Last week I wrote a post about how our culture continues to marginalize the concerns that are at the center of so many women's lives -- whether parenting or relationships or our educational system.
That post resonated with many women. I received more than a hundred responses saying "Yes, thank you for saying what I've been thinking" and "This hits the nail on the head."
The question at the heart of this post is: so, what to do? What should we do, living in this time when patriarchal values still shape our social, political and economic realities?
For me, the answer lies in one simple phrase: There is another way. The answer lies in women trusting themselves when something in them whispers, There is another way.
There are moments, I promise you, when you encounter some aspect of our world -- something you see on the news or in your office or at your child's school and you know: This is not the only way to do things. There is a better way.
That feeling may arise when you look at our food system or energy consumption, or when you think about how we reward and punish children. "There is another way" may come up when you look at how people are managed at your workplace or when you observe how our government is operating.
"There is another way" shows up around diverse specific situations, but every woman knows that something very deep connects these moments. In each of them, she is experiencing a world organized by a different set of values, a different sensibility, a different way of seeing than her own. She is witnessing a world in which it seems as if someone decided, long ago, that the most important things should be cast to the margins, or relegated to the bottom of the priority list, because there is no room for them among the necessities of "the real world."
I think many of us are often searching for the words to articulate what is wrong, what is missing, from the world. The words are hard to find, because it is hard to talk about the water in which one has swam since one's very first day of life.
The pivotal shift women of our time are called to make is this: seeing -- and saying -- that the status quo is not just "the way it has to be." It is one way the world evolved, privileging a particular set of priorities over another. Because of that privileging, our world is very out of balance, and both people and planet are in trouble.
We've all been taught to silence and doubt the feeling of "There is another way." We've been told a hundred times, "Oh no, honey, there actually isn't another way. Lots of smart people have thought about this, and there just isn't a better way. War is a necessary evil. Violence is a part of the human condition. Child abuse will always exist. Schools will always be underfunded. People are and will be greedy. Sorry dear, it's the way it is."
When we were five, or six, or seven, this silenced us. This made us doubt our own knowing. But now we know better. Now we can trust our instinct that there really is another way.
Trusting that instinct is step one. If there is a step two, it's this: being more committed to realizing a new future for our planet, than to being liked, approved of by all, not criticized by the people around us. Visionaries stir things up.
Let me tell you: you will feel crazy, and you will be called crazy. You are doing the work of imagining a different possibility for our society. At times you will be criticized. At times you will be called insane, naïve.
When women feel some spark, some inkling inside of "there is another way (and wow, it's really different than this way)" they are taking the first step toward saving the world. They are not being idealistic or naïve, but wise and brave: wise to see the problems inherent in the status quo and brave enough to say, there is another way, and we must pursue it, for the sake of the wellbeing of this planet and its inhabitants.
So, let's make a pact: that when that phrase -- there is another way -- arises in each of us, we will listen and trust it. We will trust our critiques and our visions. We'll trust that we hold as much authority on the topic of what is possible than those who would call us naive. In that way, we will begin to correct what has gone wayward in our world, and restore sanity to the many insane systems now at work.
If you have a vision for how things could be different, share that. If you don't have the vision, then share your critique. Sometimes, we women want to be positive, and believe we can't share a critique unless we can also offer a solution. But sharing critiques begins to shake the boulder of the status quo and talking about what has gone off track spurs conversation about solutions.
When your friends rant and rave with their critiques, and share their visions about how it could be different, remind them how valid and brilliant and needed their ideas are. Remind them that they are ready to go to work realizing those visions; they don't need another degree or some special skill they lack. Remind them that they are ready now because you can see that, and probably they cannot.
It is time to create a different world, and it is our most wild new ideas, our creative visions, our persistent knowing of "it could be different" that will create it.