Sunday, June 02, 2002

Has a book ever changed your life?

This is a difficult question for me to answer. Certainly, various pieces and types of literature have electrified my imagination, stirred my spirit, and challenged my intellect (such as it is) over the years. But has any of them worked a definite change in the way I view the world or live my life? I can't recall any shocking and immediate changes occurring in my thinking as the result of the written word. I am sure, however, that the seeds of ideas harvested from disparate texts throughout my life have cross pollinated and taken root in the rich, dark soil at the bottom of my mind. What fruit or blossom they might bear after passing through the alembic of that mind I call mine remains, perhaps, to be seen.

A book that is bearing plentiful fruit for me at the moment is Riane Eisler's, The Chalice and the Blade. To attempt to sum this book up briefly would be to undermine the relevance of its topic but, in short, it concerns itself with the oppression, suppression and repression of women and femine ideals such as compassion, equality and sharing.

As I make my way through this book, I find issues such as male agression, war, feminism and the relationship of the sexes in general taking on new dimensions. Ms. Eisler, drawing on archeological evidence and utilizing the science of systems analysis, paints a very convincing picture of a world that might have been and yet may be if we can break free of what she refers to as "Dominator" ideals such as ranking, possession and agression which have shaped the cultures of the world for the last few millenia or so. As I make my way through this book I become increasingly convinced that perhaps the crucial problem facing us (the world community) today and one which underlies our shared history of war, genocide, and violence in general is one of gender. Specifically the female gender and it's place, or lack thereof, at the table in the conduct of social, cultural, human affairs.

As Elizabeth Cady Stanton said in 1848:

"Among the many important questions which have been brought before the public, there is none that more vitally affects the human family than that which is technically callled 'Women's Rights'."

There are certainly more women in positions of power and influence today than there were in Stanton's time but this statement rings just as true today as it did 150 years ago.

As this man's world spins faster and faster (where she stops nobody knows) into a future of environmental degradation and yet more war, let us hope it is a statement that is ringing loud enough to be heard.

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