Spring has officially arrived at our house, heralded by the arrival of yellow daffodils poking up under the walnut tree and six fuzzy, baby chicks peeping away in our bathtub-become-brooder. I am surrounded by Life, by the clamor of two children, eleven chickens, two rats, a Golden Retriever and a newly inherited, deaf, mostly toothless terrier named Henry, and I’m loving it. Spring is the renewal of life, and that little miracle brings me great joy and hope.
In the midst of this riot of rebirth, I’ve been listening to news of destruction: earthquakes and tsunamis, wars and reports of plastic leaching carcinogens into our food. It all makes me exceedingly sad and very angry. My heart breaks for the devastated people in Afghanistan, Japan, Sudan and elsewhere. I am enraged by the thought of my children developing cancer from the lunches I am packing for them, the air they are breathing, the radiation leaking into the atmosphere; cancer created by short-sighted and often willful profiteering.
So I sit in this dynamic of grief and joy, of the beauty of the the world and the simultaneous destruction we are wrecking upon it – and our own bodies–with our short-sighted technologies. The fall out from our technological “advances” speaks to the devaluation and disparagement of what are traditionally considered feminine values; nurturance, cooperation, mutuality and relationship. These values have largely been trivialized as nice, but not realistic, or of little value: witness the treatment and financial remuneration of teachers, childcare providers, the arts, the Department of Peace. Oh, right: There is no Department of Peace.
We live in a country that worships a male god and a Masculine value system, by which I am referring not to men, per se, but to qualities of masculine energy that are independent of gender. Our global culture is predicated on the masculine attributes of dominance, control and power to the degree that we have a $708 billion dollar defense budget, our foods are genetically altered and our homes are full of toxic substances. We have been indoctrinated to believe that this is progress, and progress is good, which of course is not exactly true.
Nothing is simply good or bad. To judge the value of something you must examine it’s upside and it’s downside, the whole of it. It is important to know, for instance, that all our convenient plastic is toxic. It’s important to make the link between driving your car and the war in Iraq, and to occasionally think about the fact that one million American children go to bed hungry every night while we spend a billion dollars a day on two wars. It serves to make the connection that entire rain forests are being cut down to make way for more McDonald’s hamburgers, and that when those rain forests are gone, the Earth’s ecosystem will be irrevocably altered.
We live in a world wide web far more intricate and powerful than the one built by human technologies: it is a web of Life, a web of universality and oneness. In it’s strands is woven the First Law of Metaphysics: everything is one. Everything has an impact. Everything affects everything else. When the butterfly flaps its wings, the wind it generates sweeps across the entire planet and the web of life reverberates.
Masculine and Feminine are eternal partners in the dance of life, intricately bound together. It is essential to hold the tension of these opposing forces, to respect and have reverence for them both. It takes two to do this tango, each element bringing its vital energy of power and beauty. It is only when we separate these partners, when we value one over the other, that the dance – and our world – falls apart.
Case in point: As I write, a nuclear reactor in Japan is melting down. Everyone knows that this sort of thing can happen. We know it when we build the reactors – on fault lines. But the dangers are argued and minimized by those who stand to profit from them. Building reactors here was a calculated risk–not well calculated, I would argue, but a risk deemed acceptable. It begs the question: acceptable to whom and why?
Individuals and corporations and nations make these sorts of decisions every single day. What are our priorities? What do we value? Clean, safe energy or less costly, hazardous energy? An hermetically sealed sandwich, or a healthy child? These are questions of values. They are questions of short term gains for the few, versus long-term well-being for all.
The Iroquois Confederacy, upon whose wisdom we initially constructed our Constitution, understood the wisdom of holding the tension of the opposing dynamics of masculine and feminine attributes, of sustainability and decisive action. In these tribes, the men sat in Council but the women held the power of choosing – and removing – the Chiefs of the Council. Feminine and Masculine wisdom were regarded as equal, and in light of this mutuality, no action of any kind was taken without considering it’s relationship to the next seven generations.
In all of your deliberations…in your efforts at law making, in all your official acts, self interest shall be cast into oblivion…Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground – the unborn of the future Nation.
Daffodils and ziplock bags, baby chicks and nuclear reactors all balance together on this delicate, precarious web that we weave with each decision we make. The beauty and hope of another Spring is not guaranteed; it is entirely dependent upon our individual and collective decision to balance self-interest with conscious connection to the web of Life.
(To see a beautiful presentation of this theme, I invite you to watch“I Choose Love 2” on Youtube.)