Thursday, December 20, 2012

In the Aftermath of Tragedy


I sit at Talula’s Table, Christmas music straight from the 1950’s plays over the speakers, and little potted Christmas tress festooned with cotton snow and white knitted scarves line the old storefront window. A woman at another table jumps up blurting out that twenty-seven people—children—have died in a shooting in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. Fifteen more are injured. There is a cognitive disconnect between my tea and granola bar and this horrific story. I hear O Holy Night now on the sound system. Where is this new and glorious morn? Perhaps we are not falling on our knees enough or hearing the angel’s voices. Peace on earth is up to us. We can say this was an isolated shooter. Yet again another mad man not like us. We have nothing to do with this, we say. And granted there is individual responsibility in all our actions. Yet there is also a collective responsibility. What is happening on the societal level that precipitates this kind of violence?

We live in a bully universe. US drones kill indiscriminately in foreign lands. Corporations get away with greedy maneuvers that can be slowly murderous. So where is the surprise that a disgruntled individual bully carries out what the collective already has done again and again?

My diatribe will do absolutely nothing to assuage the keening and the mourning of the families in Connecticut who have been so traumatized in this tragedy.


I sit again at Talula’s Table wishing Joni Mitchell were singing over the sound system her Christmas lament, because I too wish I had a river to skate away on.

The last time I sat here was Friday, December 14. The day of the massacre of innocents in Connecticut. Since then there have been numerous incidents of gun violence and children dying, although more anonymously and with no media outcry.

However, perhaps this tragedy that occurred in the midst of Christmas in an upper class quintessential New England town may be the tipping point for a change in consciousness about the pervasiveness of guns in our culture. Maybe now there will be a great turning—away from violence and truly in to a more compassionate collective consciousness.

When I manage to give meaning to the absurdity of life, it helps me not want to skate away on Joni’s river.

I also wonder if these tragedies caused most often by disenfranchised males (usually white) are not signs of the wounded feminine rising. I wonder if with the slow turning of consciousness toward a more compassionate and connected universe that honors the feminine principle that these men are raising the collective patriarchal shadow that resents this and rages against the change.

I reiterate, my philosophical musings do nothing to assuage the keening and the mourning of the survivors of the victims. Nevertheless finding meaning in tragedy is one way of reinvesting in life.

How is it that a young man uses his mother’s guns to start his murderous rampage by killing her? What is this rage against the feminine? If he projected the negative mother archetype onto his own blood, he also projected it onto the women educators who died courageously attempting to protect the children in their care. They, to me, attest to the wounded feminine principle rising even in their dying.

What is the negativity and rage we collectively carry that produces an individual who murders innocent children who represent the future and who murders the women who represent the feminine principle in their stolid compassion?

Here it is, Christmas. Whether you believe in Christ or not, the story of Herod killing the innocents in order to kill Christ can be a telling allegory of our time.

Even if we only imagine Christ as symbolic of love and compassion, we can see in him the integration of the masculine with the feminine principle. Now imagine Herod as the epitome of patriarchal power and domination, the antithesis of feminine principle. So it is that Herod feels threatened by the quiet power of loving kindness and compassion and attempts to kill Christ in a murderous rage, killing all innocent children.

I have no desire to give any specific contemporary murderer the power of meaning or motive. Yet I can’t help but ponder what we need to transform in our collective consciousness to allow the feminine principle to be no longer so wounded. We need a change of heart to embrace the feminine principle of connection and compassion. In the aftermath of tragedy, we see the feminine principle manifested in all sorts of loving acts of kindness. We hear the stories of the  acts of courage displayed by the educators, all women , who attempted to protect the children in their care.We see a nation of people connected in their heartfelt response to this tragedy..

."The beauty that will save the world is the love that shares the pain" (Cardinal Montini). May we continue to uphold the wounded feminine rising transforming grief and mourning with such care.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

My Dream

I had the following dream on November 16, 2012. Dreams can bring validation and clarity to the collective consciousness/unconsciousness as well as to the individual's psyche.I consider this dream to carry a message to be heeded. Here it is:
                 I am in a group. In one corner is an older woman, Mary. She wisely states how all the talk of fiscal cliff is wrong--the rich just need to pay taxes to begin with. People are making this into something it doesn't have to be. 
                 Mary  is quietly speaking in the corner;the group doesn't really hear her and they are crying fiscal cliff cliches.
                I tell the people:"look,my son argues that the fiscal cliff is a bogus issue, that the deficit is not the problem at all what we are led to believe it is.Wise woman Mary, whom we need to listen to, says' tax the wealthy and the problem will eventually resolve.we got here because we stopped doing that very thing'.
                A man in the group is incredulous. But I keep hammering at the idea that the fiscal cliff is about lemmings--just following over the cliff because they aren't thinking about the consequences, of the larger picture.
                The bottom line is about the extent of poverty and the vast dichotomy of the rich and poor.There is no fiscal cliff. We have created a bogus issue because the powers that be want to dissolve government and taxes and want nothing more than to keep the money to themselves.
                I say all this. I don't know if this group in this room gets it. 

I hope we  all listen to the wisdom of our dreams and carry their message of our souls into our waking life.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Presidential Debate

Yes, I watched the debate last night and was admittedly wishing that President Obama would have  had the energy to tackle Gov Romney more forcefully. However, what all the pundits and reporters left and right seem to be  mesmerized by is the costume not the content.The  costume worn for an early Halloween by Romney was that of a caring conservative. Sorry, Romney these days that is an oxymoron.  With mask on tight, Romney energetically and smilingly shared that CURRENTLY no one on Medicare or  social security need worry. That is, if you are over 60 you are safe from the Republicans sword-slashing of "entitlement" programs that we all pay for.Obama did nail him on that one as he looked directly at the camera and  said to pay attention if you are in your 50's!

Romney, with slick and  smirky smile, kept referring what the federal government would no longer do. He kept sending everything back to the states to take care of..He was given the opportunity by Obama to speak his agenda and when he wasn't  lying about the math and the facts, he clearly stated how he was dismantling the federal government and was not raising taxes on the rich and how he was expecting the states...those bankrupt bastions of inconsistencies and take care of the commonweal.....right....righter....rightest.

For the wounded feminine principle to rise, we need to recognize the need for leaders, both men and women, who see our interconnectedness and  care about the common good. Obama appears to be a feminine principled man at heart; Romney, under his mask, is not.Remember content not costume is what is most important. My vote is for the feminine principled man.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Of Course Women Can Hurt Women

Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times today, wrote a commentary,"Women Hurting Women."He was referring to Seikh Hasina, prime minister of Bangladesh, who is dismantling in no short order, the pioneering efforts of Muhammad Yunus. A Nobel Peace prize winner, Yunus championed the economic empowerment of women across the  globe.

How topsy turvy, notes Kristof, that a woman leader who has benefited from reforms that have made it possible for women to have power, would now use her position to destroy a man's life work of empowering  women.

Topsy turvy yet true, that women are no better than men  in succumbing to the inflation of patriarchal power. It is  dangerous to think  simply in terms of gender.  We see Yunus as a feminine principled man and  Hasina as  a negative animus woman here. Perhaps that is not so topsy turvy after all. Both men and women  need to nurture a compassionate heart and need to be  aware that  power's corruptive  influence is gender blind.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Suffering, the Pieta, and the Feminine Principle

Life and death , death and life stories merge... Recently, I attended the memorial service of a friend who died at the age of 104. He was a Renaissance man who  lived life fully and who admired women dearly. I believe he was a feminine principled man who honored his anima within.

He was fortunate to have  a caring family of adult children--who are also getting on in years themselves. His death, even with its attendant grief, could be a celebration of  an enormous life lived with gusto. He was a chemist, gemologist, astronomer, musician, mountain climber whose life would make Zorba the Greek  dance: the full catastrophe.

It is difficult to write linearly- and  in linear time- when everything appears to be happening at once.Of course, hasn't that always been true? Our lives collide with other lives. We are interbeings as
Thich Nhat  Hanh, the Buddhist monk reminds us.

My daughter and her fiance are planning their wedding while I also listen to news of  death and dying. My friend of over 40 years wants to help with the wedding  planning. Meanwhile her sister-in-law  is in the throes of  debilitating cancer treatment; this is in the wake of having lost her husband, my friend's brother, to brain cancer.

We are beings lurching toward death as soon as we are born. Heidegger bluntly stated we are" sein und der tod" beings towards death.Perhaps we are all metaphors of the Equinox/Solstice: you know, Darkness increases until December 21 ( of course, the Southern Hemisphere is our enantiomorph) , then in the in the midst of the Darkness, December 22nd until June 21st we gather more Light each day.So, in the darkness there is light and in the lightness there is the dark. Our darkest days of winter are the harbingers  leading us to June, and  our brightest days of June portend the coming of darkness.

Except  there is predictability with the earth's constant journey around the sun. There is no predictability to our own personal story of the light and dark. Nevertheless, there is a sense that  when we  humans experience life, there is the undercurrent of dark mortality and in the encounter with death there is the counterpoint of life.

In my work, I facilitate a grief group, Survivors of Accident and Murder.Here the members are grieving  the loss of children or spouses, or brothers or sisters, who have died  violently. No one can shore up the hole in the heart created by such immense losses but in the compassionate connection among the "members"of that "community" there is the building of  hope  to find meaning  in life again.To me, this is an examlpe of the Feminine Principle at work. Wherever care and empathy are the priority, there resides the Feminine Principle.

Sometimes, I imagine the Feminine Principle as the Divine Feminine aspect of God.

There at least two visual images that come to mind for me when I think of the feminine principle and compassion. One image is of a Pieta, but not just the most famous  one. For in addition to Michelangelo's  rendering of  Mother Mary holding the Body of  Christ, there is also the depiction by Kaethe Kollwitz of  a mother holding her dead son/soldier. And there are others.

Ironically, a poster of Kollwitz's  sculpture is presented with the columns of the Brandenburg Gate in the background.Recently, a young man attended a presentation I was giving where I had this poster on display.He astutely noted  how the pillars  may be a symbol of crumbling patriarchy.

Beyond this background, the Pieta is a profound image of love and compassion confronting, no, not confronting, but embracing, suffering and death.

I bow deeply to the artists who can find the love and light in stone to make visible for us that which is, so often, invisible.That is, they uncover suffering and the love that caresses it.

The Pieta, then, is the visualization of the Feminine Principle's beholding suffering with a loving heart.

There is another image of the Feminine Principle  which is quite individual to me. It is a drawing  that hangs at the top of our stairs, done by a  local artist, Maria de los  Angeles Morales. In  it, a wondrous dark woman-- Native American or Latin American--enfolds a mammoth bowl of maize in her large lap. Here is abundant earth--life at its fullest being protected by the  Feminine Principle--or Presence.

So there is an interweave of the  pattern of Pieta and Corn Woman: the Feminine Principle facing suffering, the Feminine Principle  celebrating life. There is no either-or. We cannot have the one image without the other. And so death intertwines with life-- and weddings. We hope for new life--grandchildren--even when darkness envelops us.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The politics of Repression and Oppression

Eight years ago, I traveled to South Africa with my son to meet my daughter who was on tour with the Radcliffe choir. Partly ,it was to reconnect with friends from graduate school days, partly it was to see not only where Nelson Mandela and many others  had been incarcerated during the apartheid but also to see animals in the wild.

What I did not expect to encounter was that apartheid had been jut one abominable segment of  the government policy of those despicable  times. The fundamentalist "Christians" who had overtaken the political  life of the nation also shut down science, and censorship of books and films was ubiquitous.

I fear that the Republican right wing has gone just about as far in their ideology as the regressive politicians  in South Africa  did before the end of apartheid. Representative Akin's reprehensible comments about how "legitimate"(!) rape will not result in pregnancy is just the tip of the chilling truth: he spoke what his cohorts think.

  The South African  cave,  where the fossilized remains one of the oldest humans- a woman- had been found, was shut down durng the apartheid era. Scientific work and anthropological studies that would shed light on our evolutionary history were anathema to these patriarchal politicians.

So is it any surprise that legislators who can't comprehend scientific evidence about evolution or climate change would think otherwise about what is true about human physiology and pregnancy?Whatever fits neatly into their solipsistic world of women as inferior and science as  fiction is what they conjure.

I would not give a whit as to what they conjure if it didn't so affect all of society, especially women and anyone disenfrancished. We really need to see what happened in South Africa to get an inkling as  to how repressive the patriarchy can be.When we think patriarchal repression and oppression, we think of Afghanistan and the Taliban. That is blatant, yes. But what happened in South Africa was insidious and it was accomplished by  white males of European descent --and the white women who supported them.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Poison ivy and Pa voter suppression

When I was  around six years old,  an older child, a neighbor of my relatives, picked up a leaf. Holding it in his hand, he said, "this is poison ivy" and proceeded to rub it on my face. I didn't know what poison ivy looked  like, yet I also didn't believe  someone could be so cruel to do such a thing.

He was a bully and I was already, in my little life, setting the stage for victimhood ( it is a complex I am still  unlearning.) Despite the fact that I went running and screaming into my aunt's house where my mother and aunt both tried to wash off the poison, it was a fait accomplis. I developed a horrific case of poison ivy with my face swollen and my eyes shut for weeks. There was no antidote of prednisone then. All there was was  calomine and patience.

I relate this story because I think not only I , but that there is collectively, the sense of "no,that person could not possibly do the unthinkable, could they"? That group can't possibly be out to harm  me (or us)Surely, democracy and justice will prevail.

I  flashed back to my poison ivy incident when I recently read (August 16,2012) that Judge Simpson of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania upheld the Pennsylvania Legislature's voter ID law. This new law is blatantly an act of voter suppression, and yet justice did not prevail,politics did.Judge Simpson is Republican and he, I think, ruled according to party lines. It felt like, yet again, being confronted  by a bully with poison ivy in his hands: "no, you wouldn't rule this way, would you, your Honor"? Admittedly, I choke on the word "honor" here: there is no honor in using the law like a leaf of poison ivy to rub in our collective faces.

The "prednisone antidote"---the Pennsylvania Supreme Court--- is available here. Let us hope  that it becomes the healing remedy to this travesty of justice incurred by Judge Simpson's ruling. may we all be  agents against, not victims to, voter suppression.

Depending on how the state Supreme Court rules, will this be a rise of the Wounded Feminine moment or yet another dollop of dirt on her grave?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Remembrance of House and Sand and Fog


The following is a commentary I wrote  several years ago, but its relevance  regarding the wounded feminine remains........Having  viewed House of Sand and Fog, I don’t know if I am more disturbed by the movie or by the critics’ lack of recognition of what it might be  construed to portray psychologically. Hence I think that an important view of this movie is lost. It is hard to disagree with the critics when they point out the film’s many technical flaws; yet, it also hard to not recall the mesmerizing grip the film placed on me and the vividness with which I recall it afterwards. On the surface, the movie is about ownership of a housethe American dream of the immigrant gone awry. Underneath the tug of war regarding home ownership between an Iranian immigrant, a colonel in the fallen Shah’s Air Force, and a ne’er-do-well recovering addict who inherited the house when her father died but who has neglected to attend to tax collection notices (albeit, erroneously billed, she lacks the responsibility to open her mail to right the matter).

This film  perceived in other terms might be instead a tragic story of what happens in a faltering patriarchy that does not heed the wounded feminine.[1]

Early in the film we see the young woman Kathy in bed waking up to her mother’s phone call. She responds to her mother’s inquiry about her husband with denial. She avoids the truth and tells her mother he is away on businessagain. In fact, he has left her. She, we discover, inherited her father’s house, a find of a beachfront property that is deteriorating in disarray under her “care”. It would seem that she needs to learn how to psychically leave her father’s house and move into her own adulthood. Takeout leftovers, strewn about among other garbage, and unopened mail cluttering the floor by her door indicate that she is still in a hole of despair even if she is not actively abusing drugs or alcohol. She is surrounded by the beauty of nature yet in being so disconnected from it she gains no access to its nurture for her soul.

Note that her own attractiveness seems to enamor some male film critics to the point where they can’t seem to judge her actions impartially. In their critiques, they appear to collude with her. The fact that male critics downplay her responsibility in the tragedy that unfolds seems to me to be “reverse patriarchy” bias. As a woman, I do not find her an endearing character; the Iranian mother Nadi shows her more compassion than I can muster. Kathy has solid choices to make all along the way that would help her out of her hole, but time and again she digs deeper.

When I say this, however, I question how I can confer blame on her for the patriarchy in which she is trapped (my own complex activated, perhaps). Who knows what her family and father issues were before he died? And “patriarchy” is not about men per se. The patriarchal way of life wounds both men and women when it juxtaposes male dominance and authority over women, when it seeks power through might rather than collaboration, when it condones violence and eschews compassion.

The women in this moviesave the legal defense attorneyall seem caught in a patriarchal complex. Kathy, the dry drunk, cannot metaphorically leave her father’s house and grow into her own identity as an adult; and so she is literally evicted. Had she done the psychological work of leaving her father’s house, the tragic circumstances would not have unfolded as they did.

Nadi, the Iranian mother, is subject to the benevolence of her despotic husband. He is caught in his own rigid character structure of how a man “should” beparticularly a man of stature and authority in his home country. It is easy to empathize with his character that seems proud yet having integrity. (I remember my father always keeping his honor and pride intact by wearing his suit jacket and bow tie even when his job didn’t call for thatit was his way of standing talland he was shortin the face of  an American culture that might still consider him an Italian immigrant even though he was born here.)

The colonel is a victim of the patriarchy toohe is so engulfed in his role as male provider that he, like Kathy, is in denial of his truth. His truth is that he works many menial jobs to support his family, that his Italian suits and his Mercedes are mere phantoms of a memory of more. The Behranis live excessively beyond their means so that his daughter can be “successfully” married and they can retain their social status and their son can look forward to going to a fine college. However, whatever small fortune they took with them when they left Iran is dwindling.

And Nadi, his wife, has power and grace, but she is subsumed under his benevolent dictatorship. Theirs is a loving relationship but it is not an equal partnership. In his patriarchal world, the colonel is sometimes seen to resort to physical violence (infrequent violence accompanied with apologies afterwards remains violence). We see early in the film in flashbacks to Iran that the colonel has toppled large luscious pine trees in order to survey the ocean view “to infinity”. As he orders this, we see his wife on the beach running with the children. The seeds of destruction are already sown. (At first I thought her running was in distress for what he had done with the trees but reviewing the scene, she is instead colluding with his actionwomen are not innocent in patriarchy either. The patriarchy, to expand the metaphor, is the energy behind destruction of, e.g., rain forestsbrute force to overcome “obstacles” and whatever is “in the way” of “progress”, power, money.) Nadi is caught in a gilded cage and doesn’t question his authority which provides a comfortable life for her and her son. (In his succeeding to marry his daughter off to a wealthy Irani family, there became another gilded cage in the making.) Nadi pushes and pressures her colonel, playing into the patriarchy.

The deputy sheriff Burdon who attempts to “rescue” Kathy, another patriarchal gesture of “I know better even when I do things illicitly”, seems to be the most unconscious complex driven figure of them all. Unhappy in his marriage, he “befriends” Kathy after he serves her the eviction notice. He drinks wine in her presence and she, of course, doesn’t resist the temptation. These are two people driven by their own dark psychological complexities and neediness and they feed each other with their dysfunction. Burdon, like Colonel Behrani, uses brute force against his wife when she confronts him about his affair with Kathy.

Patriarchal power is in charge; and what the archetypal feminine symbolizes, compassion and connection, is demeaned. Both women and men need this feminine aspect to soften patriarchy’s harshness.

Esmail, the son of the Behranis, would seem to be the hope for the integration of the masculine and femininewho might carry the loving compassion and connection that tempers patriarchy’s rigidity and relentless need for control.

Instead, it becomes Kathy’s choice. Unable to psychically leave her father’s house, she perhaps is finally awakening to the world she must create for herself, post eviction and in the aftermath of tragedy, and with no illusions about either being sacrificed/victimized to the government’s blind-to-human-plight bureaucratic patriarchy or “rescued” by the blundering power of the father authority figure of deputy sheriff Burdon. Would that she could have learned sooner that leaving her father’s house was what she had to accomplish all along. There may have been less suffering. House of Sand and Fog drives home (pardon the pun) how inter-connected we are in our psychic woundedness. The more we heal ourselves, the more we heal the world.

[1] Blood in this film might be considered to be a symbol of the feminineblood is messy, blood is the mysterious menses, the sacred mysteries of women; and blood might also be a symbol of sacrifice.
But blood is assiduously avoided in the Behrani familythe feminine is feared.
Early on, we see the colonel admonishing his son as he arrives home from athletic practice with a wounded leg“do not get blood on the floor”we then see the bloody leg and immediately the scene shifts to the moon, the feminine menses symbol. One may ponder if the colonel’s concern with bloody messes has a historydid blood shedding occur at his hand under the patriarchal power of the Shah? Later, Nadi and Esmail wrap Kathy’s bloody foot in a plastic bag before she crosses the threshold into their/her house and they tend to her injury.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Catholic Church and the Wounded Feminine

I am driving home from  my quarry swim, chased out  by a summer thunderstorm, and so I get to hear some bits of radio conversation. It is Terry Gross on Fresh Air interviewing Christopher Beha who has just written a novel," What Happened to Sophie Wilder." The  snipit that I catch on my short drive  is about this author's experience growing up Catholic.  I drift into my own experiences of that and think that even though I am no longer embedded in the structure of the Church any  longer, there is much of my Catholicism that remains within me.

However, I am so disenchanted with the institution of the Church that I hardly ever participate in its liturgies that I have loved for so long. I used to say, "well, sure, my Church is my dysfunctional family, isn't every family dysfunctional to some degree?" And so I stayed, singing away as cantor  by  the altar every Sunday.

But then my Church family became abusive. This abuse may be even far more pervasive than the horrible sexual abuse of children by specific clergy, because this  was an insidious and institutionalized abuse of power  against the faithful. This had  become  patriarchal control of everyone's conscience  (congregations told how to vote "pro-life" at every election) to the subjugation of women at every level.

While  listening to the Fresh Air interview, another image came to me. It was of my  daughter as a teen, walking into  our little parish church one evening after it had been newly redecorated in warm womb colors of deep dark pinks and with soothing green carpets. Gregorian chant was playing, candles glowed in dusky darkness. She knelt down and sighed "ah,it is like being home".

Those feminine colors of earth and body, and the calming  sounds of  the chanting felt comforting to her.How unfortunate that the patriarchal institutions such as the Catholic Church miss their opportunity to embrace the young  when  they  disregard their need to embrace the feminine principle. That welcoming sanctuary  that had become  a symbol of the feminine was not enough to rebalance the hierarchical urge to put down  the feminine everywhere else.

My  daughter, no longer a teenager, is  getting married, but now she has no desire  to set foot in the Church where she received First Communion or was confirmed. She has not betrayed her faith: the patriarchal institution that supposedly upholds the faith (of love and inclusiveness without hierarchy) has betrayed her.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Patriarchal culture as Bully

Writing about the Rise of the Wounded Feminine is a humbling task. No thought, no feeling comes without history and context. So many women--and men-- have contributed over thousands of years to keep the feminine principle alive, nourishing it back into the collective consciousness, and conscience.

It is painful to witness our cultural, collective amnesia how the patriarchy deflects us from our victories of this consciousness. It is more painful to witness the amnesia of the political women who  collude and become daughters of the patriarchy, while standing on the shoulders of the women who brought them their freedom. Michele Bachman  and Sarah Palin and others would never have been able to vote let alone run for office  had it  not been for the suffragettes in the early part of the 20th century.  These were  the heroines who risked their lives to win the vote for women. They were persecuted, prosecuted, jailed, brutalized. When they went on hunger strikes in jail they were violently force fed--tubes jammed down their throats.

Shame on any of us for forgetting how much they suffered for the sake of justice and the right to vote.

Now the patriarchy is pushing back again by legislating voter ID laws--a political and powers-that-be move to thwart the voting rights of the disenfranchised -- the minorities, the poor, the elderly. Their ploy this time affects both women and men (as did  the laws in the south that prevented African Americans from voting), and it is at its root about domination and control.

This is patriarchy-tainted  politics-- any means to an end, and neither the means nor the end is just. In fact, this is bullying. It is dominance of power stifling the voices of those subordinated  and disenfranchised.

We are shocked and appalled---and rightly so-- that  children on a school bus taunt and bully  an older woman bus monitor (Karen Klein in Greece,NY, June, 2012). Yet, for as terrible as that event was, why are we surprised at children being bullies when bullying is institutionalized in the culture, all the way from the family level, to the societal, and political level?

It is bullying of the least powerful when the powers-that-be make it exceedingly difficult and sometimes impossible to  carry out the right to vote.

Bullying is about intimidation, dominance, violence or the threat of violence. Those school kids on the bus were acting out what is in the patriarchal air we breathe. They at least are still children and we can hope they can mature and "breathe better air." But what of the adults that can't breathe any other but the pollution of patriarchy?

The powers-that -be "euphemize" bullying (and euthanize the vote!) with words about protecting us from fraud; this is all about voting rights, they say! Perhaps these folks have breathed the patriarchal pollution so long they have begun to believe their lies, truth be told..

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Fathers, sons and the feminine principle

As I swim in my favorite oasis of summer, a quarry  replete wit filter system and a beach, I overhear a child say "ouch, I skinned myself." Father retorts, "Oh, you're tough!" I let the comment go figuring that perhaps the  Dad has assessed the situation accurately as "nothing to fret about." Awhile later, however, I hear the son say again something about how he is hurting to which the father replies in a deep voice, "You're tough."

Now I begin to wonder if this is not a case where the father needed his inner feminine to come forward so that he could lead with his warmth ( as a male psychologist-colleague would say to his male clients) and give his child an empathetic ear. Perhaps all this little boy needed was for his Dad to bend down and check  his  knee, give it a pat and a kiss. Instead, father ignored his child's pleas, and gave him no eye contact or the briefest of concerns.

Granted that this father may love his son dearly and may even think that his actions with him will harden  him for the game of life. The father , I would guess, wants to make his son in his image--and his image of himself is more than likely that of a "man's man"--tough, invulnerable.Perhaps this is a man that bristles at showing any feeling other than anger. Vulnerability, then, would be  a sign of weakness.

There is a Native American proverb that says "Gentleness is the greatest strength." This father would be even stronger, braver if he could show his son that it is okay to feel vulnerable sometimes and that TLC (tender, loving care) is not just  a "girl thing."

On another day at the Quarry, I overheard another father remark to his son, "don't act like a girl."The message to be tough may  be slightly less derogatory, but both messages convey the idea that to be vulnerable is to be feminine and that to be feminine is inferior.

What kind of world  would it be if fathers could teach their sons gentleness and acceptance  of the feminine principle within? Comments of "you're tough" and "don't act like a girl" are signs  that  the feminine is wounded within these men. What if the wounded feminine were allowed to rise in all its strength and power and be wounded no longer? The feminine principle that contains empathy and care united within the masculine would make  a meek and mighty man: indeed, gentleness is the greatest strength. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Women of Heart Who Need To Be Heard Bring Quiet Wisdom In Loud Times

The Nuns on the Bus are truly a cadre of women of heart who need to be heard. In these loud times when Rush Limbaugh aligns himself with the papacy  (or is it the other way around?) , the Network* of Catholic nuns has responded vigorously, not by allowing themselves to be victimized by a dying cabal of cardinals whose priorities are about making contraceptives contraband but by going from  state  to state alerting the nation about how Rep Paul Ryan's budget is an affront to social justice and the common good.

The nuns are the  women who  work in the  trenches of reality. They see the working poor who struggle to feed families and who lack health care. They encounter the forgotten, frayed fringes of socety. In other words, they live the Beatitudes.

Meanwhile the pillars of patriarchy make pronouncements from  moneyed mansions.But without integrating the feminine principle of wisdom of the heart, these pillars can  only fall flat ... at the feet of these women of heart. (There are feminine principled men of heart as well. That is a topic for another day.)

*The Network is a social justice lobby whose executive director is Sr  Simone Campbell

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Affordable Health Care Act and the Wounded Feminine

Hooray for the Feminine Principle! Hooray for the Affordable Health Care Act! When the Supreme Court upheld  this act, it gave a helping hand to the wounded feminine rising. For all its imperfections, this act will begin the dialogue for affordable health care for all Americans.

Whenever we boldly enact any legislation that compassionately serves the common good, we can, I believe, safely say the masculine rational logos has become balanced with the feminine principle of care and collaboration.

Most all developed nations have been here, done this with health care, but now the US is also  coming to terms with the idea that maybe, just maybe, health  care is a necessity for all and not just a privilege for some.We honor the feminine principle when we recognize we are not rugged individuals but interconnected beings.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Rockers, porch swings, DVDs anf the wounded feminine

Today, rockers, porch swings,  DVDs and the wounded feminine!

In my rounds at a retirement community, I  entered the room of a 90 year old woman who was attempting to play  a DVD of Tony Bennett. She held three remotes in her arthritic hands as she laughed at what she termed  her" lack of a male technical  brain ". Then she laughed again noting,"I really wouldn't want a  male brain---except for things such as this!"

 Somehow her DVD dilemma precipitated her reminiscing about easier summer memories filled with porch swings and rockers. She loved the porch swing of her old house where she raised her children.  There were  quiet moments and playful times when the  children used blankets to cover  the swings and imagine whatever adventure beckoned.

I remember rockers too.My grandmother would rock my  baby cousins and croon  a deep and rhythmic "Aaaah,Aaaah,Aaaah,Ah". Surely this was a  primal Polish rendition  of  the heartbeat.  I witnessed  this and was delighted, even as a little 5 year old , of what I saw and felt.

But then my uncle, who by that time, owned the family home of my grandparents, decided to modernize.In addition to destroying the Victorian pocket doors, he   replaced the  wooden porch  with cement and  removed the rockers.When the cement dried, hard wicker bucket chairs with spindly metal legs  with scrape-y feet appeared. ...even Harlow's monkeys would have been distressed. No more was my grandmother able to rock babies gently, quietly,  soothingly.

To me , this modernization happening in Madmen times was a sign of the negative masculine ushering in "progress" while denigrating feminine feeling so necessary to nurturing life.Yes, my uncle was a good man of his time, nevertheless, on  this, he cowed to his  masculine energy at the cost of the mothering feminine.

Now neuroscience- the logic of it all- would  favor the rockers, and my grandmother's  soothing sounds and  cuddling would be considered as what is best for brain development.What my grandmother intuited is being corroborated by science. Here it would seem, the Logos(masculine) of science confirms the  importance of the Feminine principle. Grandmom, you rock!
6/27/12 (written 6/23/12)Sometimes the media, at least the press, does not get deflected by sensational , irrelevant news.Sometimes the media can focus on what is important: the headlines of  the Philadelphia Inquirer(6/23/2012)  boldly told the stories of how Jerry Sandusky ,a  Penn State  coach, was found guilty of sexual abuse of boys in his care and how Msgr Lynn of the Catholic archdiocese was found guilty of the coverup of sexual abuse among the clergy.

I was relieved and gratified that our judicial system and its juries can work. The jurors in both cases deliberated for hours, combing through testimonies: I held my breath. Would these men be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt ? To my sensibilities, the jury system contains the feminine principle at its core.The decision is collaborative and all must agree on the verdict. This is the consensus of peers rather than having the power rest with one individual. Wise as Solomon may have been,he still was a patriarchal King. And for every Solomon there  are a hundred Herods.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

6/26/12 Ask yourself this: when you listen to the news or watch a  program or movie.... Where is the feminine principle seen? Is the wounded feminine rising or is it being buried alive?

Perhaps the time has come: this is the rise of the wounded feminine. And patriarchal power fears it.  Our collective unconscious  is enthralled with strong women such as Lisbeth Salander of the Larsson trilogy, and Katniss of The Hunger Games,  and we relish the  gentle men   that are their counterparts, Meanwhile Catholic bishops cover up sex abuse scandals of their clergy as they  simultaneously rail against the nuns for caring more about the poor than they do about contraception.

What do I mean by wounded feminine? I define this as the way of being in the world that has been buried alive  by the powers that be  that embed every aspect of our lives  .The feminine principle has been articulately addressed by Riane Eisler, Richard Rohr, Thomas Berry, David Richo  and multitudes of others.The feminine principle is the model of partnership, collaboration and compassion in lieu of domination, hierarchy and control.The feminine principle is to be lived by both men and women.

However, I believe to claim the feminine principle we must name it as it is now--the wounded feminine rising.

"Wounded", because girls, women, and the feminine principle itself have been hijacked, embattled, suffering and  even entombed--sometimes literally as well as figuratively left for dead.

"Rising" because even the feminine energy that has been left for dead by the murderous patriarch, is coming back to life.

Just as Lisbeth Salander, buried alive by her killer half brother and ruthless father, digs herself out of her own grave, so too the wounded feminine principle is rising. Unfortunately the metaphor goes beyond book and movie to the reality of such persons as Gabby Giffords, shot by a young man whose mental illness found a rallying cry in right wing venomous rhetoric.While Gabby physically survived the gunfire, and made a valiant personal comeback, her career has been derailed. Where characters in novels may have miraculous recoveries, reality is less forgiving of what guns can do.