Friday, October 18, 2019

the Chalice and the Blade

Early American colonists, by and large, voyaged here to escape the tyranny of European law, dictated by royalty which delegated power at its discretion to nobility, where it ended. Upon reaching the New World, colonists were exposed to a novel idea by the indigenous peoples that the power of leaders must come from the people. Native American culture was roughly egalitarian; resources of each nation were distributed according to need, not social class. The basic unit of government was the clan, most often headed by an older woman. Clans used the land to grow what was needed with no individual ownership of resources. Politically, the clan achieved the greatest harmony and balance when women and men treated each other as equal. It was the older women, the Council of Grandmothers, who were granted true political power within the clan, making all the important decisions and being arbiter of all disputes.

Native American culture perceived Earth, plants, and land as feminine in character. Because older women were closest to the basics of life – growing and preparing of food, childbirth and caring for children, and the domestic work of the clan, men readily acknowledged women's fundamental power. When America's Founding Fathers adopted the political structure of Native American culture, the one thing they conspicuously failed to include in America's constitutional system was the important role of women in the community. As enlightened as the founders were and even though they embodied the feminine in the Declaration of Independence, the idea of actually giving women an equal place of authority and decision-making in society was inconceivable, - clearly the consequence of European bias, not to mention 5000 years of discounting and disempowering the feminine.

If we are to continue as a successful species on the planet it may depend upon how well we can reawaken, revitalize, and reinstate the feminine in our culture and throughout the world. One of the leading figures in the early women's rights movement, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, observed poignantly, “The world has never yet seen a truly virtuous nation, because in the degradation of women, the very fountains of life are poisoned at the source.” Even our primate cousins, the bonobo chimps, remind us of the natural order of things. Bonobo females bond with each other and effectively curtail all communal bullying by males. It is not that the females dominate the males, but they are able to counterbalance male power with their collective solidarity. Again, it is the feminine which brings balance and peace to society. As our testosterone-driven culture of aggression and domination may finally be running its course, it is a rebalancing by the feminine that may restore America to its original grace.

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