This article was inspired by the documentary film “Ancient Future — Learnings from Ladakh”, based on the eponymous book written by Helena Norberg-Hodge 25 years ago. I highly recommend that you watch this documentary. It contains some shocking revelations.
Around the world, the Western-capitalist-patriarchal empire displaces, exterminates and enslaves local indigenous cultures. Helena Norberg-Hodge points out that this is possible because there is a weak link in the local cultures that Western marketers take advantage of. The weak link is teenage boys. Western culture is designed for them: fast cars, beautiful objectified women, easy money, power, fame… Western culture is a patriarchal culture designed by uninitiated teenage boys for uninitiated teenage boys. Modern culture relies on teenage boys to undermine and take over the local cultures.
Local boys are taken away from their village homes and sent to schools in the city “to learn skills with which they can get a real job and earn money”. The money they earn, of course, is used to buy what modern culture manufactures: Rayban sunglasses, Camel cigarettes, fast cars and an apartment of their own, leaving behind the knowledge of their own culture. The women and girls stay back in the village doing alone the work which the entire community used to do together. Once strong and proud, the women are left out of community life, decision-making, and their natural educational roles. Initiatory processes are forgotten as well as knowledge of how to grow food on the land. Communities are separated. Competition sneaks in. Hatred and scarcity become the basis on which thoughts, decision and actions are taken.
If the leverage point used by modern culture to overpower traditional cultures is teenage boys, the leverage point for transforming modern culture into next culture is teenage women. The women, especially the young women, are the key to the emergence of next culture.
Women are the key because women have a better chance to escape the patriarchal empire. In modern culture women are the slaves of the adolescent-mentality men. Slaves have a better chance of escaping the patriarchy than the masters because slaves know that something else is possible. The master does not see any reason why he should trade his life for something else. He has no reason to question the system that makes him unquestionably the king. However, when slaves recognize that something completely different is possible, a (r)evolution necessarily follows.
Our (r)evolution started 50 years ago with the women’s liberation movement. I am thinking, however, that we — women — have failed to liberate ourselves.
We failed, until now, to create a culture where both men and women are free to creatively collaborate for the benefit of all, including Planet Earth. This path of liberation is as sharp and perilous as a razor’s edge. Some women have tried to liberate themselves by fighting against a 6000 year-old patriarchal system. They hopelessly tried to prosecute abuses from men, or marched down the street waving placards and singing slogans, only to be brutally knocked to the ground, pepper sprayed in the eyes, and dragged away to prison cells, or worse. These women walked directly into the swords held out to defend the patriarchal system and they were deeply wounded. Other women have tried to beat the men at their own game — thinking that if the men respected them they could finally respect themselves. Women fought to climb to the top of male dominated hierarchal systems in politics, corporations, finance, health, education, religion, media, forest burning. The women who succeeded paid the highest personal price, for them and for us. Neither fighting the system nor beating the system has succeeded in transforming the system into something else. Both strategies failed.
I think that as women we have failed because we have not reclaimed our own dignity and respect for ourselves. We hold more respect for the men and their social system than we do for our own feelings, voice, authority, and truth. We have not taken back the power of listening to and respecting ourselves. Even if the door is opened by other women — or these days even by certain men — we turn away from them in fear.
I sit here now with this burning question — how can we women, for the sake of our children’s children, for the sake of Gaia and life on Earth… how can we regain our own dignity? What is the path to such an inner (r)evolution?
I experience that we women tend to swing between one extreme or another. Sometimes we hold the certainty: I am not good enough, never, for nothing. I don’t deserve anything more than this wretchedness. Then at other times we assert: I am the best. These idiot men do not deserve me. I will show them what I am capable of… or maybe I will just leave them behind, torturing them forever. We give ourselves this choice between I am less than the men, or I am far superior. The fallacy is that thinking in polarities is rooted in the patriarchal concepts of separation and competition. It is as actively engaged between men and women as it is between women.
It came to me to make an announcement: Women! It is time for us to start over. We start over now in a different context. Our new beginning originates in consciousness, radical-responsibility, and interdependence. Regaining our dignity in a context of interdependence is not a selfish act. Regaining our dignity is taking a stand for ourselves in relationship with other women, men and Nature.
The job on our bench is to build the bridge from modern culture to next culture. The bridge is built by walking it. Walking that bridge is the service that we deliverer to save humanity from its own annihilation. Men cannot do this job for humanity because men are trapped in the patriarchy and cannot walk away from it. The shift occurs now with each dignified woman who walks across the bridge into a culture of creative collaboration between the feminine and the masculine.
I write this manifesto as a wake-up call to any woman who thinks she is doing inner work for herself, personally, to feel better or to have a more perfect life. It isn’t like that at all. That time is over. You are doing inner work so your children and your grandchildren can hope to have a life, so your daughters can experience what it is to be a dignified woman in the arms of a newly awaken man, so your son can have a chance of extracting himself from a system that is eating his soul. Please help me. Please help us all. Dignify yourself as way of serving something greater than yourself.
The path of dignity is simple and not easy, straightforward and never-ending. Steps along the path are taken through you practicing basic skills such as these:
- Hold your center. Stay grounded. Maintain a bubble of personal space.
Each morning, practice centering yourself by making a conscious choice, making a conscious declaration, and asking yourself a dangerous question… and then answering it. Speak directly from a point that is three-fingers down from your navel. Ground yourself by connecting your center to the center of the Earth. Declare your bubble of personal space and let the energy and information flow between you and Gaia along your grounding cord. Hint: It can help to tell your friends, “The color of my grounding cord today is _______.”
- Have clarity and take responsibility for your four feelings — anger, sadness, fear and joy. Have clarity about the difference between feelings and emotions.
Reclaiming your anger is a first and huge step towards reclaiming your dignity. Reclaiming your anger means saying, “No!” to whatever you do not want, and saying, “Yes!” to whatever you do want. Anger clearly asserts, “This is not okay!” and also, “I want to try this instead.” There are no right or wrong answers about what you want or don’t want.
Practice saying, “I want…” This is not permitted in the in the patriarchal vocabulary for women. To say, “I want…” breaks some very old rules while it builds the bridge to next culture.
Fear, sadness and joy each have their own information and energy that are essential to doing your work. Start with anger first. When the Warrioress comes alive in you, she can create a safe space for you to experience and express the other feelings.
- Have clarity and take responsibility for your low dramas, your favorite position on the low drama triangle, your favorite victim patterns, and your Gremlin.
Make a list of your favorite victim behaviors. Perhaps it is complaining, beating yourself up, hating the better people, comparing yourself, depression, wanting the better people to fail, feeling betrayed (so you can take revenge).
Make a list with your friends of where you are taking responsibility and where you are not. Where are you still creating low drama in your life? Describe your low dramas to the others in excruciating detail. NOTE TO MYSELF: If I am not laughing irrepressibly and unstoppably about myself by the end of the evening, then I did not see how ridiculous my low dramas are.
- Take a stand for the qualities of your Being and your service to the Earth.
With friends, tell each other the qualities of your Beings. How are you radiating Love? How are you trustworthy and committed? What does Gaia appreciate about you? What do you take a stand for in life?
- Stop beating yourself up. This is a never ending learning process. Enough other people try to beat you up that you don’t ever have to beat yourself up. Beating yourself up slows the process of evolution down.
- Stop being nice. Making ‘niceness’ your highest priority only assures that nothing changes. If you are nice you are looking good and going nowhere. We don’t have time for this shit anymore.
- Keep your sword of clarity to hand day and night. Hesitate not to press your sword into the throat of any man around you. If he comes at you, what happens? Not your problem. It may sometimes occur that a man actually learns something. If a man learns something he will go through a liquid state. (If there is no liquid state, he has learned nothing.) When a man enters an authentic liquid state, perhaps grieving the loss of old familiar ways and falling into a bottomless unknown, it may be possible to offer him surcease of his sorrows. Your comforting breast will not put Humpty Dumpty back together again — thank God! — but it may start the uninitiated adolescent on the path of discovering that he has no idea what a woman really is. Let the adolescent break to pieces and be with him without rescuing him. He too may eventually learn dignity, although it will be a longer path than yours.
- Go the full way of healing your traumas with men and women, with your parents and ancestors, with authorities, insane crippling beliefs, and systems. A new bright future waits to be built by you. Build it without including the wounds of your past and your history.
These skills are the basis for a new culture in a new context. Practicing your skills never ends. The skills of evolution can never be mastered.
Last but not least, my dear women companions, find a group of friends — preferably female — who demand and require that you respect and dignify yourself. Practice your skills in their company. Be unwavering about the high levels of dignity and respect that you carry for yourselves, for each other, for the Earth, and for the children. If one of us stops respecting herself, it is your service to remind her of the respect and dignity that you carry for her. This is one skill that you cannot ever practice enough: appreciating yourself and others for how we take a stand for ourselves.
These are skills I am working with to regain a sense of my own dignity, my goddess-ness, my queen-ness. I am sure there are still more yet to be discovered and practiced. When you find them, I beg you please share them with me. I will do the same for you.
I still hang here with some questions of my own.
I have male friends who are bluntly unaware of the patriarchal basis of their thoughts, speech, vocabulary, physical and energetic actions. They don’t know their purpose. How can I trigger self-awareness of their own behavior without breaking the small bridge that links us? Should I confront them, put it in their face and wait until they come around? Would they ever come around? How can I be with them when they are behaving like this and are not committed to change? Should I just give up on them, relegate them to the trash bin?
I have other male friends making profits through the patriarchy, annihilating life on Earth. I have tried to convince them that something else was possible. It didn’t work. I am sure others would agree that this is an inefficient technique, plus it creates separations: me and you, us and them. Now I can finally be with them where they are and feel happy that they received a promotion, or are getting married, are going to university, or putting their children in school. Am I sustaining destructive energy? By feeling compassion for instead of hating them and cutting off contact with them am I supporting the insanity of the patriarchy?
I don’t have answers. All I have is you. Maybe you could help me think this through and together we can take appropriate actions.
A love letter to women,
Mallorca September 2018.