Era that Needs us All
Last month we witnessed a meaningful, historic event and one of the largest demonstrations in history: the Women’s March. Nearly three million people around the world took to the streets to express themselves, stand together and make a statement about their ideals, rights and values.
In support of this movement, I paid close attention to what people were saying. I was proud to see so many women (and men and children!) of all ages empowered to peacefully share their views on how women are treated. I agree with much of what was shared at the march, though I did not march myself, because I’m still finding my own way to participate.
I know I’m not alone in this. If 2.5 million took to the streets, then there were tens of millions like me at home watching, wondering what their role is and how to show up in a way that feels authentic. I believe politics are personal, so to open up the conversation here at Divine Living and begin in search of my own voice, I’m telling you about my journey and inviting you to share your opinions in the comments below, being mindful that being respectful of others is key to actually having your point-of-view heard.
As some of you may already know, I started my career in Washington DC, working in the First Lady’s office at the White House (I also worked at the Supreme Court and Harvard’s Institute of Politics). I have never been more politically passionate and aware than I was in those days, when I’d read a stack of newspapers every morning before I even arrived at work.
After I left DC, I worked for years with Marianne Williamson, who wrote Healing the Soul of America as well as other NYT bestselling books. It was an incredible new frame of reference for my interest in public service and creating impact, but eventually I was led away from politics altogether.
I can see how my evolution towards psychotherapy, personal development and entrepreneurship and away from my political life was shaped by a very either-or mentality. Historically, you could either be spiritual or you could be wealthy. Similarly, you could be in the public sector or the private sector.
While I long ago overcame the first assumption, up until now the latter has continued to influence my level of public engagement as a citizen. There’s also that old taboo that says you don’t talk about politics or religion at the dinner table. In this moment, I know it’s time for all of that to change within me.
I didn’t see this year as being about political activism, but I can’t ignore the tapping on my shoulder to reawaken my consciousness and re-discover my political voice. I’m humbled to admit that never in my wildest imagination did I think Donald Trump would be POTUS.
It’s still hard for me to wrap my head around my disappointment. Anyone who knows me knows that for years, I was a fan of Donald Trump the entrepreneur. I didn’t really watch The Apprentice but I had picked up some of his business advice and read a few of his books, so I had some entrepreneurial respect for him and I kind of got a kick out of his style.
And yet I was obviously not going to vote for him, especially as the campaign revealed some dark sides. In my heart I’m an independent, but historically I have voted along a Democratic party line and in this case, Clinton was the clear choice for me.
I was shocked by the election results. I mean, I remember being personally disappointed when the Bushes got elected, but I don’t remember feeling devastated and somewhat afraid. I found myself thinking, “Did this really happen? Who is going to do something about it?”
The situation does not seem to be improving. Each new appointment, senatorial hearing, comment and decision feels more unbelievable than the last. For example, I was appalled to watch new Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s confirmation hearing. As a school teacher’s kid from Detroit who spent 10-15 years paying off her student loans, it’s concerning to see a woman who’s never taken out a student loan in her life (nor have any of her children) be enlisted to oversee education.
Most recently, I was disappointed by the notorious tweet from Michael Flynn Jr., the new national security advisor’s son about the Women’s March. It reaffirmed that this administration does not value women in an honoring way. Meanwhile, it doesn’t seem to value the truth either—as we learned when the press secretary’s first statement to the public included an irrefutable lie about the inauguration being the most viewed in history.
All of this is so unconscionable in 2017. At this point in history, can’t human beings do better? I’m hearing the call, and finding myself in a place where I can no longer be quiet or stand on the sidelines. At the same time, I’m not yet sure exactly how I will put myself in the game.
I believe the world needs empowered women to bring feminine values and leadership to create positive change. In the process of exercising my voice, I am asking how I can do so while still being myself. Twenty years after I left DC, I’m coming back to political activism more conscious and more confident, with the same question I used to build my business—how can I do this based on feminine principles?
Political activism, like most arenas of life, has long been dominated by men, so as women we have few feminine role models to work with. We should certainly be grateful for the courageous women who have fought for the privileges and opportunities we have today, but we should also have permission to continue to explore, evolve and clear new ground on which to exercise the diversity of our voices.
If, like me, you’ve been uninspired by calls for women to “stay angry,” I want you to know it’s okay to not to be. Let’s not judge each other for the ways in which we choose to answer this call. You do not have to let the parts of politics that are personal eat you up inside.
Many of history’s greatest change-makers in fact did not use anger as their vehicle for transformation. We saw it with Gandhi, with King and with Mandela. More recently, we’ve seen it with Malala and Amal Clooney. Women, with all of our empathy, grace and wisdom, have just as much if not more potential to be powerful, inspiring and influential leaders on the world stage.
The Women’s March sent an important message to the world and invited each of us to show up this year in a more conscious way. I will be answering the call in the way that’s right for me, and I invite you all to do the same. It doesn’t matter what side you’re on or what your views are. May we all search within to find the answer that will create the most light and transformation. Let us each step more confidently into the change we wish to see.
Allow these wise perspectives to inspire your political consciousness.