I saw Riane Eisler at Amazon Bookstore last night. She wrote The Chalice and the Blade in 1987. As I commented in Saints or Sinners, she has a new book out, The New Wealth of Nations. It took her 10 years to write it. It took her 10 years to write The Chalice and the Blade.
Talk about process.
Eisler is an Austrian born Nazi survivor who has dedicated her life to meaningful work designed to evoke world change. She’s written books about politics, sex, partnerships, and now, money. She is animated and funny. She has a serious message.
When I left, I wondered if I was doing enough. I have a feeling that’s exactly what she wants me to wonder.
I sat next to Liz on the green couch a few feet from Riane, the same spot I sat to see Jean Shinoda Bolen a few weeks ago. I am still digesting Riane’s talk. I haven’t read her new book yet. It’s hot off the presses. She wrote the Intro in January 2007. We were her first book signing. She drove to Amazon straight off the plane at MSP.
Wordraw responded in his New Saturday post to a comment I made from Eisler that there is a need for women to penetrate high places, not only in this country, but the world. Places where important decisions are made about the economy and war and wages and healthcare.
It isn’t because women have all the answers. Or are better at doing the job. It is to role model a connecting, relational archetype. So that people in power (who for every great effort we have made over the last 50 years are still mostly men) can learn new ways of relating.
And those who are not, can become empowered.
“You can’t just throw money at women and children in 3rd world cultures and expect change,” she said. “The best thing you can do is help them organize politically. They have to infiltrate a system that wants to keep them submissive. Teach them to be empowered.”
Eisler’s categories may seem general. They are broad because she studies systems. She is looking at the economic model from a broader perspective which includes gender. I’m thinking she gets into details in her book which is widely supported by many influential men, as well as women. But I’ll have to read it to tell you more.
One thing I know for sure – the old warrior models we are operating under are not working. As Wordraw said in New Saturday, “there are wars, skirmishes and a feudal mentality dominates politics. There is a lot of hunger, many types, lack of milk and lack of compassion.”
There were pointed questions in the basement at Amazon after her talk. One woman haughtily asked, “Why can’t the U.S. be more like Europe, more progressive in its thinking?”
“What do you mean?” Riane said. “Right now there is more anti-Semitism in Europe than anywhere else I’ve seen. Don’t forget, Hitler came out of Europe.”
Another woman asked her what she thought was holding this country back. She paused for a moment. Then she said the fundamentalist religious thread running through the heart of this country is where the greatest resistance is rooted. Fundamentalism in any religion is about power. With dominance, as opposed to partnerships, you are either with them or you’re a threat. It’s black and white.
But the world is full of gray. And if relational global models are allowed to penetrate the dominate system in great enough numbers, then the dominant will feel less threatened. They can let their guard down. And the balance of power can start to be restored.
Eisler sees women, and men who are willing to embrace the feminine in themselves, as the great equalizers. For all of us. But mostly, for the children of the next generation.
I can’t speak for Eisler. And I wouldn’t want to. All of this is my interpretation after an hour of listening and filtering her words through my own experiences and brain. But I felt a need to write about it. I am being moved in a direction of action. I don’t know yet what that will be.
At the end of her talk, there was tension in a room filled primarily with middle-aged women (there was only one man) who leaned toward the left. Many of us had fought hard in our early 20’s for equal rights.
I started to wonder, if there is this much dissension among grassroots women on the ground where her message is most likely to take seed, what hope is there for the rest of the world?
She wasn’t fazed. She said we need to keep talking. She sees hope for this country. There are many good things that spring from our rugged individualism. She has not given up.
Sunday, March 25th, 2007