I woke up on Thursday morning to the news of Russia invading Ukraine. In my mind, it felt like Phase Two of the Modern Apocalypse had begun.
And as we always do… I went to work. I mean the 9 to 5 kind of work. Isn’t that what we always do?
I work in preschools. I have to say that it’s pretty hard to sing and dance with a group of toddler children while there is a war going on. I’m tempted to go into imagery here… but I think I’ll spare it. Suffice it to say that images of people dying and killing each other do not sit well with a front-row view of a group of two year old kids singing “Old MacDonald”.
And to paraphrase an old hippy song… What the hell are we fighting for?
Between classes, I walked past the preschool kitchen and noticed a half-finished box of Girl Scout cookies on the table. The front panel caught my attention: It showed the word “G.I.R.L.” - as an acronym, in pretty bright colors.
Underneath that, it showed me what the letters stood for:
I’ll be honest: I don’t know a thing about the Girl Scouts. I’m thrilled that they encourage their girls to believe in themselves, and I’m sure they also put plenty of value on other things, as well. But I couldn’t help but wonder how this poster image on one of the most iconic girl-related items in our culture… was devoted entirely to character traits that I would actually have considered very “masculine”. What worries me is that it seems as though these are the only characteristics that we have come to value - whether we are Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts. Is it at all admired - to be feminine these days? For anybody?
Let’s face it. Money is everything. Status is everything. Motherhood seems to often be viewed as a questionable challenge. Love is a cliche.
Outside the preschool, everyone is busy trying to be these four “Girl-Scouty” things, and more. We are all judging ourselves by what we have, what we can achieve, and how influential we can be. School teaches us to be smart, to be competitive, to be strong (in gym class), to stand out in a crowd, to be independent, to be successful. It prepares us for a life of obtaining and managing money more than anything else, in my opinion. A successful education is one that leads to a good career, and a big house in a nice neighborhood. Bigger is better, stronger is better.
And then we grow up… and what kind of a political world do we create?
During the Peloponnesian War (in ancient Greece), Pericles was chosen to speak in front of the Athenian people in remembrance of their dead. As the war was still raging, he had one thing to say to the women: That they “not show more weakness than is natural to [their] sex… and not to be talked about for good or for evil among men.” He was basically telling them to suck it up, and keep their mouths shut, as far as I can tell.
Why would he say that?
As an Israeli, I can say that the most aggressive and enduring peace protests I’ve seen have come from women. The conversation about Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon (which eventually happened in the spring of 2000) was dominated by an organization called “The Four Mothers” - all four of whom had lost their sons in Lebanon.
We need feminine wisdom to remind us that life has a value of its own - whether or not you are rich or famous. This is something we all know - whether we are men or women. But in our world, sadly, and since long before Pericles, we have placed pretty much all of our energy on more masculine things: Being bigger, faster, better, stronger. Those are the people who get the medals. And while China just finished passing out medals, Russia is busy trying to invade Ukraine.
I pray for every wounded soul in this world. I pray for every mother, father, and child - we are all these. I pray that after thousands of years of masculinity almost literally being the “upper hand”, that we begin to make room for feminine wisdom. Yes, even in our cookies. But certainly - in our children.
Sending much love to everyone and hoping for the best in all of this.