We have just recognised some of the wonderful benefits when women unite. Now, more than ever, we should work to make it happen. Europe looks set to break apart – Brexit has indicated a desire to set up barriers between us rather than bring them down. The United States is showing signs of fragmenting along racial, religious, and economic lines – in the recent election the less well-off have made it clear they want to bring down the uncaring, greedy, fat cats. The fear and hate is building. At work we often fight it out, battle for higher pay, status, or power. In our neighbourhoods we barely speak to each other let alone take a compassionate interest in the wellbeing of those on the other side of the fence. Disunity has become a theme of the early twenty first century, and it is tearing families, communities, and countries apart. Women, united, can be the driving force that turns this all around. Here are just two ways – of many – women can unite so they become the examples that bring positive change to the world.
1. Find Commonality
Creating an enemy is easy, all we need to do is just focus on seeing the differences in someone else.
Nature gave us a way to identify threats – enemies – to life and family. It made us see friends as those similar to us – we were made by nature to survive in close-knit groups – often clans or tribes – who share much in common. It isn’t one of our own we should be afraid of, they are our friends, it is those who don’t think, dress, talk, and behave like us we need to be weary of. It is hard to unite with an enemy, or someone we think could be. Yet creating friends, or potential enemies, is a choice. It is determined by what we choose to see and focus on, whether we decide to pay attention to the similarity or the difference.
Suppose we choose to see someone’s similarities, such as them liking the same food, drink, sharing a love for family, good company, and what is best for our children. Then we focus on seeing in them someone like us – friends, or potential friends. Choose to focus on their different skin colour, language, religious beliefs, and what they wear, and we see inside them people who are dissimilar, and potential enemies or threats. But we, by our choice of focus, have made them either friend or enemy, often before we even get to know them. We can set up barriers that prevent us uniting before we realise it.
To make matters worse, by treating people like they are a threat they will act like one. Treat them like friends, however, and they are more likely to become friends and allow us to come together.
So, next time you meet a woman you don’t know why not focus on what you have in common and try to ignore what is different? When you are among other women why not talk about what you both like or dislike – sharing a common hatred or dislike can still bring down the barriers between us. Better still, share one thing you all have in common that no one can take from you; being a woman – only another woman can truly know what being a woman is like and the many difficulties you face in a world still dominated by men.
Focus on commonality and women can unite and foster friendship and peace.
Without respect we poison our friendships, and drive each other apart.
Respect, put simply, means treating everyone – including ourselves – as just as important and worthwhile as anyone else – none of us are superior or inferior, no one is more worthwhile or less. This means never intentionally harming anyone, or denying them life fulfilment – including ourselves.
How can we show respect?
We can start by be never abusing, shouting, ignoring, bullying, excluding, or demeaning anyone else. We can also do it by offering real choice, and saying please and thank you.
If I take away your choice to drink when you are thirsty, eat when you are hungry, or find warmth when you are freezing am I being your equal or acting like your superior? To give orders is to show we are better than another person, that our way and our needs are more important than there’s. Yes, it can work in the military, orders make for a quick, coordinated, fighting force. Among the rest of us it simply indicates lack of respect. What shows the greatest respect for someone is not to order them but to give them the opportunity to actually say no, without the harsh word, silent treatment, or disapproving look. Real choice doesn’t come with punishing them for not doing what we want.
Put simply, equals offer real choice, options, different insights, reasons, and points of view. Friends offer real choice. Those who will impose their will on us, those who consider us inferior, even our enemies, will give us orders or make demands and punish us if we don’t comply.
So to unite with other women never order them or make demands and get upset if they don’t do what you want or expect. Let them say no. And don’t forget the please and thank you.
‘Please’ and ‘thank you’ are the language of respect. They say: I recognise your life is important too. Thank you for taking the time to help me or let me in the cue at café for lunch – I recognise your time is precious. Thank you for offering to make me a tea or coffee – I know you could have been doing other things. Could you please help me with the groceries? Could you please help me look after the kids? Please is the reminder we can always say no – this is not an order.
Don’t you prefer a genuine please and thank you? Doesn’t it make you feel better than being shouted orders?
Respect each other – and ourselves – and we make it easier to get along and unite.
In a time when the world seems to be fragmenting and feel less safe women can be the optimistic examples to their children, husbands, communities, and families, that bring about positive change. They can, united as a force for caring, respect, and tolerance, also be a political force that changes the direction and priorities of their representatives, and a nation – as a combined and united voice they have great social and political power. Now is not a time for despair, now is a time of great hope, a hope found in the promise of women of all ages and nations deciding to support each other and, once again, as many of the great sisterhoods of tribal societies once did, unite for the benefit of us all. Perhaps it can begin by finding unity in commonality and respect.
Several other practical ways to help women unite can be found in ‘The Fall and Rise of Women, How women can change the world.’ There are chapters devoted to respect and friendship for this purpose.