The Challenge is Now


In every advanced mammalian species that survives and thrives, the adult female grows fierce when the cubs are threatened. And we….? ~Marianne Williamson

We women are protectors of the children and of the earth. Look at the love in this woman for her child.  You can feel it.

In the Iroquois tradition, it was women who held the key responsibility of deciding whether or not to go to war, for they considered, fully, the effects of war on the children, on the generations ahead, and on the earth itself. We love our children. But we, today’s women, have been deeply conditioned out of trusting our own instincts, our feelings, and our fierceness.

Earlier this year, there was a story in the NY Times about women in India who could not feed their children. I remember reading it, and looking at the accompanying photos of these beautiful women with their starving children, and realizing just how deeply we have been conditioned to believe we have no power. What stopped these women from doing ANYTHING they could to feed their starving children? When I wondered this, I turned the question back on myself. What stopped me from doing anything to feed my starving children and grandchildren? It’s not that they don’t have enough food. They do. For now. But, and this is the important message that is now coming out loud and clear, we women know deep inside that there is something horribly wrong with the way things are in the world. As Marianne Williamson expressed, our cubs are threatened. We are all threatened. We feel it in our bodies, for we feel the wounding of the earth and all children in our bodies.

As I read this article, I felt rage that these women had no hope to feed their children, and complete wonder at how our conditioning is so strong as to kill the instinct in us to do whatever it takes to get food in the mouths of our babies.

A beautiful woman, Diana Stone, has written a book that will be released in the spring of next year. She came to speak to our Institute of Sacred Activism workshop in September. She told us that the Iroquois have said that women must stand and speak. It is time for women to stand and speak.

The time is now. I have heard this too many times to be able to hold back any longer.

The time is now. For women to speak. For women to stand and speak, to voice what they are feeling.

The time is now for me to speak, as a woman, as a mother, as a grandmother.

We are facing this challenge each and every day. What greater challenge could there be than the end of the world in the way we have known it to be. I stepped my toe into the waters with my post on Living Gratefully. But that was not enough.

Enough is enough. I spent the afternoon, yesterday, with two of my three grandchildren. When I look at them, I wonder what kind of world they will live in. I wonder how long they will get to live. I wonder how much suffering they will endure, simply because we, people who have the ability to do something about the state of affairs we find ourselves in, have done nothing to really stop the anguish of the earth, to stop our own greed, to stop our separate ways.

Yesterday, I received this long quote from a dear friend. It is an excerpt from a book she is reading, Wisdom’s Daughters (2002), which contains the words of Women Elders of Native America. The woman whose wisdom follows is Vickie Downey of the Tewa Tesugue Pueblo.

It is the time of the feminine. With a woman that is what we feel. When I look around at the different women, I see sadness and a heaviness within themselves. What they are experiencing is what the earth is experiencing — her sadness and heaviness because of the way her children are living today. Women, they have that; the feeling is there in their hearts more so than the male people, cause the male is always doing things. The male also has to realize that he has a female part to him and he has to start feeling that same feeling.

Women have to be recognized. The words of women have to be recognized. The women will come out. It might be prophesied or doesn’t have to be prophesied, but the feeling is so strong that women will come out and voice their feelings. Whether people want to hear it or not, it is going to come because it is meant to be. It is that time.

Most women can’t comprehend what it is. They feel it. It is like a depression so they go to psychiatrists, therapists, trying to figure it out. Or it turns into physical ailments. Feelings into physical ailments. So they don’t know. They know something is going on but they cannot pinpoint exactly what it is.

As people, as native people, we are trying to do our best to tell the world this is what is happening to you. This is what is happening to us. This is what is happening to the earth. No matter how many words we give them, how many books we give them, how much information we give them, it won’t help them until they finally decide “well, I am going to accept this. I am sick. I am a sick society. I am a sick world. I am a sick person.”

When we do that we can heal. Then we turn around and we help each other. Then there will not be homelessness. Then we won’t have hunger. We won’t have wars….

So, the message is coming through loud and clear. This is the challenge, and it is here, now.

The Dalai Lama recently surprised listeners when he said, “The world will be saved by western women.” We women in the west, have the more power, resources, and connection to each other than women have had anywhere in the world for many, many centuries.

All over the world, now, women have the ability to voice what is happening, to stand and speak, whether it be to each other, to their neighbors, to their government, or to each other through. We can speak through many means, which blogging is but one.

Two great quotes have been swirling in my head for some time, now.

You must learn not to be careful. Diane Arbus

You were once wild here. Don’t let them tame you! Isadora Duncan

These words take me back inside, where my feelings and instincts as a woman reside. My fierce love was tamed, made dormant and silent. But we were once wild here, and we are still wild within.

What will it take to stand and speak, to grow fierce and vocal?

Image by Yogendra174, Flickr

This post is part of The Best of 2009 Blog Challenge (by blogger Gwen Bell):
Day 9 Challenge. Something that really made you grow this year. That made you go to your edge and then some. What made it the best challenge of the year for you?

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4 Replies to “The Challenge is Now”

  1. Thank you for this impassionated wake-up call. I love the quote about learning not to be careful – that is so hard, as a woman, when every societal influence is telling us to be quiet and cautious and obedient. At least it still feels to me that that is the message I get.
    A great reminder. Thank you.

  2. Oh wow – I feel so empowered, so called, so inspired by this post Julie. Thanks so much. The work, as I see it, begins in each of us. Cleaning our own inner houses of the victim and martyr archetypes and the accompanying behavior. Allowing ourselves to be with our genuine emotions, the full range and releasing shame. What is this contract we have made which has us handing over our power to the domination paradigm? Time to rip it up and create something new. BTW – good work coming from Great Integral Awakening around this as well with the likes of Diane Musho Hamilton. My toes are tingling – earth energy coming in – thanks!

  3. Wow. Standing and speaking. Powerful.

    My challenge blog is sitting in the “not quite done” pile but I am thinking of a part of it… the challenge of raising my son (who happens to be on the autistic spectrum) in a space that isn’t always welcoming of people who happen to be unique. Last year on World Autism Day I called the School Psychologist who repeatedly failed him and shirked on his duties – his ethical duties as outlined in the Association of School Psychologist Code of Ethics. I called him to have a chat. And as our heated conversation wound down, I said, “I called you today because I want you to remember this conversation, and to remember my son and to remember that I know what the code of Ethics of School Psychologists says SO THAT the next time a child comes into contact with you who has a spirit and behavior similar to my son, you will remember this conversation. You will remember I am out here and other people like me are out here who are aware and who are not afraid to give voice to our witness.” I saw this man recently in a classroom setting. He saw me and left the room, frightened, tail between his legs. I found it sadly amusing. And he obviously remembered.

    I haven’t written yet today because I am about to go observe Samuel’s Gen Ed classroom to see how he is faring there so that I can attend his IEP tomorrow with more than secondhand knowledge.

    When I advocate for Sam, I feel I am advocating for all kids on the spectrum, especially for those whose parents have been shamed or hushed into silence due to fear. I am Mama Warrior, Hear Me Speak.

  4. Lindsey,
    That is definitely the message we are given- both overtly, and covertly. Diane’s quote about learning not to be careful is so powerful, in that it gives us permission to do it a different way. As I say when I teach, we have really just internalized the oppressor. All women have the right, and now the responsibility, to speak up with passion and truth.
    Thank you for commenting here and sharing your wisdom.

    I love what you wrote about releasing the victim and martyr archetypes, being with all that we feel, and releasing the shame. After all, shame is never ours…it is always passed down from someone who got it from someone before. It isn’t a natural human expression.
    And, what a great inquiry about the contract we have each made in order to survive. I think the real understanding is in seeing that we no longer need this form of unconscious contract. What if we were to make a new contract to be in integrity and alignment with all of life?
    Thank you for being so generous with your love and support.

    Wow. Mama Warrior. That is you, honey! Thank you for sharing a bit of Sam with us. What a beautiful soul he must be. I applaud you for advocating for all kids on the spectrum. You are a warrior for those who cannot champion themselves. May more women find the courage and grace to find their own warrior spirit.
    Thank you for reading and sharing your wisdom.

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