I am writing on the day some millions of women and men marched for dignity around the world. I was so deeply proud of my many friends marching in Washington, Boston, LA, Phoenix, Austin, Sydney, San Francisco, London.
It was by their accounts peaceful and respectful. Some people have asked, what is the point? What difference will a march make?
Marches as peaceful protests have changed the course of history. Think Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jnr. Unity and solidarity, and the refusal to stay silent and passive can be expressed by people coming together. We can use our collective impulse to march as a launch pad for inspired action, and I believe many people who did march will go to the next step of action.
I have realised this week that good needs to be fought for every single day. Every single moment of every day we get to make a choice. The choice of integrity, truth, courage, heart, kindness, love…or the choice of lies, silence, cruelty, violence, greed, deception, betrayal.
As I was listening to the remarkable book The Blue Sweater, by Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder of Acumen Fund, as she talks about her work in Rwanda before the genocide, building a Microfinance bank for poor women, and how one of the founders of this bank was the Minster of Justice during the genocide and actively encouraged men to kill women and children in their thousands (800,000 killed in total), I realised evil is a breath away from all of us. And it comes in any gender and colour. This women shifted from serving women in poverty, to actively encouraging genocide. I wonder how people can make that seemingly massive jump.
The remarkable Hannah Arendt, in her essay, Eichmann in Jerusalem, wrote of little atrocities. Minor transgressions that we either perpetrate, or step over. In both cases we collude to enable the perpetration to increase in mass. The next day, just that little bit easier to enact another little atrocity on another. Or for the perpetrated to accept the next order of perpetration that has been enacted on them. Until we have outright evil being delivered, or being received.
“The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.” Hannah Arendt
Good needs to be fought for every single day. In the silent spaces within us. And in our acceptance or not of others treatment of us.
We women have stayed silent for too long. We have said yes to lower pay, to having it be OK to be touched. (I was 11 years old when a family friend stuck his tongue down my throat and tried to touch my breasts, right in front of my parents, who had no idea. And this is normal for women. Not the exception. The norm. I knew it was wrong and revolted me. But I didn’t know what to do. So I stayed silent.) To being ignored, for being ridiculed for when we have a powerful voice and ridiculed for when we have no voice. To have men make decisions about our body and reproductive rights.
I was chatting with Catherine McGregor, a wonderful transgender women who had a sex change when she was 55 following an exceptional career as a senior leader in Australia’s Army. As a man, she was used to being listened to.
I asked her this question. “If you now go into meetings and no one in the meeting has your back story (as in know one knew she was a male in a previous time), have you noticed any difference in how you are treated?” “Yes,” she said. “They offer me tea, and other courtesies, and then when I have something to say, I am more often than not, ignored. I have to repeat myself. Say it louder. But even that doesn’t work. It is like I don’t exist.”
I know that experience. I know the experience of being told I am a bitch because I have a strong opinion and because I do not suffer fools. Most women know this. And yes, most of us have enabled the perpetrator to get away with little atrocities.
What I witnessed with the Womens March was a turn in the tide. Brought out by the ridiculous misogynist new President. If it takes DT to be in the White House to bring about women around the world rising up, then we can thank DT. Seriously thank him. As in a deep bow of thanks.
It has always been the way, out of the darkness there is eventually light. Each day we get a dawn. This day, this dawn, we get to choose again.
Am I brave enough to commit myself to integrity? To truth? To love? To speaking up? To acting as a citizen? To bring democracy to life? (for democracy is an act, not something to watch) To not be a bystander? To not be a finger pointer on the sidelines? To get into the fray? All in? And if so, what can I do?
This was the impulse behind me starting Big Blue Sky. How can I provide a platform for citizens to come together to act together for the future well being of their entire community? We are still trying to figure it out.
The first thing to know, with clear certainty, is that no one voice is too small, no one act is too little. And that when we come together, peacefully, we can move the world in time.
This is what it means to be in service to humanity. To every day choose integrity. Justice. Kindness. Love. To every day choose…to live, breath and fight for good.