Friday, May 25, 2018

The Next Wave of Feminism

I offer these thoughts, inappropriately from a man, out of the upmost respect for women, the injustices they have suffered for millennia, and the human potential that is their gift and birthright.

The rights of women and their status have seen substantial advancement over the course of the past century, since winning the right to vote.  Yet despite that progress, there is really no light at the end of the  tunnel.  Women still do not have equal rights; they still can’t pursue anything they want on an equal basis with men; they are still subject to discrimination based on gender; they don’t receive equal pay; their testimony is often discounted by men; and they are still subject to the unwanted advances of predatory men.

Why?  Because we live in a male-dominated society and the male ego continues to be mostly dismissive towards women.  There will thus be little opportunity for further advancement towards the goals of the women’s movement without changing this basic nature of our underlying society.

Feminism to-date has been primarily concerned with leveling the playing field.  I respectfully suggest that it is time now to change the playing field itself.  This calls for a new wave of feminism.

There have been three waves of feminism in the U.S. that have sought to rectify the injustices faced by women.  The first wave concentrated on getting the right to vote and other family-related rights.  The second seeks to free women from gender discrimination and enable them to be able to do and be anything they wanted to be, equally with men.  The third is more about increasing women’s respect, her relevance in society as a counter to man, having her testimony heard and believed, and is less rigid about what women “should” do.  A housewife can be a feminist.

Central to the feminist movement has been the belief that women should be able to do and be whatever they want, equally with men.  But this leaves the question begging … how does a woman decide what she wants to do?  What does she want to be?  The reader most likely will respond, “Duh!  It’s whatever she wants.”  But it’s not that simple or straightforward.  Hardly.

As I have noted in many posts, we are creatures of our ego-mind … the mind that has developed from our learned experience and our reactions to that experience.  Most everyone goes through life making day-to-day decisions, both large and small, based on the guidance of his or her ego-mind.  The ego-mind is the source of all our emotions, judgments, cravings, and attachments.  In short, the things that drive us.  The ego-mind is who we identify with.  Most readers will probably respond, “So, what’s wrong with that?”  

Unfortunately, our ego-mind causes us to be agitated, fearful, guilt-ridden, submissive or aggressive, insecure … it is in fact the cause of our suffering.  And these feelings cloud every decision we make, making it impossible to know or do what is really in our best interest.  The resulting decisions we make under the influence of the ego-mind are thus highly questionable.

The first step in this new, fourth, wave of feminism would thus be to truly free women from their past, from her ego-mind, and so allow her to make decisions that are best for her.  The good news is that the ego-mind is not our true self.  We can thus turn instead to our true self for guidance.  We do have a choice.

What is this true self?  As the mystical traditions of all three Abrahamic faiths … Judaism, Christianity, and Islam … teach (as well as Buddhism and Hinduism and even the classic Greek philosophies that speak to how one should live life), the ego-mind is not our true self.  Instead, our true self is our heart, the God/Buddha essence we were born with.  And so our true self is peace and goodness.  As much as our emotions control us, they are not who we truly are; they are just a product of the ego-mind.

And so for a woman, or a man, to truly know who they are and who they want to become, in the sense of how they want to express the person they are, they must first free themselves from the influence of the ego-mind.   There are two ways of doing this.  One is the classic spiritual teaching of the mystical traditions as well as Buddhism and Hinduism.  The other is to heal the wounded inner child.  Or better yet, the two work best in tandem.  (See my post, “Human Interaction Is Governed by Wounded Children - And How Women Can Change That Dynamic”)

“OK,” you may say, “but what does this have to do with changing the playing field?  How would this alter the injustice that women continue to suffer at the hands of men?”

First, it would be truly game changing.  Women would be freed by being in touch with their innermost feelings and, rather than being paralyzed or controlled by them, heal the wounded inner child and emerge a stronger person.

As it stands now, a woman’s analysis of who they want to be is a function of her ego-mind and her life experience, and thus more a reflection of her emotions than her true self, her heart.  Only by being free of those emotions and judgments, in touch with her unwounded heart, can she identify what she truly wants to do.

Controlled by those emotions and life experiences, women have become trapped, even as they experience increased freedom, in the same neuroses and obsessions that have driven men and made them suffer, because women have also made their choice based on the faulty analysis of the ego-mind.  They have thus exchanged the suffering of being the trapped housewife they didn’t want to be with the suffering of either not being able to achieve what they want or achieving it and finding their lives empty of real meaning, never satisfied.  By making their choice based on who they truly are, they would be free of that trap, free of their wounded inner child.  

Second, healing the wounded inner child would not just change a woman’s relationship with herself; it would change her relationship with her family and everyone she comes into contact with.  And this is what could result in women changing the playing field.

Women may still have little power in the world of men, but women carry the main burden of raising children … which gives them power to mold the future.  If women were able to pursue that task free of their wounded inner child, it would have a beneficial impact on the interaction between mother and child, giving their children a real chance of getting the nourishment they need and developing into strong adults free of hobbling insecurities.  

This would be huge.  It would break the cycle I described in my book, Raising a Happy Child, of insecure parents raising insecure children who become insecure adults who …. The next generation of men and women would then be on a new playing field, because they would not be formed by insecurity and would know who they truly were.  Human interaction would be on a different plane.

There is a reason why the Earth is referred to as “Mother Earth.”  Earth is not just the source of life, it is the sustaining force; it nourishes mankind.  This has traditionally been the female role, not the male role.  And men have suffered because they have not been raised, not been conditioned, to that role.  Unfortunately, over the past century, women have also not been raised to that role, except in a perfunctory and limiting way.  

Reassuming the role of Mother Earth for themselves and their families would not mean retreating back to the role of housewife.  It would mean instead that regardless what path a woman chooses to take, she will in her relationships always provide the nourishment that is a woman’s gift.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Have We Gone Mad? - The Full Scope of the Mass Shooting Epidemic

In The New York Times, May 19, there was a graphic showing how many mass shootings there have been each month since January 2013.  They defined mass shooting as a single event in which 4 or more people are injured or killed.

I was shocked.  The lowest number of mass shootings in a month was 11; the highest 49.  That’s a total of 1713 mass shootings in 65 months, for an average of 27 per month.  And remember, these are not the number of people injured or killed, but the number of events.

I had no idea there were so many.  I read The New York Times regularly and look at the news online most days.  Yet I was only aware of a small fraction of these mass shootings.  It would appear that unless a mass shooting reaches a threshold of a certain number of people injured or killed the event doesn’t make it into the national media and is just reported locally.

How can we expect a massive public movement to demand more effective gun control measures and the legislatures to respond when the scope of the problem is so underreported?  The ones reported in the national media have been terrible, and there have been enough of them.  But it still felt like these were unusual occurrences.  Not so!

But now that we have that knowledge, how can any parent, how can any gun owner, not say, “This cannot continue.  Congress must pass broadened gun control measures to keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have access to guns.”?  All loopholes should be eliminated.  All purchases must be approved.  And the law should be changed so that in cases like the most recent shooting in Texas, where the student got the guns from his father’s collection, the owner of the gun should be held criminally liable as an accessory to the murders unless the gun was locked in a gun safe

The facts revealed in the Times should be the lead story in every newspaper in the country and on every cable news program.  This is more immediately vital to our security and well-being than anything else going on in the world.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Menace of Airbnb and How To Control It

As I’ve traveled this past year, spending time in a variety of places, I’ve discovered that Airbnb is having a very harmful impact on both the availability and affordability of housing stock in both cities and small towns.  

Yearly rents are going up because there are fewer apartments or houses available to rent, as owners discover there is more money to be had in short-term Airbnb rentals.  And housing stock available for sale has diminished, again because owners can make so much money from Airbnb rentals, resulting in higher prices for what is available.   

Airbnb is thus destroying the traditional diversity of communities, their fabric.  Middle class or elderly people find it increasingly difficult to either stay in or move to such areas.  Until recently, the issue of affordable housing was confined to housing for the poor or low-income working class.  Now it includes the middle class and elderly in any place that attracts tourists and thus provides a market for Airbnb rentals.  Additionally, such rentals often cause a nuisance to neighbors.

In most of the communities I’ve visited, local government is concerned about what is happening and is trying to regulate Airbnb.  But they are going at it in an ineffectual way.  They are starting with the presumption that owners have a right to rent out their property in this way. 

But do they?  If an owner, especially a non-resident owner, rents out either his whole house or rooms on a short term basis, how is this different in substance from a bnb or a hotel?  Yet it is being regulated more like the owner who used to live in a house and took in borders to help make ends meet.  Thus they talk about placing a cap on the number of rentals or requiring owners to pay a small annual fee.

I propose instead that zoning ordinances be amended so that Airbnb rentals, where the owner does not continue to reside on the premises during the rental, are regulated similarly to a bnb or a hotel.  Because of the impact on the whole community as well as immediate neighbors, approval of an Airbnb operation should be required by the local government authority before it can begin.  Input from neighbors should be obtained as part of a “special use” application if the area is zoned residential.

This is not a case of regulating the internet or modern technology.  This is a case of government regulating how a property is used, which is the traditional function of zoning. 

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Human Interaction Is Governed by Wounded Children - And How Mothers Can Alter That Dynamic

In my earlier post, “Ever Wonder Why the World Is the Way It Is” (9/4/17), I noted that “the ego-mind is not only filled with the fear, anxiety and self-centeredness (and often aggression) caused by insecurity but through continued wounding has acquired the lack of faith, trust, and cynicism of the Devil, which makes the dysfunction we observe all that more intractable.  And it explains the specter of evil that we see in all corners of the world.

“This is why the world is the way it is.  It’s not because people are bad … there is no such thing as a bad person, just people who do bad things … or that humans are flawed.  [We are born with the God-essence inside us; that is our true self.]  It’s because our life experience has made us insecure and our ego-minds have reacted in a way which makes us a threat to our own well-being and the well-being of those around us.  The greater our insecurity, the more of a threat we become.  At some point we become the Devil incarnate.”

Recently, doing research into the inner child, I learned that our wounded inner child is the avatar of our ego-mind. And that the wounded inner child is very much alive in our adult selves.  So when we react with our emotions, when we see things through the filter of our ego-mind, it is not the adult who is expressing itself but our wounded inner child.

Thus, when two people fight or bond or react to each other in whatever way, it is the one’s wounded inner child interacting with the other.  It is not two adults interacting.  This holds true within the family, in the workplace, in politics, and in international relations.

Is there any wonder then why there is so much dysfunction in the world?  Certainly if one looks at the behavior of our current President and many members of Congress, the image of out-of-control children seems applicable.

The common assumption that as we grow older we mature and assess things differently, more rationally, than we did as a child is wrong.  We grow smarter, we have more knowledge that we apply to situations, but in terms of our emotional reactions we have not grown out of our wounded inner child … unless we have healed that child.

Does this provide more hope for change than the realization in my previous post that our ego-mind has become that personification of the Devil?  Few people would want to self-identify with the Devil.  But perhaps even fewer people would choose to see themselves as out-of-control children.

OK.  But how can we use this knowledge to bring about change in how we, individually and collectively, interact; how do we end the dysfunction?  No one will change their habit-energy unless they are motivated to change.  And what motivates people to change is the awareness that there is a problem that's creating a barrier to achieving some goal.

Here, the problem is that we are suffering.  If you’re aware of that suffering, and assuming that you would rather not suffer … because it disturbs you, agitates you … and instead experience some peace and happiness, you will be motivated to undertake the effort needed to change.

If you then come to accept that your wounded inner child is controlling your emotions and thus is central to that suffering, the process of healing the inner child can take place.  And that process is probably somewhat easier than the spiritual path of freeing ourselves from the control of our ego-mind.

Unfortunately, if you asked Donald Trump or members of Congress or indeed most men if they are suffering they would answer, “no.”  If you asked them if they loved themselves, they would either answer, “yes,” not really understanding the meaning of the question, or look at you blankly, confused.

Women are often said to be more in touch with their feelings and so are more likely to be aware of their suffering.  But women unfortunately don’t control the workings of the world; men do.  And those women who have broken into that circle I have the feeling are not the ones who are more in touch with their feelings.

People who are not open to admitting their innermost feelings are lost, in a spiritual sense. They are in denial.  Any attempt to talk about their wounded inner child, let alone that they are controlled by that child, would just be met with laughter and derision.

So if there is to be a break-through in the human condition, it will come from your “average” not-obsessed-with-overachieving woman.  Women carry the main burden of raising children, regardless whether they are working or not.  If they were able to pursue that task free of their wounded inner child, that would give their children a real chance of getting the nourishment they need and developing into strong adults free of hobbling insecurities, free of being wounded.  

This would be huge.  It would break the cycle I described in my book, Raising a Happy Child, of insecure parents raising insecure children who become insecure adults who ….  It would change the future of human interaction.

Perhaps this suggests the need for a new wave of feminism.  (As a man, this is not a subject for me to touch really, but …)   Look for a future post on this subject.