A Woman’s Rights

woman beach Wollstone

Today is International Woman’s Day, an opportunity to focus on women’s rights around the world. It’s 2017, so let’s call the question: Do women have equal rights? The short answer is no. Globally, they still don’t have access to the same educational opportunities as men, the same employment opportunities as men, or the same civic opportunities as men. In a world where there has been some form of modern democratic republic for 2500 years, women only gained the right to participate in their republic through universal voting less than 150 years ago (New Zealand is said to be the first modern country to give women the vote). And in the US, it’s been less than 100 years. Staggering, isn’t it?

Some see the fight for women’s equality as a battle for power. Who gets to control the home, the state, the nation, the world. But I think it’s much less grand than that. I agree with Mary Wollstonecraft; women’s rights start with the basic right to control themselves.

Mary Wollstonecraft (1759 – 1797) was an eighteenth century writer and philosopher generally acknowledged as a founder of feminist thought. Her advocacy of women’s equality and her critiques of the conventional femininity of her day became increasingly important with the growth of the feminist movement. A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792), in which she argued that women are not naturally inferior to men and deserve the same rights, is a feminist classic. And yes, that was written 225 years ago. 225 years! One of my favorite signs at the Women’s March last January comes to mind here: I can’t believe I’m still marching for this shit!

Sadly, I suspect poor Mary Wollstonecraft must be rolling in her grave these days. Here in the US, a woman’s right to control herself and her body are still being challenged and she is still paid less than a man for doing the same job. Globally, a European legislator recently stated that women are “weaker, smaller, and less intelligent.” Seriously? In 2017? In Pakistan (and many African nations) over two thirds of young girls have never been to school.

So yes, it’s pretty clear that on our planet, women (and girls) do not have equal rights with men. And while progress is being made, it’s not coming fast and furious. In spite of a landmark Supreme Court decision in the US last year, during 2016 US state politicians introduce more than 500 bills restricting access to reproductive health care for women. And how many laws are there on the books regulating men’s bodies? Right. Exactly zero.

Clearly, there is much to be done to reclaim balance in our world and I believe it must start with giving women the same rights as men. Especially the right to control themselves. Onward, people, there is work to be done! Happy International Woman’s Day!

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Equality, Balance, and Fear

globe-hands

A culture where status, rights, and opportunity aren’t granted equally to all citizens cannot say that it values equality. In the absence of equality, selective supremacy exists granting some citizens more privileged than others. Supremacy and privilege are hallmarks of cultures dominated by yang energies. The aggressive, every man for himself, hierarchy-loving focus of these cultures is very yang. These days, we label cultures like this “patriarchies” because they are male-dominated. Yang cultures hold as sacred the belief that the ends justify the means, winning always matters, and the use of force to solve problems is acceptable.

The end result of embracing these concepts is a civilization that glorifies personal and financial success, places individual rights over the good of the collective, and engages in violent activities and wars. This inevitably creates a class-based culture that, by definition, is not a culture of equality.

Equality, on the other hand, sits in the energy of yin, which is the balancing energy to yang. Yin is the receptive, greater good-embracing, equality-loving focus that epitomizes the more agrarian cultures that stick together to survive. Cultures that live by yin principles hold as sacred the belief that the way we do things matters, we are all in this together, and kindness builds bridges that matter.

A culture that embraces these concepts could be called a matriarchy. It would be a civilization that values diversity, places the greater good over individual rights, and engages in peace. I say “would be” because there isn’t a pure matriarchal culture anywhere on Earth at this time. And really, we don’t need pure matriarchies. What we need now are cultures with a balance of yin and yang energies to bring us the best of both, including equality for all.

A quick look at America these days tells us that we do not have a culture of equality here. We want to, our guiding documents say that we should have equality, but it’s not happening. Instead, we have a yang-dominated culture that pays lip service to yin principles. The good news is that the fix is straightforward: When there’s too much yang, the way to balance it is to add more yin. And that’s starting to happen. As I said in my last post (The Women’s Marches: Witness the Power of Yin), the marches and rising up of millions of people is the beginning of bringing in more yin energy. But there is more we must do right away, and it is crucial.

To reclaim balance in our yang cultures, we need to address fear. Many of our leaders use fear to govern. Fear of lack, fear of the other, fear of reprisal, fear of failure, fear of violence, etc. And this is insidious because fear weakens yin; it takes it to a place of extreme withdrawal that makes hope, trust, and action almost impossible. We must not let fear take us there. We must embrace hope, we must step into trust, and we must act on the belief that each individual matters. The balancing power of yin is the strength of people standing together. We need to do this, but let’s be truthful; it isn’t going to be easy. Fear is one of yang’s most potent tools. As Machiavelli said in The Prince, when one is going to rule, it is far better to be feared than loved.

But we can do it! We can begin by monitoring our own levels of fear and, when necessary, reassure ourselves and others. We can refuse to listen to those who would govern by fear. We can stay in a place of compassion instead of fear. We can continue standing together and helping each other by refusing to be affected by fear tactics. And when we do this, we will act together for a common good, which is the strength of yin.

If we refuse to be diminished by fear, we will become a balancing force for our country, and our world. And from this balance, this greater inclusion of yin, we will help birth an age of equality for all.

The time is now. Are you in?

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The Women’s Marches: Witness the Power of Yin

womens-march

I’ve been a student of Chinese philosophy for decades and as anyone who has read this blog knows, I really resonate with the balancing energies of yin and yang. They are two sides of the same coin, two equal but very different halves of any whole. And it’s the dynamic interaction between yin and yang that keeps the whole balanced. Too dark to see? Add some light. Too hot? Add some cold. No matter what the imbalance is, adding more of the partner will bring balance.

As my January 4 blog pointed out, we have an imbalance between the masculine principle (yang) and the feminine principle (yin) in our world today. Yang ideas, beliefs, and values are more generally embraced by our patriarchal cultures worldwide and most of the troubles we see around the globe can be traced to this imbalance. But remember, the fix for an out of balance whole is to add more of the missing component. That means to reclaim balance we need more yin energy, more of the feminine principle. And guess what? It’s starting to happen!

Last Saturday, more than 3 million women and men around the world stood up for the yin values of compassion, safety, love, fairness, harmony with nature, and equality for all. In the United States, it’s been called the greatest demonstration in the history of our country. And that’s exactly what it takes to remind yang that the goal is balance, not domination. Left unchecked, yang will always go for personal success over working for the greater good. Of course we need both, but in a balanced way.

Pure yang always believes that the ends justify the means, too, and that’s just not true. And it is yin that reminds yang that the means always matter. But because yang is the energy of outward expression and yin is the energy of inward expression, yang always seems more powerful. A single candle is easily blown out by the wind. However, when millions of candles come together it’s much harder to extinguish the raging fire they create. And that’s what happened Saturday. The power of yin, which is the power of the group, spread across the world as a force to be reckoned with. A force that champions human rights, equality for all, the beauty of diversity, and the need for a healthy planet and healthy people.

The marches on Saturday were beautiful, but they were just a beginning. Yin must continue to stand together, act together, and move forward together to bring balance back. Quietness is a hallmark of yin, that is where yin is most comfortable. Yet this is not a time to be quiet. This is a time for the feminine principle to get back on a dance floor that has been dominated by yang for far too long. It is a time for yin to take action, not something that is natural for yin, but something that is very necessary to reclaim the balance our world needs.

Going forward, we need to continue to make our yin voices heard and share what’s in our hearts. Yang is governed by the brain, but it is yin that is governed by the heart. Yin truly speaks for the World Heart. Speak now to anyone who will listen, but especially speak to the government where you live. Local, state, nation, anyone you can. The organizers of the marches have suggestions on how to do this on their website (https://www.womensmarch.com). Or come up with your own ideas. Do whatever feels right to you, but please step out of the yin comfort zone and act. It is the group power of yin that will heal the world.

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Diversity, Fear, and Commonality

animals-mix-deming

Diversity usually isn’t a popular concept in a patriarchy. In general, patriarchies value individual success over action taken for a collective good. Sadly, this can make people in a patriarchy somewhat self-focused. I think it was Ben-Hur who said, “You’re either with me or against me.” And of course, it’s easiest to assume that the ones like you will be with you, which also makes it easiest to assume that the ones not like you will be against you. It’s an effective governing strategy, too. Fear of “the other” makes people easier to manipulate.

Yet I believe Ms. Deming has it right. If we step away from the fear of the different and really listen to each other, we’re going to find that underneath it all we absolutely do have a lot in common. We all love, and care, and cry, and laugh. We are all human, all citizens of our beautiful planet Earth, and we all need each other to survive.

In fact, it is our diversity that offers the key to our survival. The beauty of diversity is, well, diversity: What I lack, someone else will have, whether a skill, a belief, or an asset. They balance me, just as what I bring will surely balance someone else. The truth is that our differences are what give strength and resiliency to the greater whole that is our species.

Just as yin balances yang, or the feminine principle balances the masculine principle, it is in a flourishing culture of diversity that we find the greatest opportunity for reclaiming balance and surviving. And the more we reach out and listen to each other, the sooner we will understand this truth.

Seek Balance:  Is there someone in your life who you fear or distrust?  Can you imagine a conversation with them?  What might you say?

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Balance Needed: Now More Than Ever

Hi Everyone! I’m back from the break I took to finish my Five Elements book, The Five Faces of Relationships. Check out my ASK VICKI blog for thoughts on that topic. But now, on to the important business of Reclaiming Balance!

sunset Catt L

It’s such a beautiful world, our planet Earth. And most people living here are good people, or try to be. But they are like fish that don’t understand the water in which they swim. Because most cultures on our planet are patriarchies, masculine principles are considered the norm. For example, in a patriarchy it’s normal to think bigger is better, it’s normal for divinity to be male, and it’s normal for men to be the primary players in our governments. It’s even normal to believe that the ends justify the means or that kindness doesn’t matter.

But of course, it really isn’t normal; it’s just the way things have been for so long that we don’t think to question it. However, longevity doesn’t make something right. It’s wrong for men to have a disproportionate amount of power in our world.  It’s wrong for nature to be nothing more than a commodity.  It’s wrong for the feminine perspective to be dismissed as irrelevant. It’s wrong for cruelty to be acceptable.

And that means it’s right to try to shift this imbalance in any way we can. The hallmarks of the feminine principle, something we all have but women embody more, need to matter. Kindness needs to matter. Equality needs to matter. The greater good needs to matter for our people and our planet. And for those of us who believe this, who want our world to be loving, kind, and fair, it’s time to stand up.

We need to give ourselves in whatever way we can to help the future in the distance. We need to assist in reclaiming the balance so desperately needed in our world. And we need to do it now. I’m in. Are you?

Seek Balance: How does living in a patriarchy perpetuate imbalance? What needs to change? What can you do? And will you?

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We Need the Yang of Yin

pale runner Baez

In the vernacular of doing versus being, the masculine principle is wired for doing and the feminine principle is wired for being. My usual litany in this blog is that our patriarchal culture needs more of the feminine principle: more love, more compassion, and more acting for the greatest good. However, today I’m going to suggest we zig to zag. To reclaim balance in our culture, I think the feminine principle needs more masculine principle. What?

Our world has been stuck in a patriarchal mode for millennia. By definition, that means men and masculine tendencies are valued more than women and feminine tendencies. Even worse, in many cases feminine tendencies are demonized and suppressed. Clearly, that needs to change. But how? Patriarchal cultures are considered the norm the world over. And they seem pretty entrenched.

I suggest we take a page from the ancient oriental philosophy dealing with yin and yang. These are the two sides of the coin and can be described as a feminine principle (yin) and a masculine principle (yang). The dynamic workings of yin and yang are such that when yin is out of balance in the whole, more yang is added to balance it. The same is true for yang; when there is too much of it, more yin is added. Yang has been out of balance for a very long time in our culture and yin, that feminine principle we all have, is what’s needed to reclaim balance. Now would be a good time. Things look pretty bleak.

So I suggest that Joan Baez has a great point. Rather that letting the state of the world lead us to despair, yin needs to take action. We need more feminine principle, and that means those who carry more yin (usually women) need to step up as a group and let our voices be heard. Speak out! Vote! Write! The power of yin is in the power of the group. People of Yin, let’s get more yang! Let’s take every action we can to bring more equality to the world!

Seek Balance: How can you help manifest more of the feminine principle in your life and your community? Will you do it?

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The Balance of Forgiveness

dandelion Williamson

I don’t know about you, but I usually find my ability to forgive inversely related to how personally I take the infraction. My ease of forgiveness can also depend on the intention behind the infraction.

For example, if my friend’s puppy Bella has an accident on my floor, I know Bella didn’t get up that morning and decide to ruin my carpet, so it’s pretty easy to forgive her. But if people specifically go out of their way to hurt me or someone I love, I find that much harder to forgive. And yet, I believe Marianne Williamson is right; forgiveness will heal the world. That’s because when we forgive, we are reclaiming balance in a decisive way.

Look at it this way: Forgiveness is a move away from the masculine principle’s self-focus and toward the feminine principle’s group focus. Forgiveness is also an act of compassion, which sits in the feminine principle. To forgive means that we raise ourselves out of the personal, out of the realm where we were injured, and view the situation from a compassionate perspective that supports forgiveness.

Plus, forgiveness fosters unity. An unforgiven act drives a wedge between the person who is hurt and the person doing the hurting. This creates separateness, which is an emphasis on the individual over the group. As we’ve said before, that’s a very masculine principle approach to the world. The feminine principle will never justify a cruel act, but it will forgive so there is movement toward wholeness and balance.

No one says forgiveness is easy. But it is something that will help us and our world. And that’s a worthy goal.

 Seek Balance: Who or what do you need to forgive today? Can you do it?

 Thank you for stopping by. If you like what you read here, consider following my Reclaiming Balance blog by clicking + follow. And please help spread the word by sharing this blog with your friends. Thank you!

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