Monday, July 25, 2016

Changing the Limitations for Women - The United State of Women

 On June 14, I watched The United State of Women Summit livestream, or at least much of it. I picked it up a few hours into it - the downside of living in the Pacific Time Zone. I was disappointed that I missed the morning sessions focused on violence against women.

I was thrilled a few days later when I received an email stating the full program was available to watch - all 11+ hours of it. 

At least, I could watch the parts I missed including Vice President Biden's intense and emotional speech, Mariska Hargitay's insightful, heartfelt, and emotional words, and the enthusiasm of so many people coming together to create positive change in our world.

As Vice President Biden spoke about his decades of work to eradicate violence against women, tears welled up in my eyes. I thought about all the women I know who've encountered violence in their lives. I thought about my own experiences with violence at various times in my life. I thought about how we write a narrative that dismisses facts and statistics to deny help to those in need. I thought about how society plays politics with these issues as if they're part of a game and there aren't real people who are affected by the decisions made. I allowed my tears to well up and spill over because we need more love in the world. We need to love one another more than we love ideologies and money.

I watched President Obama's remarks again. The genuine love and devotion President Obama shows his wife and his daughters never fails to touch my heart. His words were touching and insightful delivered with the touch of humor that seems to come so natural to him.

I couldn't resist watching First Lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey have their discussion about the state of women in America and how they view life in America. While the interview was interesting and even fun, I took a great deal of pleasure in how real they seemed during what I dubbed the "Mmmm. Mmmm. Mmmm." segment.

The myriad speakers discussed the progress we've made toward equality, and the path forward. Their words reminded me that sometimes I bite my tongue instead of engaging because I see so many people who either just want to argue for the sake of arguing or aren't interested in anything that doesn't fit their narrative. Our world becomes increasingly polarized because so many people are so indoctrinated in their beliefs that facts and evidence are no longer relevant.

We seem to have come to a place where we spend far too much time drawing lines in the sand and proclaiming them drawn in concrete. Guess what? Concrete cracks under enough pressure. I look into the eyes of those searching for something better and I wonder just how much longer this divisiveness can continue before it breaks it all apart, until it breaks us all apart.

Women have made such incredible strides toward equality, but we're not done. I own myself. I refuse to be anybody's property and yet I find myself falling into expected roles and hating myself for doing it. Then seeking to forgive and accept myself for the crime of being human because we treat being human as if its something to overcome or to cure in our society.

I see people all around me striving for better based on someone else's definition and losing themselves in the process just as I did for years.

Life isn't about meeting expectation and figuring out how to be acceptable, respectable, conventional. Life is about embracing who you are and proclaiming your truth to the world in all its glory as loudly and beautifully as possible. Life isn't about how someone else tells you to live. Life isn't about checking expectations met off a list like just one more task to perform. Life is about living boldly and giving the world based on who you are at your core.

We have to stand up to the bullies and the rapists and the abusers. We have to stand up to the degrading comments meant to keep us in place. We have to stand in our truth even when it costs us what we think we want. We have to stand for the strength and vulnerability, the intelligence and the compassion, the success and the failure that it takes to find our truth and our place in the world.

We have to keep drawing attention to the lives we live and the injustices we encounter. We have to see one another and work together across all the barriers placed between us to find the common ground that gives us a place to create a world that offers a foundation of equality to all.

We need to see our world as it is with the progress we've made and the road still ahead without putting on blinders.

We are so busy politicizing the very act of living that we've lost sight of the people who are affected.

When violence and hate are given more glory than peace and love, how can we expect to change the limitations for tomorrow?