After the election results last week, I received many texts, phone calls, and Facebook messages that the world needed The Notable Woman now more than ever.
Meh, I thought.
I didn’t know if I agreed. Half the country didn’t even vote in this election. While I am sure a percentage of that half was disenfranchised, the majority didn’t think this election or their vote mattered enough to be bothered. Of the other half of the electorate, slightly more than half voted for one side and slightly less than half voted for the other.
Could we possibly be more divided?
People worrying about whether or not their marriage will become second class are told not to worry. Really? Why shouldn’t they? Rural communities are economically suffering, and they’re hurting. They feel like no one cares about them. The other side says my pain is worse than yours. This is the United States of America.
United? Never less so.
Even on the same side, people attack each other. You should be protesting; you shouldn’t be. Protesting is your constitutional right; your protest is interrupting my day. Wear a safety pin to show you’re for the safety of others; wearing a safety pin is an ineffective white entitled way of pretending you’re doing something.
All this division makes me hurt. I have this annoying “strength” according to Clifton’s Strengthsfinder of seeing that people are connected and more the same than not (Connectedness and Includer). In times like these, this definitely feels more like a weakness.
And so my friends said, “We need you.”
And my buddy Shelly Robinson says, “You lead with love and understand people so well and that’s why you’re hurting so bad.”
My husband says, “Lead with your heart.”
Okay, could I?
And he also said, “Get off your ass and go meditate.”
Gosh, he’s such a bossy butt. Okay, fine. I meditated. My mantra was, “What am I supposed to be doing?” Oh so clever, right?
And what kept popping into my head is 100 women’s stories. 100 women’s stories. Okay, why? Why? Why would 100 women’s stories make any difference at all? And what came into my head is that you can’t hate the person you know. And how do you know people but by hearing their stories? Of course, with this idea, the most important part is that the 100 women truly represent the make-up of the world. Gay, straight, transgender. Black, white, Asian, Indian, and more. Rich and poor. Doctors and women with life experience as their job training. Christians, Jews, Muslims. Women who like the Cowboys, even (thinking about Nicole Mustaccio here).
I tossed this idea at a few people. They liked it. I read a great article in The Washington Post
about Professor Kathy Cramer’s work with rural communities in Wisconson. She ended with, “It’s the act of being with other people that establishes the sense that we actually are all in this together.” Yes! You are never more with someone than when you hear her story. And also, the act of listening to someone’s voice and REALLY hearing them is an intimate act. When I listen to someone on a podcast, I feel like I really know them.
“Fear and separation are a pattern that must be interrupted on a moment-to-moment basis.”
“Knowing that you are one with the Universe means that you accept that you’re not more special than or separate from others.”
“The pathway back to hope is through surrender. It’s not something that comes naturally to us- it must be a daily practice.”
Slowly, I was coming around to a better place. And then in Chapter 12, Bernstein stresses what Shelly told me almost a week ago – Lead with love.
And so that my friends is what I am going to do. And also, I don’t judge what you decide to do. We each have that choice.
What I need from you is my 100 women. I’ve got several ideas in mind, but together, we can put together stories that will unite and heal in ways that only stories can. Also, as a college educated woman, most of the people I know are college educated women. I don’t get out much. I need your help.
[Edit: Obviously, the difference in vote totals has shifted from anything but “slight” since I first wrote this.]