We need a better education, in this country, in how to face our own inner reality, to know ourselves with honesty, and to know the role other people and our world play in knowing ourselves. For example, we might grow up thinking our happiness lies primarily with what we own or how much money we have, so we are never satisfied with what we have. Or we think true power results from control over others, so we never feel in control of ourselves. We look externally to satisfy what requires us to look internally.
I hope I’m not simply projecting, but I think #MeToo is now being taken by more men I know not as an attack on them, but as a way of waking us up to the reality of the women we relate to. By awakening to the reality of others, we wake to the reality of ourselves.
As long as men see women primarily in terms of our own needs and projections, we will always be dissatisfied with our relationships with them. As long as we try to feel strong, or create a secure, satisfying relationship by controlling our partner, whomever she or he is, we will never feel strong, secure or satisfied.
As long as we think of those we love, instead of our own inner emotional nature, as the source of our love and excitement, we will always feel somewhat controlled by the other, and powerless. And some kind of dissatisfaction, even resentment or anger, will develop and undermine our loving.
In the same way, when we feel anger, we might feel that by getting angry we hurt the object of our anger. We might feel the anger itself is retribution for a hurt or attack. But who is it that carries the anger and thus primarily suffers from it?
We might think that by destroying the power of others we increase our own power. But by doing so we develop an addiction. We think we are so weak that we can only feel powerful when others are powerless. We grow dependent on weakness. So we need stronger and stronger hits of the drug of weakness and delusion. We grow more and more incapable of looking at the world directly or clearly.
This may be one reason why the politics of resentment excites so many people. Or why it is so easy to develop a strong group feeling by creating a shared enemy to attack. People addicted to ignoring their internal reality are easily misled about the source of both their anger and the possible path to their freedom. They look to someone to blame because they can’t see the origin of their pain in themselves. We need to change this — and the #MeToo movement, I think, can help us do so.
Not that #MeToo has been easy on anyone. It must be infuriating for any woman and excruciating for a woman who was abused, to hear stories of abuse of women by powerful men. I think about the hearings with Judge Kavanaugh and just shudder.
And for men ⎼ we all grew up with changing forms of patriarchy. I grew up in a very different time, back in the 1950s and 60’s. There were so many contradictory images of being a man and how to relate to women, particularly to those I found attractive.
I wanted to be aware and caring yet felt pressured to be aggressive. It took a while to learn how to hear and value myself and better perceive others. Men need to, I need to, grow even better at noticing not only what we need but also what others need.
We have to learn how to see anyone we meet as free, independent people who feel and think about the world in ways somewhat similar to our own, yet beyond what we know or think we know.
One thing we can do is set aside two minutes or so, in different parts of the day ⎼ to stop what we’re doing, close our eyes, and get in touch with how it feels to breathe in and out and notice how we feel. Before meeting others, we might visualize those others, and allow our thoughts and images of them to come to our awareness. We might openly hold an image of each of these people in our heart and mind, so we feel what they might feel and hear what they might say and mean.
Our sense of who we are is created not just out of our own reality but the reality of how we treat and think about others. And likewise, how we look at others is tied to how we look at ourselves. #MeToo can possibly motivate the birth of a new sense of love and compassion, a new sense of how interdependent we all are.
Many of those in power are obviously not even attempting to do this. But if the rest of us do so, we will only be strengthened, and our nation will be strengthened.
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