|Posted by Karen M. Wyatt on April 16, 2012 at 7:00 AM|
In a speech at the Vancouver Peace Summit in September 2009, the Dalai Lama made a prediction: “The world will be saved by Western woman.” While that comment touched off an avalanche of commentary on Twitter and the blogosphere, the Dalai Lama’s words must ultimately be seen as a tribute to the tremendous progress toward freedom and equality that has been made by and for women in the Western world.
It is quite interesting then that women in the US are now in the 21st century facing a backlash against their reproductive and sexual freedom from the most conservative members of this society who apparently cannot accept the idea of women making progress, let alone fighting to save the world. Undoubtedly, fulfilling the Dalai Lama’s prediction is going to be a challenge when a large segment of this society refuses to acknowledge the equal rights of women or to accept women as potential leaders.
But in a related discussion, Madeline Albright, who is one of the most respected women leaders in our contemporary society, was asked during a TED talk if she believes that women in leadership will change the world. Her somewhat surprising response was, “If you think that just women being in power will change the world, you’re forgetting what high school was like.”
With that insightful remark Albright points out that women attaining status and power will do nothing to change the world if women do not continue to evolve and grow in consciousness. In order to be effective leaders women must integrate within themselves the best masculine qualities, represented by the label “Power,” while remaining true to their feminine nature, which is “Love.” As Martin Luther King pointed out, true leaders must possess both qualities, for “Power without love is reckless and abusive. Love without power is sentimental and anemic.”
So how can contemporary women evolve into integral leaders who can make a true difference in the world? We must repair our wounded relationship with power and we must enhance our ability to utilize love as a force for good in the world. To accomplish these two tasks we must examine, understand, embrace and transcend our own Shadow wounds and reclaim the parts of ourselves that we have disowned in the past. Here are some specific tasks we must complete in this process:
1. Stop being jealous of other women. There is a tendency for the disempowered to be threatened by the accomplishments of others and to seek to undermine their power as well. Unfortunately we women in our search for progress have caused one another more harm than any men or institutions in our society. We have failed to support one another in our efforts to achieve success, we have sabotaged one another’s work, we have betrayed and backstabbed each other, all in an attempt to protect our own weakened ego. When we are truly powerful we will not see the success of others as a threat, but we will celebrate with them because an accomplishment for one of us is progress for all of us.
2. Stop trying to please men. Another symptom of disempowerment is the willingness to do whatever it takes to be in good favor with the one who holds power. This means that we have often disregarded our own wisdom and needs in a pitiful attempt to fulfill men’s desires and demands. But men don’t need us to cater to them. They need us to be strong and to teach them how to balance their power with love, which will certainly be displeasing to some of them. We must be courageous enough to stand as leaders and do what we know is right, even at the risk of making some men unhappy.
3. Honor our intuition. One hallmark of feminine wisdom is the capacity for “inner-knowing” or intuition, yet we often disregard our own internal wisdom for fear that it will not be respected in this rational society. But this gift of intuition is precisely the knowledge that is needed in the world as we attempt to solve global, overlapping crises with delicate, interconnected solutions. We must utilize and enhance our intuitive abilities as we step up to become leaders in this world.
4. Care for ourselves while caring for others. To become fully empowered leaders we must be able to recognize our own needs and provide for them even while we are looking after the rest of the world. Self-neglect will not serve us well as we work toward growth and progress. We must find a healthy, balanced way to care for ourselves that is neither selfish nor selfless.
5. Work toward equal rights AND responsibilities. As we fight to establish for ourselves and others the rights to freedom, health and happiness, we must embrace with similar passion the need for responsibility. We must accept the consequences for our behavior without complaint or blame and hold ourselves and others accountable for outcomes.
While this task of growing in consciousness to become integral leaders of change in the world is challenging, it is totally within our sights as women right now and totally doable. We simply must turn our energy away from unproductive and senseless projects and direct it toward the deeper work of spiritual growth. When we do emerge as balanced women with power and love available to us we will be unstoppable.
Regardless of the political and governance decisions of the men who currently hold power, our growth in consciousness can never be taken away from us. We will not go backwards even if our personal freedoms are temporarily curtailed. The whole world is waiting for us and drawing us toward our own spiritual evolution. We will not disappoint or fail because this is why we came and what we have always been meant to do. Let us begin for there is no time to waste.