He for she – redressing gender inequality

Many of you will be aware of the #heforshe# campaign instigated by none other than Hermione Granger of Harry Potter fame – aka Emma Watson. Clearly as clever outside her famous role, this formidable young lady makes a number of pertinent points about the gender inequality that is still rife in the world, ways to address it, and the need to enlist ‘a few good men’.

In fact, she might well have channeled my own thoughts, so closely does her wording follow the argument I’ve been having inside my head, and with a few brave friends, for the past 15 years. I’ll leave it in her capable hands. Click on the link below to listen to her impressive speech to the UN.

Emma Watson on gender inequality

Life is what happens while we’re making other plans

DestructionIt’s been almost a year now since I’ve found the wherewithal to share my soul musings here. My apologies to those who’ve stopped by and found nothing new and inspiring to read, and my thanks to those who have left comments and ‘likes’ regardless.

Just as there has been movement in and out of my blog during my absence, so too was there movement in and out of my life while I was fully present within it. Let me explain.

Some of my postings have mentioned my great love for my husband of the past few years, the man who’d been my childhood sweetheart and with whom I found myself again in relationship some thirty years later. Despite significant challenges and difficulties I felt our connection was infinitely durable; unbreakable; and that we’d find a way to weather through whatever tsunamis washed over our marital shores. And there were many…formed from the deeps wounds to our hearts and souls we’d amassed over the intervening years, and the collective wounds of his children. In the end, we ended up in a bloodied mess, with all of us reeling in shock. Continue reading

Forgiveness – The most elusive virtue of all?

I’m currently reading a wonderful book titled The Happy and Harmonious Family. Its author, Acharya Mahapragya, makes the meaningful point that it is within the family that individuals absorb the traits and values that shape who we eventually become. It follows that we should not take our responsibilities as parents lightly.

 

In this day and age many, if not most, parents in the Western World, concern themselves with training their children to be high achievers in a consumerist society. In plain words, we teach our kids that the more money they make (determined by their adherence to academic achievements and their ability to sell themselves in a competitive world), the more material goods they can gather to themselves, with the implication that this will make them happy. Nothing could be further from the truth.

 

Happiness is the fruit of inner peace, not of competition, materialism and the self-centredness that lies at the heart of our society. And the family is the primary unit of society. If families fail in their quest for harmony, then society fails also. That leaves us with a world in which the very earth itself is desecrated for what it can ‘supply’, and in which atrocities like rape, murder, theft and abuse abound.

 

Now what does this have to do with forgiveness? Mahapragya emphasises the value of tolerance, of which one of the deepest roots is forgiveness. We cannot live in harmony while we hold onto grudges against those we perceive have wronged us. Nor can we experience that inner peace, which is so necessary for the development of familial and societal harmony, if we are unable to forgive ourselves. The latter is something that has held a particular poignancy for me these past weeks, as I’ve come to realise that not only have I recently hurt others with my anger, but I have harmed myself equally. To forgive myself has been excruciatingly difficult. To forgive the others has been the lesser task, though by no means easy. I have worn two years worth of hostility and blame that rightly does not belong to me. The true target should have been someone else but perhaps I’ve been easy prey simply because I’m normally calm and reasonable, and honestly don’t believe in shouting matches or retaliation. I’ve believed that in an intellectual sense and have mostly succeeded, though not without a huge toll on my stress levels and therefore my health.

 

Enter my own beast unleashed. As with anyone, I have my breaking point, and break down I did. Spectacularly! My light-bulb moment arrived when I understood that I needed to take my intellectual understandings and beliefs directly into my heart and soul. It took the shock of looking at the beast in the mirror – myself – and coming to terms with the fact that an ugly creature resided within. I needed to face it down; and face it down I did. My soul took over, telling me that I’m able to soothe and calm that monster, to feed it good spiritual nutrition, and while it may ever reside within me, it is only one small aspect of myself. One of the best strategies for keeping these monsters quiet is to find our spiritual strengths, develop and nurture them till they come to the fore, almost automatically, when our monsters try to raise their ugly heads.

 

I didn’t realise this post was destined to become so esoteric but there is no better way for me to express my truth.

 

I also see that while I’ve forgiven myself and forgiven (deeply and permanently) those who’ve hurt me during these past years, these dear ones have not forgiven me. And that’s okay. For now. But it saddens me to know it will continue to harm them during their own life journeys and who knows how deep that pain may be? Where and how will it end? I know that I must let it go…and that perhaps, is my next lesson in life. The lessons never end. When they do, our journey is over.

Going placidly amid the noise and haste; And remembering what peace there may be in silence

About a month ago my eldest daughter made a surprising and insightful comment about the way I conduct myself and my life. After bringing my two grandchildren to visit my husband and I here on our property (40 blissful acres of nature’s beauty), and after having meandered about with me while I prepared lunch, strolled around on a bushwalk and generally enjoyed my space and my family, she looked at her watch for the ‘n’th time. I knew she was anxious about the time I was taking to do things as she herself was on a tight schedule and needed to be back in town by four o’clock.

 

For a moment my lovely girl looked perplexed. Then she announced, ‘Mum, you know you slow time down, don’t you? It’s as if you force the rest of us to stop and smell the roses instead of rushing about. I always think you take an incredibly long time to accomplish anything. Yet you don’t. You actually slow time down for the rest of us.’

 

I’d never quite thought of it like that, though I’ve long been aware that I do indeed meander and potter through life. I’m also aware that amid all this pottering and meandering, I can calmly achieve significant things. I’ve never been a noisy person, nor one who moves with more haste and less care. I attribute some of this to my father, who would often say (quietly and calmly), ‘The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get.’ The saying, I think, comes from the White Rabbit in Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’, and a more frenetic creature one is unlikely to find in literature or elsewhere.

 

In a world which is becoming more and more fast-paced, people like me are apt to be left behind in the rush, hearing accusations of ‘lazy’, ‘hopeless’, ‘slow-witted’, or any number of inaccurate judgements. There is no rule written in the book of life that dictates we must be frantically busy to be effective or valuable. In fact, a quiet perusal of the outcomes of all this modern-day stress will tell us otherwise. It has always seemed to me that the loud, bustling types are also those who make the most mistakes, having to backtrack and repeat tasks in order to bring them to fruition. They also cause unlimited stress for others, their forgetfulness and the chaos they trail in their wake meaning that everything takes longer because of all their fussing and blustering. And all too frequently there is relationship fall-out as tempers fray and angry words are spoken in haste. Blame seems to be the name of the game.

 

While I was born in 1960, I’m very much a child of the 70’s. All that lying awake at night with the transistor radio (remember the ‘tranny’ anyone?) crackling ‘The Desiderata’, or Cat Stevens (‘just relax and take it easy’) and similar themes, into my ear in the wee hours, must have hit its particular mark. I embody peace and harmony, and don’t for a moment believe that it leads to lesser achievements. On the contrary, I know that it leads to much greater heights when it comes to spiritual and emotional development, and that this awakening leads to awareness and concern for those around us and for the very earth itself.

 

The great spiritual traditions of the world all promote the wisdom that it is fools who talk too much, that words have power, and that untold damage can be done when we speak and act in haste. As I look around me, I am saddened by the evidence that we are increasingly living in an age of foolishness.