to take another viewpoint. We are seeing people unplug from this story all over the place. What we are saying right now is that we will not plug our spirit and our wellbeing into a story that keeps us small. At the same time, we need to be mindful of what we are unconsciously creating and of the destruction that we are leaving in our wake. Otherwise what we are creating is no better. That is the reformation of a system, a Band-aid approach, that doesn’t let wounds heal, it only creates more. We want to birth a new system and this requires a new story. It is time to take our power back as individuals, not so we can have power over another but so we can witness our own power.
There are some very real things to be offended by, but being offended is a choice that we must consider carefully. Because when we do, we also accept the role of the victim. I know that some people are still in their anger. Anger, grief, and condemnation are all part of the healing process but so is forgiveness and compassion. Anger is a powerful entry point into action and has the ability to destroy what no longer serves us. But without moving through it into forgiveness and compassion, anger’s destructive force can take over and leave more wounds.
“Once you do away with the idea of people as fixed, static entities, then you see that people can change, and there is hope”. ~ Bell Hooks
Our world faces many difficult challenges, geopolitically and ecologically. We need to be able to come together more than ever. For myself, the endgame in this time of revealing is creating a world of honor, harmony and mutual respect for all living beings. What is yours and are your actions in alignment with it? Otherwise, we stay in the cycle of us versus them, or the victim and the perpetrator. What if we don’t move from a place of powerlessness, not at the level of the collective, but as an individual? What if we are powerful beyond measure and that is the lens we now see the world? Or if that is a hard place to see, can you use compassion and forgiveness and witness the wounds in another? Can you aid another in their healing, so there is room for redemption?
At some point, we have to have a conversation about how we begin to heal. How we learn to forgive those who have hurt us. Moving from a place of radical love for ourselves and for our fellow humans. A place where we can receive information that challenges us, triggers us even, without going directly to a place of bad or good, or us versus them. Where we don’t feel the need to control the world through the lens of our wounds. Where we can hold space for forgiveness and provide the opportunity for people to continue to grow and develop and deeply heal. Arthur Schopenhauer said, “Everyone takes the limits of his own vision for the limits of the world.” How does your lens limit your power, your potential and what is truly possible? Are you ready to create a new story?