Yesterday I found a quote by the Dalai Lama who was speaking at a Peace Summit in Vancouver. He said ‘The world will be saved by Western Women’. It’s what friends and I joke when we discuss world issues. We quip ‘when I rule the world, I’ll do it this way…’ and proceed to solve some obvious seeming problem. Now I know world issues can’t be oversimplified but it seems to us, my friends, as we sit around someone’s living room, that a little common humanity, a little thinking like a mother would, could indeed make obvious changes for the better. Simple family values like fairness, like helping, like resolving disputes with words not force seem to be lacking in the world. Concepts that seem so obvious to a mother that they don’t even come up in our conversations nevertheless guide our conversations. Ideas like everyone is important, everyone has potential, everyone needs a little love, encouragement, a tiny little helping hand as they take on a challenge just a liiiiiiitle too big for them. Concepts like don’t be a bully, if you’re bigger and stronger reach out to help not harm.
And then I look at the world and I wonder, how did all that mothering get forgotten? How do all these grown ups, who all had mothers toss out everything they learned in the family when they come to positions of power. And then I remember one little thing. How it felt when I was a kid. Like Mom had my back. Like I just knew I was important to her. Like I didn’t have to worry about anything other than my exploration of the moment because our basic needs were met. Lunch was going on to be on the table. There was a hug whenever I needed one. There were cool cloths, or warm, whenever I was sick. There was a safe home base to return to. All I needed to do was learn, do my best, play nicely and be home when the streetlights came on.
As I recalled it I actually wanted to move back home for a few minutes. And I realized that I haven’t felt quite so safe ever since. And I wondered what if I had? What might I have accomplished if I knew there was going to be a roof over my head no matter what. How far might I have gone if my only job, till I was done with it, was to keep learning.
I am not advocating for managed care for all of us but I do realize that some of the things we mothers do just because we know its needed for our beautiful little people to reach their potential could be a whole lot better institutionalized in our societies. I’m so lucky I live in Canada and even we have far to go to catch up with the social safety nets of places like the Netherlands and Scandinavia. I delivered a workshop once for a bank in Norway. At lunch, everyone went together to the office cafeteria and ATE LUNCH TOGETHER! Provided by the company, and yes, I asked, this was an everyday occurrence. I learned more about a couple of employees there in that hour than I knew about former co-workers and bosses I’d worked with for a decade. These people cared about each other.
So yes, women have a long missing voice in the chambers of decision making. I love the male drive for accomplishment, for competition and gaming, there is no doubt that without it we wouldn’t have accomplished what we have. But we need balanced values and we don’t have them now. We’ve come to make money serve only those values. We use it as a score card and measure our worth with it. And that is simply unbalanced. Women’s voices are needed. There’s a whole other spectrum of values we hold dear. And we seem to have something that allows us to put aside winning in order to support. We have an intrinsic understanding that systems are delicately balanced and need constant attention and nurturing.
Which brings me back to the Dalai Lama’s quote, yes, I see that women bring an important perspective. But why Western Women? Why not all women? And I hear, very quietly in the back of my mind, “Because we can.” We have the institutionalized rights, hard won, through the efforts of generations of mothers before us. We have the education, the vote, the social structure, that while still not 100% fair is truly there for us to step into if we’re willing to endure a little hardship and claim our places. And we know how to do that, endure hardship that is, any mother who’s had two toddlers squabbling at her feet knows how to reach deep into her core, pull out more patience than she knew she had and love the little perpetrators despite their annoying behaviour. Any mother of a 13 year old has heard her own child hurl ‘I hate you’ at her in anger and has reached down deep into her core, again, to pull out even more love and patience while sticking to her guns. If you can do that honey, you can handle a board room, can handle question period in the house of parliament.
What if it IS up to us? What if you saw your community as filled with your children? What if this whole shebang could turn on a dime with the strength, values patience and infinite reserves of love and compassion in women? Are you ready to step into leadership now? If your fear died here, what else is possible?