patriarchy

My First Feminist

(Or “uppity women” I have known) <June 12/14>

The first feminist in my life was my mother.

I was born in the early 1950s, in Canada, 4th (& youngest) child of a white, middle-class family. With an upwardly-mobile-obsessed father (no amount of money was ever “enough” for him) who was a bully – to his sons (my brothers), especially, & to my mother.

I was afraid of him, & did not love him, & yes, I have compassion for him now, but the man was sure no picnic.

My Mom was ahead of her time. She went “out” to work when no one in her social circle would have considered doing such a thing. Nor, I’m sure, could they grasp (at first) why she was doing such a thing. (Everyone we knew had a big house & a couple of cars & belonged to the Yacht Club & the Golf & Country Club, & since most were Air Canada people, took frequent flying trips here & there around the globe.)

Having a job & an income (luckily, Mom had become a nurse back before World War II, & only had to more or less re-train) was how she got out. Got away.

From my father’s bitterness, anger, sarcasm – & his fists.

For many years I was the only kid I knew whose Mom “worked” & trust me, I did not enjoy feeling like the weird, different kid. I just wanted to be “like everyone else.”

Here’s the point, though: my Mom was a feminist even though she never used the term. I’m not sure when it came into vogue, but for sure some time after my Mom forged her own path.

She just did what she had to do.

She wasn’t perfect (I’ve yet to meet anyone who is), but she had the courage to risk my father’s wrath, her friends’ disapproval and the world’s cold shoulder (for example she could not get “credit” when she went out on her own, because she was a  … woman).

She was brave, & feisty, & I am grateful to her for her example as a role model.

& by now, I am so tired of patriarchy, I could scream!

Males by virtue of biology (meaning, what they are born with between their legs) have been wired for thousands of years now to believe that they are superior to mere females. Quite clearly, this attitude is a very, very stubborn one indeed. Slight understatement here.

Many patronize, dismiss, limit women in a 100 ways, every day. If not in the home (for there are many non-dinosaur men now), it is deeply embedded in the culture.

Just walk out the door. Read the paper. Listen to the news.

Let’s just say patriarchy has laid such waste to this planet, there is no hope of getting it cleaned up now. And no, I do not “blame men” for all this. I blame the culture. The “system” of patriarchy.

And while I don’t wish to offend friends/family members/colleagues who are fans of organized religion of one stripe or another, I will just understatedly (politely) say, I don’t think organized religion has helped much.

This is what I wish:

I wish we would all stop looking for “perfection” in particular deities, genders, people, professions, currencies … things that are always OUTside ourselves – & strive to be the best people we can be, inside ourselves, & in the world.

(& if we are horrendously self-absorbed, selfish & immature, let us please hesitate before becoming parents)

& let us all take strength from circular processes, not hierarchies & pyramid structures, that place the intelligence, authority, wisdom, somewhere “up there,” outside ourselves … “away.”

Let us examine our own neuroses & weaknesses, shine a little light on our unconsciously-held privileges & entitlements (whatever these may happen to be; I do believe most of us have them), & work to make this world (for whatever length of time we have left in it) cleaner, safer & more humane – for all creatures.

Finally, let us honour, not despise, the female qualities of nurturing & love & compassion & caring for others – for it is surely not these qualities that have led us to this so-precarious place in the history of our species.

me

p.s. great discussion about female confidence in this ‘The Current’ interview with Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, authors of the book The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance -- What Women Should Know.

p.p.s. it was the recent ‘The Current’ interview with Rebecca Solnit that yet again fired me up about feminism, & also made me remember that I am overdue to thank my mother again for the great example she set. Thanks, Mom!! :) :) :) :) :)

p.p.p.s. 2 more relevant articles: ‘10 Simple Words Every Girl Should Learn’ & ’35 Practical Steps Men Can Take to Support Feminism.’

p.s. # 4: the post 'Patriarchy Again' contains a mind-blowing prayer about patriarchy by Matthew Fox. Trust me - you don't want to miss this!

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him think.” – Rebecca Solnit in the interview referenced above.

A few others:

“Well-behaved women seldom make history.” – Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, American historian/writer

“Even if you’re on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.” – Will Rogers

“But matricide also includes within it a kind of patricide as well. The father will become distorted in this process for there is no mother without a father. A distorted fatherhood is what a pathological patriarchy is all about.” – Matthew Fox in The Coming of the Cosmic Christ – The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance, 1988, HarperSanFrancisco

“Underground nuclear testing, defoliation of the rain forests, toxic waste... Let’s put it this way: if the world were a big apartment, we wouldn’t get our deposit back.” – John Ross

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African proverb quoted by Devra Davis at the ‘Cancer: It’s About Prevention, It’s About Time!’ conference in Ottawa, May 2007.

** tons of great quotes in the ‘Quotation Central!’ section of this blog.

Women's Work

<March 4/14.> I’ve been doing “women’s work” all my life.

(Duh.)

Some of it appreciated.

Some of it not.

 

Just like all women

(or many/most; exceptions to every rule, as we know)

 

We work at this, we work at that

Some of it paying

Much of it not

 

Some of it appreciated

Much of it, not

 

We seldom beat our breasts

Insist on recognition

Expect awards, or adulation

 

No need to be heroes

(though much of what so many do is truly heroic)

 

We speak quietly (mostly)

We’re very polite (mostly)

 

We get walked on quite a lot.

 

My point?

 

There isn’t one, really.

 

Just sayin’

Just sayin’

Just sayin’

***

(It’s all just patriarchy, of course.

 

Yawn.)

 

Janet

** & what is “women’s work?” Oh, anything a woman does. Family stuff, work stuff ... whatever. By definition, anything a woman does is always worth less than anything a man does. Or this seems to be the way patriarchy has always viewed things. Female-ness = of less value than male-ness. You don’t have to look far to see this attitude still very much in evidence, I’m afraid.

Patriarchy again.

Patriarchy …. still.

Sigh… 

p.s. I am aware it may be considered ... churlish ... of me to post this. Just a woman being a nag. Bitching again. "Bossy" woman who is never satisfied. Men, of course, are never bitchy, or bossy ... & they never nag. They are simply firm, strong-minded, assertive, sure of themselves. Language can really be interesting, can't it??

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “If ever there comes a time when the women of the world come together purely and simply for the benefit of [hu]mankind, it will be a force such as the world has never seen.” – Matthew Arnold, quoted in Utne magazine

Runners-up: “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” – Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, American historian/writer

“Always be prepared to believe that experts are stupid. They very often are.” – Jane Jacobs in CBC interview with Eleanor Wachtel, Oct. 6/02.

Thomas Merton said it best: “Do not depend on the hope of results. You may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself. You gradually struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationship that saves everything.” (quoted by Carolyn Baker in her book review of the Guy McPherson book Going Dark )

“It reminded me of talking, how what is said is never quite what was thought, and what is heard is never quite what was said. It wasn’t much in the way of comfort, but everything has a little failure in it, and we still make do somehow.” – The Yellow Birds, by Kevin Powers

“Her grief was dignified and hidden, as is most grief, which is partly why there is always so much of it to go around.” – The Yellow Birds, by Kevin Powers

“The cultivation of a stance of invulnerability robs men of a wisdom known to most women in this culture – that people actually connect better when they expose their weakness. Linguist Deborah Tannen, analyzing women’s ‘rapport talk’ versus men’s ‘report talk,’ found that a vital component of conversation between women was what she called ‘trouble talk’ – inviting the listener in by opening up one’s own points of vulnerability. Finally, to the degree to which a man learns to ‘be strong’ and to devalue weakness, his compassion toward frailty not just in himself but also in those around him may be limited or condescending. In this and many other ways, the loss of expressivity and the loss of vulnerability inevitably lead to diminished connection with others.” – from I Don’t Want to Talk About It – Overcoming The Secret Legacy of Male Depression, by Terrence Real

 

 

Patriarchy (again)

I did a posting about patriarchy several years ago now (May 2/09; it’s here). Patriarchy never goes away; would that it had, or would!

It’s in my thoughts again after a friend told me of a dream she'd had recently. As is so often the case with dreams, she couldn’t recall any details - just that it seemed she was announcing the answer to a question about what “the problem” was. In the dream she shouted “It’s patriarchy!!”

Makes me chuckle every time I think about it. :)

As I say, patriarchy doesn’t just go away because we wish it.

& I have way too much other stuff to work on right now to get down in the weeds & talk about it (again).

I do recall an amazing indictment of patriarchy that I’d kind of forgotten about, & ran across recently.

It’s in the form of a prayer, by the very brilliant Matthew Fox. I’m going to paste it in below. It’s a corker; it really is!

Why now? Well, the personal, as they say, is political. One is confronted with certain situations in life that inevitably remind one that patriarchy (& the devaluation of all things female) is still very much with us.

Sucks, eh? But c’est la vie, as they say.

Janet

p.s. in the posting here, I reference books by 2 men who understand patriarchy from the in-side out, & how it affects men (& all of us) today & always. I think you'll find the posting (& especially the books it references) quite worth your time. I'm grateful to have been reminded of the posting/the books. Thanks, blog watchers!!

p.p.s. later posting = 'My First Feminist.' Just re-read & rather enjoyed it. :)

 

Matthew Fox’s brilliant prayer:

A Litany of Deliverance – A Prayer by Matthew Fox

From Patriarchy’s dualism,

From Patriarchy’s proneness to self-pity,

From Patriarchy’s sentimentalism,

From Patriarchy’s violence,

From Patriarchy’s lack of imagination,

From Patriarchy’s intellectual laziness,

From Patriarchy’s lack of authentic curiosity,

From Patriarchy’s separation of head from body,

From Patriarchy’s separation of body from feelings,

From Patriarchy’s preoccupation with sex,

From Patriarchy’s fear of intimacy,

From Patriarchy’s reptilian brain,

From Patriarchy’s anthropocentrism,

From Patriarchy’s cosmic loneliness,

From Patriarchy’s crucifixion of Mother Earth,

From Patriarchy’s envy and manipulation of children,

From Patriarchy’s abuse of women,

From Patriarchy’s homophobia,

From Patriarchy’s righteousness,

From Patriarchy’s idolatry of nationhood and national security,

From Patriarchy’s forgetfulness of beauty and art,

From Patriarchy’s impotence to heal,

From Patriarchy’s sado-masochism,

From Patriarchy’s parental cannibalism and devouring of its children,

From Patriarchy’s lack of balance,

From Patriarchy’s savaging of the earth,

From Patriarchy’s quest for immortality,

From Patriarchy’s ego,

From Patriarchy’s waste of talent and resources, human and earth,

From Patriarchy’s human chauvinism,

From Patriarchy’s compulsion to go into debt to finance its bloated lifestyles,

From Patriarchy’s matricide, spare us O Divine One.

 Prayer by Matthew Fox.

**To be found in The Coming of the Cosmic Christ – The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance, (Appendix D), Matthew Fox, HarperSanFrancisco, 1988.

‘Quote of the Day’ with this post: “The trick is to keep exploring and not bail out, even when we find out that something is not what we thought. That’s what we’re going to discover again and again and again. Nothing is what we thought. I can say that with great confidence. Emptiness is not what we thought. Neither is mindfulness or fear. Compassion – not what we thought. Love. Buddha nature. Courage. These are code words for things we don’t know in our minds, but any of us could experience them. These are words that point to what life really is when we let things fall apart and let ourselves be nailed to the present moment.” – Pema Chödrön in the chapter ‘Intimacy with Fear’ in When Things Fall Apart – Heart Advice for Difficult Times (1997)

Bonus Quote:

“When we light

a candle at midnight

we say to the darkness

we beg to differ.”

– graffiti on Queen St. West wall [in Toronto], quoted in the book Say to the Darkness, We Beg to Differ, by Mary Jo Leddy (1990)

12+ Things I’ve Learned About Men

<July 19/11.>

I’ve compiled the following list of some major things I think a lot of women have learned (the hard way) about men. Gonna be 100% upfront here though: I compiled this list on my own – just me, myself & I. So I’ll just speak for me, little old me, little old Janet McNeill who has as much potential for being wrong as anyone. This is not The Gospel, only the gospel according to Janet. (For now...)

So, if the list sounds like so much B.S. to you, so be it! Create your own list – & have fun doing it!!

2 qualifiers right off the top:

  • I suspect the “younger generation” of men (I’ll leave that definition up to the reader) may be somewhat less inclined to exhibit some of these tendencies. Or maybe not. What do I know??
  • Women can be a right pain in the behind sometimes; don’t think for a moment I don’t know this! We can be petty, mean, gossipy, whiney, vindictive – vicious, even. Definitely, far too many of us are control freaks. I do not celebrate women’s unpleasant habits/tendencies/faults in any way, shape or form, trust me! (Nor do I enjoy those women I encounter occasionally who seem to have some kind of princess complex. Yech!)

 

Now, to the list!

1. Men prefer DOING, or action, to talking. Women know down to our bones (most of us, anyway) that conversation is not just valuable but essential for ironing out knots & gaining insights – about ourselves & each other – & for cutting problems off at the pass. (I know I’ve had many a very wonderful conversation with the men I’ve loved, when they seemed to forget themselves & just talk openly & freely & passionately about something they really, really care(d) about. Those conversations were the best!!!)

2. Men have simply GOT to look. They cannot let a woman walk by without checking her out. Some of them do this in an awful, unsubtle & quite degrading way, while others know how to do it without being the slightest bit obvious. We women know how this subtle form of checking people out works; we do it all the time!

3. Men love, love, love big breasts. Duh. Actually, though, I think men love BIG, period. Big breasts, big projects, big houses, big cars, big decks, big paycheques… big nuclear plants, even. Men just love big stuff. Not gonna try & psychoanalyze this, OK? It just is. (Regarding the big breast thing – I can understand the fascination. Breasts are attractive, arresting objects. But see # 2. Leering is not pretty. Nor is talking to a woman’s chest.)

4. Men don’t apologize. Or explain. Most of them, anyway. Margaret Lee Runbeck said “Apology is a lovely perfume; it can transform the clumsiest moment into a gracious gift.” There is a stupid old expression, “Never apologize, never explain.” Look at the world around us. Does this advice seem to have led us anywhere we really wanted to go?? I rest my case.

5. Most or many men have an air of entitlement or superiority that most of them are probably not even remotely aware they have. My take on this is that our experiment with patriarchy is now about 5000 years old, & its tentacles so deeply wired in us, we’re usually not even aware they’re there. I don’t want to ride the patriarchy hobbyhorse too long or too far, though. Let’s just leave it at that, shall we?

6. Men, in the words of an old friend, are not emotionally “tidy.” I’ve read some interesting commentary on this (e.g., the book Brain Sex(1) & it seems well understood now that truthfully, due to brain wiring/physiology, men do not always easily grasp their own emotions, which (as some writers have pointed out) frequently default straight to anger. It occurs to me now to once again give a plug for the book Becoming the Kind Father – A Son’s Journey, by Calvin Sandborn. A book right at the top of my list of must-reads, for people of both sexes, since it grapples so insightfully with all this stuff I’ve just touched on. Review here.

7. Following on # 6, it seems to be the case that, for many men, they need a woman to be their emotional translator, more or less. (One can only assume that women & men are mutually attracted for a variety of reasons, not all of them immediately obvious. Some things just are, aren’t they??)

8. Men aren’t always thinking. When we ask them “What are you thinking?” & they say “Nothing,” they may actually be telling the truth. I know it’s very seldom that I am not thinking, & women friends tell me they are the same. There is no suggestion here that either sex is “right” or “wrong.” Just more of that “Some things just are the way they are.”

9. There seems to be kind of a lot of  “Mine is bigger than yours” thinking among the male of the species. A lot of pissing contests…you know? Competition. War. Women seem to be more wired for cooperation & collaboration. Maybe this is only in my imagination – but I really don’t think so. I’ve worked with women a lot, & our abilities around cooperation & collaboration really stand out. (The talking piece, of course, is HUGE.)

10. There seems to be a tendency toward a fair bit of  “Ready, FIRE!!...Aim among men. Again, perhaps I am just biased toward a bit more talking & putting off the doing until a little more thinking & talking have taken place. Dunno. What do you think??

11. I suspect men are a little more inclined to hold grudges than women are, though I could be wrong about this.

12. Finally, I think men are in general more resistant to change than women are. (& I don’t think most recognize this tendency in themselves.)

I once came up with a little equation about men that goes like this:

  • A – Action
  • B – Bigness
  • C – Conservatism (or resistance to change).

 

Such challenges we human beings face these days, hmmm???? They seem insurmountable – & the frequent inability of women & men to really understand one another, or the other sex’s strengths & weaknesses, sure doesn’t help matters much.

Ah well. Such is life.

Onward ho!

Janet

p.s. Almost forgot! I also believe that men need/want to be heroes. I wrote about that a few months ago, here

p.p.s. For a very funny take on men – written by a man – do pick up the book Dave Barry’s Complete Guide to Guys. It’s absolutely side-splitting!! His essay about men, women & horses is also pretty darn amusing!

p.p.p.s. Just came across this old post that also has some (pretty irreverent) comments about the male of the species…

p.s. # 4 on Feb. 16/14. I believe many men have lost their moral compass. & that it is usually women who locate/cement/promote the moral compass. Broad strokes here; always exceptions to every rule, of course.

‘Quote of the day’: “Instead of getting hard ourselves and trying to compete, women should try and give their best qualities to men – bring them softness, teach them how to cry.” – Joan Baez, b. 1941, American singer & songwriter

Some other quotations that spring to mind:

  • “Change is a prerequisite for improvement.” – Thomas Guskey
  • “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” – William Faulkner
  • “The Master’s tools will never dismantle the Master’s house.” – Audre Lourde
  • “I consider it a privilege to be at the side of an incredible, powerful woman who’s changing the world, while doing the same – without the need to compete, dominate, or submit.” – Avi Lewis, partner of Naomi Klein
  • “The best political, social, and spiritual work we can do is to withdraw the projection of our shadow onto others.” – Carl Jung
  • “When one does not see what one does not see, one does not even see that one is blind.” – Paul Veyne
  • “Sometimes, power is letting go. We must reclaim feminism as that which makes women stronger in ways that each woman is entitled to define for herself. Ironically, this “letting go” of the rigorous litmus tests of feminism will not make us lose the power of consensus that we have, the common insider fear; it will expand and enrich what we have and draw in millions more. A feminism worthy of its name will fit every woman, and every man who cares about women, comfortably.” – Naomi Wolf in ‘Fire with Fire’
  • “There is an almost gravitational pull toward putting out of mind unpleasant facts. And our collective ability to face painful facts is no greater than our personal one. We tune out, we turn away, we avoid. Finally we forget, and forget we have forgotten.” ~ Daniel Goleman, Ph.D.

 

(1) Brain Sex – The Real Difference Between Men & Women, by Anne Moir & David Jessel, Mandarin, 1989.

 

 

Men Don’t Apologize

** p.s. on Jan. 20/14: just saw a neat Harriet Lerner article about apologies. Must-read!! *******

For some reason this phrase popped into my head this morning. It just seems … true. (Although it ought to go without saying that there are exceptions to every “rule,” & also that there are clearly also some women who don’t apologize…of course!)

A couple of recent experiences have brought this to the fore. Details not the slightest bit important.

Men & the lack of apologies are all tied in with patriarchy (in my opinion).

We’ve lived in a patriarchal culture for 5000 years (according to the “experts”) – & while many, many, many strides have been made by & for women in the past, oh, 40 or 50 years, you don’t wipe out an overwhelming, overarching system like patriarchy in a few short decades. If only!

After being told for generation upon generation that men are better than women – smarter than women – & ought to be & are in charge of everything on Earth – & after untold generations of war & male mistreatment of women & children (still ongoing today, of course, to greater & lesser degrees depending on the geography involved), male privilege & entitlement are very deeply ingrained indeed.

I know men who (still) clearly act as though they know everything about everything…& who are more than ready to pronounce (ostensibly knowledgably) on subjects about which they actually know absolutely nothing. Even when you put inconvenient facts & truths right in front of them, they outright refuse to see the noses right in front of their faces.

It’s pretty astonishing to witness this!

(Now me, of course, I’d have been burned at the stake lickety-split in the old, old days, for being so darn “uppity.” So would many of the women I know & love best. We are a feisty bunch, & feistiness has not always been greatly valued … in women.)

Well. So. Back to apologies, eh?

If you’re from the so-called “superior” sex – & you’re assumed to know absolutely everything about absolutely everything (even though this is quite clearly impossible for ANYone on the planet, whatever one’s gender), & this has been burned into your consciousness from the day you were born (even though you might not be consciously aware of it), I guess it’s pretty darn hard to admit that there is something you don’t know, or might be wrong about, & should perhaps consider apologizing for.

I guess the men who are constitutionally incapable of allowing apologies to cross their lips haven’t ever heard these lovely words from Margaret Lee Runbeck:

“Apology is a lovely perfume; it can transform the clumsiest moment into a gracious gift.”

********

There’s a man (or two) I feel could stand to offer me an apology (or two) for a thing (or two) he/they have done or said (& please know that I am quick to offer apologies myself when I screw up, which happens plenty, or I wouldn’t dare expect others to do so!) – but I’m not exactly holding my breath on hearing those lovely words “I’m sorry for that shitty stuff I did/said” because I know quite well by now that … men don’t apologize!

Janet

p.s. Of course, some men DO apologize, & thanks to the Universe for that!!! Some men are big enough to say those important words “I’m sorry” or “I was wrong” – thank goodness!! And trust me, I am not remotely interested in seeing men being emasculated. One does not have a ton of respect for men who are doormats. Heck, one doesn’t respect people of either sex who have become doormats. Compassion for them? Sure. But not respect. (Making apologies does not make one less of a man – or woman, for that matter… It makes one more of one.)

p.p.s. Couple of relevant book recommendations that spring to mind: The Chalice and the Blade – Our History, Our Future, by Riane Eisler. Becoming the Kind Father – A Son’s Journey, by Calvin Sandborn. Even the book I am currently reading, My Life So Far, by Jane Fonda, has a lot of very interesting stuff in it about female/male dynamics & the wheres & whyfors of war & some ways in which some of this old, awful stuff can be laid to rest. Ms. Fonda has had a fascinating (& inspiring!) life…& there are lots of great quotations in her book, too!!

p.p.p.s. Several months after I posted this, I posted an item called 'Men: 12 Things I've Learned.'

p.s. # 4: 6 months after posting this. Well hooey!! One of the men referred to as possibly owing me an apology, actually apologized to me. Change is always possible, isn't it???

p.s. # 5: (2 years after posting this!?) I've recently experienced encounters with an increasing # of women who are not very quick to offer apologies. I guess the sexes are becoming more "equal." Why is it this particular development (i.e., regarding apologies) is not making me feel happy about so-called "equality"??

p.s. # 6: see the note at top about the Harriet Lerner item. Really worth seeing!

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “A clear conscience is more valuable than wealth.” – Filipino proverb

Runners-up for quote of the day:

“Revenge has no more quenching effect on emotions than salt water has on thirst.” – Walter Weckler

“I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.” – James Baldwin

“Anger is often more harmful than the injury that caused it.” – English proverb

“Holding onto a resentment is like eating rat poison and waiting for the rat to die.” – Anne Lamott in Crooked Little Heart

 

Inside Job – The Film

** please please please check out the Don Henley CD by the same name! Awesome lyrics, wonderful music. It is a must-listen! (one of my favourites on that CD is the song "Goodbye to a River.")

Note on March 13th: This is now available on DVD.

Last week a friend whose opinions I greatly value sent out an email message promoting the film “Inside Job” (narrated by Matt Damon). Trailer here Reviews here

So I went to see it last night, here in Toronto.

I’m now recommending that anyone & everyone go & see this film (thanks, Sandra!!)

Just Google it to see if it’s on in your city or town.

I’ve always been extraordinarily dense about how financial matters work – perhaps mostly because they have never interested me much. I know I’m smart enough that if I really wanted to understand them, I could. But I’m kind of busy with a variety of other issues, so… this one just doesn’t usually get onto my radar screen.

But I reckon we all need to understand the fallout from the insane financial shenanigans of the folks in the U.S. whose insane greed is so over the top that it occurs to me this morning that they are actually downright demented! (The blog post ‘The Inmates & The Asylum’ may be of some relevance here.) These sick puppies are running the whole show. Heaven help us all!?!?!?

Greed is a common enough human phenomenon, of course. Many of us suffer from the more-more-more disease, & the fallacy that if we buy & have lots more “stuff,” it will make us feel better inside. It all traces back to those not-very-affirming or wonderful (& usually highly neurotic) childhoods so many of us experienced. Of course patriarchy plays into it too. & our vastly mixed up culture. It’s complicated, eh? (Well, hmmm, it’s not really all that complicated to understand. To deal with it, though, is time-consuming & challenging. And yet, is there really any other game in town???)

Well. This film is about the financial world colluding in its indescribable & insatiable greed – with, of course, full cooperation from the folks in the White House – to line their own pockets with so much money & leave the rest of us in the dust (“let them eat cake,” more or less, eh?) to the point that millions were left unemployed & losing homes – & on & on this sick, horrid saga goes, to this very day – with the Obama administration’s stamp of approval, unfortunately…& no end in sight.

On the up side? People of integrity made this film. People of integrity within the economic/financial world were interviewed for the film, & they tell us the truth. These people of integrity probably hope other people of integrity will become impassioned about this sorry state of affairs & become involved in trying to change things.

Author/entrepreneur/environmental activist Paul Hawken once said “You can blame people who knock things over in the dark, or you can begin to light candles. You’re only at fault if you know about the problem and choose to do nothing.”

I put it to everyone that, as an old saying goes, “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”

Janet

P.S. And I recommend that folks in the U.S. look into the very awesome group, the Network of Spiritual Progressives, & learn about their principles, conferences, Tikkun Magazine, etc. This group is run by & is chockfull of people of tremendous integrity, with oodles of great ideas for change. They could use your help & support (& you can use theirs!)

P.P.S. Happiness is another thing that’s an “inside job,” hmmm?

‘Quote of the day’ w. this post: “The miracle is this the more we share, the more we have.” ~ Leonard Nimoy

Closest runner-up for ‘Quote of the day’: “The secret of happiness is to admire without desiring.” ~ F.H. Bradley

Other runners-up: “These are the days when men of all social disciplines and all political faiths seek the comfortable and the accepted; when the man of controversy is looked upon as a disturbing influence; when originality is taken to be a mark of instability; and when, in minor modification of the original parable, the bland lead the bland.” – Economist John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006) in The Affluent Society.

“One of the things I argue in my book [A Journey Through Economic Time] is the extent to which people go to avoid rational decisions – the very large role of mental deficiency in economic history.Generally, people have been very resistant to attributing a causal role in history to stupidity.” ~ John Kenneth Galbraith, Economist

“The modern conservative…is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy. That is the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.” – John Kenneth Galbraith quoted in Blessed Unrest – How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being & Why No One Saw it Coming, by Paul Hawken <Pg. 115>

 

 

“The Earth is not dying – it is being killed. And the people who are killing it have names and addresses.” U. Utah Phillips quoted in Blessed Unrest – How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being & Why No One Saw it Coming, by Paul Hawken <Pg. 115>

 

 

 

Funny (& Smart) Things Friends Have Said...

<written April 5/09>

I have an amazing circle of women friends. Plato said “Your wealth is where your friends are,” & his insight explains my considerable wealth.

My friends are awesome. Women are awesome. (Men are pretty cool too, but that’s a different essay, hmmm?)

My friends are smart. They say some amazingly astute things sometimes. Some very, very irreverent things sometimes too. As do I. I’m not going to quote the hilarious stuff a friend & I said one time about 2 x 4’s. Not fit for a family publication, as they say… This same friend once also hilariously said “Diarrhea will humiliate us all” & I just about fainted, I laughed so hard. This woman is smart, pretty, compassionate, wise & incredibly generous-spirited. How I’d get by without her friendship, I can’t even begin to imagine…

Another friend said something recently that I really, really liked hearing.

I want to preface what follows with the comment that some of my friends & I have been through some seriously challenging times in the past, oh, six months & one or five or ten or 15 years. Details not important, hmmm?

M. said she’d realized that, although she’d love to have a man in her life, she knows she is (& has) everything with or without one.

What a powerful (& perhaps rare) realization this is…

This woman is a delight. She’s been through really hard times in her life – yet she is joyful & cheerful & open & loving, & she just keeps right on growing & changing & being a great person & friend. Among other things, she knows the power of yoga & music & dancing & singing & walking, & she’s the one who introduced me to the great Louise Hay DVD ‘You Can Heal Your Life.’

I’ve done quite a bit of musing (a fair bit of writing too) about patriarchy in the past few years. Eventually, maybe, I’ll post my essay ‘Patriarchy Sucks’ & maybe I’ll publish my “Letters to Rebecca: Musings on motherhood…& feminism & patriarchy & female/male relationships & the state of the world…” book (it has lots of musings about patriarchy in it).

Meanwhile, the quick & dirty on women thinking we are “incomplete” without a man?

Hah!

I like having a man in my life (I like it a lot!) – but only if the relationship is authentic. Characterized by trust, honesty & talking (not to mention plenty of laughter; gotta be able to laugh, hmm?).Not always possible, apparently… (I think I will wonder to my dying day why laughter becomes such an early casualty in relationships. Thank God we women laugh so much when we’re together…)

I think I may have shocked someone recently when I declared (quite without meaning to; sometimes these things just rocket right out of my mouth), “I can live without a man, but I can’t live without chocolate.”

But it happens to be true! (maybe I could learn to live without chocolate. But…why would I want to?? There is a limit, surely, to what we must learn to live without?)

Anyway. This little essay didn’t go where I intended at all (& I haven’t even scratched the surface of smart & funny things friends have said). But I had fun writing it, &, as Kurt Vonnegut would have me say, if that isn’t nice, I don’t know what is…

Janet

P.S. on May 23/10. Here's something clever (& funny!! It's a 2-for-1 deal) good friend Barb said the other day: "I'd rather have my flaws staring me right in the face, than biting me in the butt." Gotta love that one...

‘Quote of the day’ w. this post: “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.” ~ Douglas Adams

Becoming the Kind Father: Book Review

**January 3/13 -- 18 minute TEDx Talk 'Journey to a Man's Heart' by Calvin Sandborn here

<written in late 2008, 1st posted in early 2009; revised & re-posted now!>

Full Book Title: Becoming the Kind Father – A Son’s Journey, by Calvin Sandborn (New Society Publishers, 2007).

Are you already a kind father? Kind mother? Kind non-parent, or kind person of any description?

Wonderful!

I’d suggest that you consider reading this book anyway, because it is truly a book for everyone.

This is a book that explains – from the in-side out – why so many men are chronically angry, impatient & unable to articulate (& thus understand) their own emotions. Lots of men are frequently grumpy, impatient & exceedingly judgmental of others – but have no idea why they are this way. Most probably “caught” it from their fathers. I recall once talking to a mother of 12 who said children “soak up their parents’ values like a sponge.” We parents “infect” our children with lots of less-than-useful attitudes & behaviour patterns. We can really only learn to jettison our parents’ harsh attitudes and judgments (of ourselves and of others) if we can begin to recognize where our own have come from. Emotional intelligence is power!

I find the title of this book almost unfortunate in some ways, because one might tend to gloss over it, thinking one is not the intended audience. Either one is already a “kind father,” one has a “kind father,” or one is not a man, and thus has no need to read it at all (unkind fathers aren’t a very likely audience either, really, although one wishes it might be so).

Maybe it would have been better to call the book “Understanding Those Godawful Mean, Alcoholic Fathers –Thousands of Years of Patriarchy & What It Means to ALL of Us”... or something along those lines. Yes, I know, not really a viable idea…

At any rate, this is a wonderful, brave and sensitive book, & I suspect many men are probably too scared – or too defensive...to read it.

Please read it anyway!!!

If you’re a kind father, kind mother, or neither, but are a human being on Planet Earth in the year 2010, I’d say, this book will be worth your time. It’s a fairly quick read, and written so well & with such honesty & compassion that it goes down very well indeed.

It explains how humanity’s very long experiment with patriarchy has been damaging men for thousands of years – & how the author broke free of it (hint: it took a crisis). It discusses how men need to learn to feel their emotions, recognize and articulate these emotions (i.e., not simply deny that they exist & squash them down year after year after year), and talk more – and why their fathers were, in so many cases, mean, impatient, angry men – maybe alcoholics to boot (certainly something with which a great many of us are entirely too familiar). It also explains why most males don’t really trust one another, from a pretty early age.

The book explains, from the in-side – i.e., from a man’s own perspective – why so many men are chronically angry & even become more or less hardwired for anger. The staggering health & emotional costs to our society of all this anger are also made clear.

As well, very practical tips for how we can change these unfortunate patterns are provided. The importance of learning to let go of ancient resentments & learning how to forgive is highlighted. Forgiveness is not a simple thing, as those who have been deeply abused are well aware, but Sandborn gives it full justice (& an entire chapter, called “Forgiveness & Freedom”). He references the work of the Stanford University Forgiveness Project & its impressive achievements in Northern Ireland.

The author also talks about his own childhood with an angry father, & how he eventually changed his own life and became a “kind father,” not just to his children, but to himself. (1) He explains fully how anyone can do this.

The book is brimming with psychological wisdom & insights. Anyone who reads it is certain to learn some very practical lessons.

The reason men will find it particularly compelling is that the story is from a man’s point of view. Sandborn references other very useful books (e.g., one by Terrence Real called I Don’t Want to Talk About It), and includes a (short) suggested reading list at the end.

I would venture to say that there are many women who could also benefit from Sandborn’s idea of becoming a kind parent (of either sex!) to oneself. Lots of us had some not-very-excellent parenting – sometimes from fathers; in some cases, from mothers…

But don’t take my word for it! Go here & check out the information there. You can even listen to the author read on the New Society Publishers site.

Why am I writing this review? I think this is a very well-written book, filled with wisdom & insight, that could help lots and lots of people. Challenging times are upon us, readers – I think we will all need to have our wits about us, in as many ways & as much as humanly possible, in the days to come…

Janet

p.s. Another great book for helping us all understand the nature of many father-son relationships (and a little about the fallout from our 5000-year experiment with patriarchy) is The Last American Man, by Elizabeth Gilbert, Penguin Books, 2002. Stunning book… p.p.s. Perhaps you are a man who says, “Oh heck, I don’t need this book. I understand all that stuff already.” To which I reply, “Sir, I don’t buy it. You may understand some of this on the intellectual level – but I am willing to bet you don’t get it in your guts. Until you get it in your guts, you really don’t get it at all.”

p.p.p.s. If after reading this book it occurs to you that you might benefit from some help with your relationship with your wife/husband/partner, I also recommend the book Healing the Wounds in Couple Relationships, by Martin Rovers. Rovers hasn’t just written a book, he gives occasional workshops (on behalf of Serenity Renewal for Families, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) that he calls “Healing Love in Couple’s Relationships” (when I went, it was called “The Dance of Wounds in Couple’s Relationships”). I found both his book & his workshop very helpful indeed.

p.s. # 4: Yet another useful book is BrainSex – The Real Difference Between Men & Women, by Anne Moir & David Jessel. This quick read explains fundamental brain differences & the resulting behaviour differences between women & men.

p.s. # 5, years later: I've recently done a post called 'Patriarchy (again)' since the ugly head of patriarchal behaviour seems to be rearing itself constantly (patriarchy = the neverending story, hmmmm?). There is a quite brilliant prayer about patriarchy by Matthew Fox in the posting. You don't want to miss it!!

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “The way we were treated as small children is the way we treat ourselves the rest of our life.” – Alice Miller, 20th-century therapist & writer

Runners up” for Quote of the Day:

“If you do not tell the truth about yourself, you cannot tell it about other people.” – Virginia Woolf, 1882-1941

“We live in a world that has practiced violence for generations – violence to other creatures, violence to the planet, violence to ourselves. Yet in my garden, where I have nurtured a healthy soil-plant community, I see a model of a highly successful, non-violent system where I participate in gentle biological diplomacy rather than war. The garden has more to teach us than just how to grow food.” ~ Eliot Coleman, ‘Four-Season Harvest’

“Love doesn’t just sit there like a stone: it has to be made like bread, remade all the time, made new.” Ursula K. LeGuin

“A dead end is just a good place to turn around.” – Naomi Judd


(1) As Sandborn well understands, compassion & forgiveness need to begin with ourselves. When we can forgive & be compassionate toward ourselves (something that takes much effort and practice!), we then become much more compassionate & forgiving with others.

 

Stainless Steel Woman? Not…

<April ‘09>

It is such an interesting life, is it not??

It’s an interesting & challenging time to be a human being on Planet Earth (shoot – due to our appalling human shenanigans it’s even challenging to be a critter or any kind of living anything these days…but I sort of digress).

My own life is certainly challenging – & in the past few years I’ve come to see quite clearly that my own little life is merely a microcosm of the macrocosm. I’m only a wee speck, but my wee speck-ness is infused with all the same…qualities & happenings & challenges…as the “big picture” is.

My challenges & problems & “issues” are not merely not unique – they’re utterly symbolic of the “big picture” problems & issues & challenges.

I’m a little walking Earth story – a little walking Human Being story (we all are) – it’s all, as they say, connected

Life has conspired to bring me certain experiences – certain lessons, certain learnings.

Paternal and/or male rejection has played a big role in my life. I’m not trying to gain anyone’s sympathies here, don’t misunderstand me (heck – it’s a common enough story, is it not??). I consider myself greatly, greatly blessed in this life & am super-super-super grateful that mine was not a case of maternal/female rejection, which I think is probably quite a good deal harder to transcend. Bear in mind here, I’ve worked in both the psychiatric & correctional fields, so I’ve seen quite a bit.

Okay. So, rejection happened (kind of like that other thing that is said to happen, hmm?).

Other large rejections have come my way, too, & somewhere along the way I sort of came to conceive of myself as “Stainless Steel Woman.”

Not just me. Many of the women I know are very, very strong. We’re a tough bunch. We’ve had to be, hmm? Patriarchy’s a tough gig, & we’ve been in its clutches for some 5000 years now (so I’ve heard, anyway, from the more scholarly folks).

Whatever you may think about patriarchy (I suspect most folks don’t think about it at all), we women generally have a whole lot of B.S. to contend with, right from birth on. (So do men, of course, but I’m happy to let men write about their end of the deal.)

Most of the women I know personally carry very, very heavy loads, one way & another. We carry a lot of crud, we fall into a lot of crud, we even get pushed into quite a bit of crud – & somehow, most of us (lots & lots of women I know personally) carry on with our heads held pretty darn high. We behave with class & generosity, we raise our children well (mostly), we love the men in our lives rather well, all things considered, & we do a quite astonishing amount of good in the world. We do so much, & so well, that in some cases I think we can come to feel – & be perceived as – Stainless Steel Women. Invulnerable. Impervious to pain & betrayal.

We’re so darn good at dealing with the s-it the world throws our way that we begin to fool ourselves – & the men around us – into thinking we are invulnerable. So they keep right on loading on the crud.

But guess what, ladies?

It isn’t stainless steel we’re made of. Nor, as my dear friend Anne points out, would we want to be. As she said to me in an e-mail message recently, it isn’t stainless steel we’re made of. She prefers to think of herself as being made of “soft white pine. I don’t avoid the stain of pain, I soak it up, absorb it and carry it along without it damaging me. Instead of rigidly withstanding any additional load with a fixed strength and intensity, the pine bends and stretches, reaches and supports, shades and protects as much or as little as needed. There is flexibility and resilience; even in times of sunshine there is the gentle whisper in the needles. I love the big trees and their ability to withstand all manner of weather and usage.  They are sometimes scarred or twisted by their journeys but they endure and endure and endure and are more interesting and beautiful for their individuality.”

I like this image very much. As it happens, I’m pretty crazy about trees myself. And a really big admirer of women & our special female qualities. (1)

Our very strength is our ability to bend. We don’t always “stand firm” – we bend with the wind/our circumstances. We bend, we fall down, we grieve, we cry – we feel & express the whole darn human range of emotions. And that’s why we don’t break. We’re not brittle – we’re flexible. We’re not unfeeling; we are not made out of stainless steel.

But oh goodness me, we are strong, aren’t we?

Janet


(1) There is a blog post called “Women Are Awesome” which you might enjoy...

 

Missing the Boat?

<written April ‘09 & posted on Mothers' Day 2009>

I’m a bit of a broken record, I know, on a few key topics. Gratitude, the scourge of patriarchy, & the importance of motherhood.

I’m not even going to apologize for this!

I’ve written lots about the value of motherhood, and of female qualities – & about patriarchy.

The thing that breaks my heart the most about patriarchy is that so many women have swallowed it so deep, they embody it now, essentially, and quite without knowing it, that they completely undervalue the wonderful female qualities of nurturing.

A lot of women these days seem to view motherhood as unimportant – “disposable,” even.

I think they are missing the boat entirely.

Raising children – doing it well & doing it joyfully – is the most rewarding job there is!

We often hear that many men realize too late – in their 50’s, perhaps – that they “missed the boat” where their children are concerned. They missed their childhood & growing-up years & the opportunity to develop close relationships with them.

I’ve also heard of women movie stars/celebrities who’ve expressed the same regret. They missed their children’s childhood because they were “too busy” – too busy doing so-called “important” things.

In my books, nothing-nothing-nothing trumps the joy – challenges – & rewards – of motherhood. These are endless & lifelong & they cannot be bought – or retrieved, either, if the opportunity is missed.

(Of course, too, our denigration of “women’s work” & our trashing of the Earth are not a “coincidence” – these are deeply intertwined.)

Let’s stop missing the boat, shall we? About motherhood – parenthood – & about the care of our own utterly irreplaceable mother – Mother Earth.

Janet

p.s. & if we choose not to (or cannot) have children of our own, let us remember the words of Amma Chi (1),

“The essence of motherhood is not restricted to women who have given birth; it is a principle inherent in both women and men. It is an attitude of the mind. It is love – and that love is the very breath of life. No one would say, ‘I will breathe only when I am with my family and friends; I won’t breathe in front of my enemies.’ Similarly, for those in whom motherhood has awakened, love and compassion for everyone are as much a part of their being as breathing.”

p.p.s. Since writing this, I've come across a quite lovely book about motherhood called Surrendering to Motherhood - Losing Your Mind, Finding Your Soul, by Iris Krasnow. A very honest & well-written account of the struggle to have & be it all, as a woman - & the joys of at last surrendering to motherhood... Wish I'd written it!!


(1) Also known as Amma, H.H. Mata Amritanandamayi & Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi.

 

Collateral Damage – a VERY short essay

<April ‘09>

We (& when I say we, I mean the entire human race & all the species on the Earth & the Earth it/her/self) are ALL collateral damage – collateral damage of the human race’s unfortunate 5000-year experiment with patriarchy. (1)

The End.

P.S. not THE END, we hope…

P.P.S. I think there are some men who take personal offence when patriarchy is criticized. Please understand: patriarchy is a system. Please also read the essay “Patriarchy: What a Legacy!” – and understand, criticism of patriarchy is never, ever, ever to be construed as criticism of individuals. I think it is only as individuals, though, that we can wrestle with it, “get” how it works and what it means – and begin to dismantle its outposts deep inside our own heads – our own attitudes. Of course, having conversations about it can also be pretty darn helpful and illuminating!


(1) This thought came to me hard on the heels of the “Oh poor me” thought of “I am the collateral damage, as it were, of …” well…never mind. Point being, I went immediately from the particular to the general and…voilà – felt a little better immediately, knowing that indeed, not taking things personally can be a very great comfort! (Please consider reading the “2 Useful Phrases & 1 Provocative Question” essay for more on this very helpful advice about not taking things personally.)

 

Patriarchy: What a Legacy!

p.s. on March 1/14: a much later post on patriarchy here (hint: it includes a mind-blower of a prayer about patriarchy from Matthew Fox.)

<April ‘09>

I’ve mused on patriarchy (& discussed it with friends) a lot in the past several years. Big topic!?

It’s difficult or impossible to really do justice to such a large topic in a short essay – so forgive me if I really only scratch the surface here, alright? (I’ll recommend a couple of books, too.)

Patriarchy as a topic doesn’t seem to come up very much in conversation.

We talk about wars & violence, poverty & discrimination, cancer & the environmental crisis – & many other crises (there is no lack of crisis, is there??) – most of us having no idea, I suspect, that our 5000-year experiment with patriarchy (having men “run the show” & “call the shots”) is actually the underlying cause of all of this stuff; the force that birthed all these scourges.

Lots of us don’t realize there was a time when the female qualities of motherhood & nurturing – a female leadership style – held sway. When our ability to give birth – give life – & nurturing to everyone around us – was valued very highly indeed. That there were goddesses, & goddess worship.

A book I cannot recommend to you highly enough – especially if you were not aware of the problems & long run of patriarchy – & the fact that an alternative paradigm is possible – is The Chalice and the BladeOur History, Our Future, by Riane Eisler.

Well. I better keep this short or I’ll lose my audience, hmmm?

After thousands of years of denigrating female qualities & relegating women to roles of subservience (& convincing us all, female & male alike, of the lack of value of “women’s work”), even most of us women no longer truly value what I’ve come to see as our finest qualities – the ones that, truthfully, make life worth living!

Instead of turning things around & encouraging the adoption of more “female” (i.e., more peaceful, loving, cooperative, nurturing) ways of running things on the planet, an awful lot of us have come to view motherhood as virtually a disposable commodity. It isn’t “important.”

In my books, motherhood – giving birth to, & nurturing “the next generation” (which after all, is the one that will parent all the ones thereafter, really!) – is not only important, it’s the whole freakin’ deal!

And here we’ve been apologizing for it, now – downplaying its importance – for, well…generations now!

Patriarchy says men (& “male” qualities) have all the answers. That “might is right.” That war & violence are acceptable “solutions” to problems. That “bigger is better.” That motherhood & mothering & nurturing are not “important.” That a woman who is without a man is not fully a woman.

And so on.

Of course, lots & lots of us now see the folly (did I say folly? Evil might be more the term) of the patriarchal mindset.

But it is deeply, deeply entrenched in us. In our religions, in our institutions, in our ways of doing things, in our minds, in our language…and in our daily lives.

Patriarchy has done – continues to do – horrific damage to all things female. All things, period!

It has done even more damage – if you ask me – to men. And boys.

Patriarchy is a curse, & a scourge.

I cannot see us making the kinds of transformations needed on this planet without a more universal understanding of how terribly deeply patriarchal ways of thinking & behaviour are rooted in us.

As already mentioned, The Chalice and the Blade can really open your eyes. A must-read!

So is Becoming the Kind Father – A Son’s Journey, by Calvin Sandborn (a review of which you will find at that link!). Definitely also a must-read – by women and men – but only if you want to be able to understand, from the in-side out, how patriarchy has been damaging men for generations. And how we can all begin putting a stop to it – starting right now, with our very own thoughts.

Janet

p.s. I think there are some men who take personal offence when patriarchy is criticized. Please understand: patriarchy is a system. Criticism of patriarchy is never to be construed as criticism of individuals. I believe it is only as individuals, though, that we begin to wrestle with it, “get” how it works & what it means – & begin to dismantle its outposts deep inside our own heads – our own attitudes. Of course, having conversations about it is also pretty darn helpful & illuminating!

The Old Poops Club

<Oct. ‘07>

URGENT JOB POSTING!!

Help Wanted:

Old poops to bring new…well, old…blood and … energy??...to membership in Old Poops club that is seeking to halt planet-saving activities from taking root. Age no barrier! (“Old Poopism” is often apparent even in very young persons. It is more a function of personality than of age.)

Qualities Being Sought:

  • Rigid, straightline thinking; no new ideas, pullese!!
  • Slavish adherence to patriarchal principles such as entitlement, hierarchy, the inalienable right of certain groups (e.g. males, white people) to run the show/hog the whole pie, etc. etc. (Note: Some women are as addicted to patriarchy/hierarchy as some men… This is definitely an “equal opportunity” opportunity!)
  • Frequent utterances such as “But we’ve ALWAYS done it that way” and “If the government says it’s okay, then it must be okay!”
  • Slavish obsession over the appearance of one’s person, one’s house and especially one’s lawn
  • An incapacitating horror of dandelions on one's lawn
  • Excessive employment of tools such as leaf-blowers, whipper-snippers, lawnmowers, sprinklers, etc.
  • Tendency toward minimization – if not outright denial – of serious environmental problems and stubborn, systemic social problems
  • Addiction to denial, secrecy, lies & entitlement
  • Utter lack of regard for the young of the planet, who are to be left with the consequences of rampant denial, stubborn patriarchal ways, terminal consumerism and old poop-ism itself.

Now – some “old poops” are really relatively harmless old (or young) coots.

Others are actually downright venal and evil – and do things routinely that directly cause grievous harm and even death and destruction to human beings and the environment (certain now-ex-U.S. Presidents come quickly to mind, along with certain corporate hotshots whose dealings leave their hands deeply stained with blood).

The old “old poops” have nothing to lose – they are already living on large incomes and/or safe (probably indexed) pensions. Young “old poops” are run off their feet on those treadmills invented by Homo Industrialus – running, running, running to keep up with the virus of greed & desire that eats up Homo Sapien/Industrialus from the inside out – shouting daily “More, more, more!” (thanks to endless advertising and media haranguing).

With life expectancy currently running at 83 for the average North American female and 78 for the average North American male, recruits for the Old Poops Club are fairly readily available.

Please help spread the word!!

If we’re not careful, humans may become infected with the frightening virus of hope, inspiration, energy and caring for the Earth and its many threatened species (Homo Industrialus among them) – and actually TAKE ACTION!?!?!?!

The need for new Old Poops is an URGENT priority!!

Flap your wings!

It’s funny how often lately references to ducks seem to come up for me.

I’ve written a book about motherhood called Letters to Rebecca Musings on motherhood…& feminism & patriarchy & female/male relationships & the state of the world… (help finding a publisher most welcome!! ) & in it I muse on Mother Duck. Mother Duck knows her job: raise the brood. Straightforward, hmm?Then there’s “water off the back of a duck,” meaning it just slides off – lets go…

In The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle observes that when two ducks get into a tussle, they end it by flapping their wings & swimming off. Far as we can tell, they don’t stay mad or carry a grudge. Just flap their wings & get on with life.

Just think! If the members of the human race could do a little more wing-flapping & a little less obsessing over hurts & grievances, wallowing in anger & resentments & the “Oh poor me” game (a whole lot more singing & smiling would be great too – these are inevitable mood-lighteners!), think what a different world it would be, hmm?

Let’s all learn to flap our wings, shall we? Then life will be just ducky!

‘Nuff said.

Janet

P.S. As previously mentioned, Eckhart Tolle’s books & audiotapes (& especially his Webcasts with Oprah) can help us all enormously to transform ourselves…& the world, while we're at it!

P.P.S. There are other items on this blog about Eckhart Tolle & ducks. "Pain Bodies on Parade or, Oh, to Be a Duck" & "Ducks Unlimited; Humans? Also Unlimited."

Entitled: What Are We Entitled TO?

<Jan. 2009>

Pretty much everyone I know (with very few exceptions indeed) leads a very, very comfortable life – physically & materially comfortable (if not always emotionally so). We lead lives of privilege.

We live in warm & comfortable & well-furnished houses, we have plenty of food, lots of nice clothes, most of us have a car (or two), we take vacations to neat places, & we have never had to worry our pretty little heads about where our next meal is going to come from.

Surprisingly, I’m not sure most of us are particularly grateful about our comfortable, privileged lives. An awful lot of us seem to do an awful lot of whining & complaining. We want more. We’re always raising the bar on our desires. I think it’s because we have come to feel entitled. We’ve led comfortable lives, & now we feel entitled to the comforts & privileges we’ve come to take for granted.

Entitlement is nothing new, of course. It’s been around as long as hierarchy has – & since I’m no historian, I’m not going to estimate how long that’s been. Patriarchy (the belief that all things “male” are superior to all things “female,” & that males should “run the show”) is estimated to be 5000 years old – & perhaps hierarchy is even older; who knows? – but in other words, the sensation of entitlement – I’m “owed” such & such just because I am male/white/a tribal leader…has been around for a pretty darn long time.

Entitlement is a pretty serious scourge, it seems to me. It’s at work at all levels of human endeavour, for sure. People who have lots of money & power seem to think they are “entitled” to all kinds of special privileges. Some folks with special letters after their names seem to think they are entitled to special privileges too. Sometimes, people who had very tough things happen to them in their childhood seem to think they are “entitled” to some kind of neurotic payback from friends & loved ones for the rest of their lives. And some people who were for whatever reason over-indulged as children seem to think the same thing. “I am special; the world owes me…”

I’ve been musing on what we are really & truly entitled to on this voyage here on Planet Earth.

Are we really entitled to anything?? Just because we were born, are we entitled to… any kind of anything at all?

Am I any more entitled to a life of privilege than any of the other 6.5 billion souls on the planet?

Hmmm. I really don’t think so. Or even, when it comes right down to it, that I am entitled to …. life & breath, as far as that goes.

I think it’s more the case that I owe…the Earth? the gods? the Universe?... profound gratitude for my life – & for my comfortable circumstances, & for this life of privilege that I have somehow been given due to no particular achievement or wonderfulness on my own part.

John F. Kennedy famously suggested that we “Ask not what my country can do for me, but what I can do for my country.”

I suspect we’d all do well to take a page out of his book, muse for a while on this phenomenon of entitlement & ask ourselves occasionally, “What do I act as though I am entitled to – & am I really?” & how might we turn this phenomenon on its head?

Tuli Kupferberg said, “When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge.” A little pattern-breaking might not be such a bad thing right about now, hmmm?

Janet