I approached this month’s “Women’s History Month” with a bit of trepidation.
While I have no problem looking back to appreciate the progress women are making, my concern is that our progress is measured by the standard of accomplishment and success that has been, for so long, set by men. So often Women’s History Month simply means observing and evaluating ourselves through the lens of men’s values and proclivities.
The contribution of women throughout history is not necessarily marked by a specific achievement in time and space. It is marked by a progressive society in which integrity, compassion and creativity are displayed by its citizens. The point being that the development of character of every generation is almost entirely in the hands of mothers. That unique maternal ability to nourish, to communicate and empathize, to encourage and uplift (abilities that are inherent in all women whether they have children or not) has spread out and spilled over into the workplace, into all fields of endeavor, and into all our social institutions—providing an underlying support for everyone. In this sense, we have to appreciate that women’s contributions throughout history are interwoven with every achievement of all men and women.
Yet the focus of women’s history seems to be on those well-known “important achievements by women” that everyone dredges up to prove that women can, in fact, accomplish what men can accomplish. And while those specific accomplishments certainly reflect the unique qualities that women have to offer (as well as the universally shared potential of all human beings) they cannot possibly do justice to the extensive influence that our natural, innate maternal skills have in molding the quality of collective life. In other words, what women have accomplished can never be measured or truly understood by means of a contribution, for example, that helped send an astronaut into outer space.
Women are the very foundation of any social structure. Our most fundamental accomplishments are taken for granted the way we take breathing air for granted. Whether or not a woman is a mother of children, her maternal nature naturally manifests in countless ways for the good of this world. The nourishing power of women is a force of evolution in and of itself.
What we need to be celebrating and acknowledging and re-enforcing is our ability to hold on to our authentic voice in its intrinsic nourishing power. And this extraordinary nourishing power of ours includes qualities that, on the ground of strength, righteousness and integrity, uphold the more refined, more gentle, more subtle and more beautiful values of life—which, in turn, elevate life to the realm of graciousness and dignity and higher moral and ethical inclinations.
As we step into what has been a man’s world for centuries upon centuries, and as we look back on a history that appears to be so dominated by men that we have to set aside a special month to be able to identify the extent of the contributions that women have made in the history of civilization, we may come to appreciate that our greatest accomplishment has been, and will always be, our ability to most fully reflect the more tender, more merciful impulses of our own nature and to infuse those values into the world around us.
If we are going to take time this month to reflect on our progress and our achievements, then let’s move beyond the surface level of “doing” in order to explore the depths of “Being.” Let’s take time to settle into our inner quietude in order to rediscover our essential feminine nature that resides in the subtlest modes of feeling, from where we most profoundly impact this world.
It is time to understand our own nature—our own power—on our own terms, such that we can live authentically. In so doing, not only will we find our way to personal fulfillment, but we will transform the world as well.
Ultimately, every one of us must take the journey to our innermost Self. This is not only the best way to celebrate being a woman, it is the only way to fully experience the glory of who we are. Otherwise we are left to reflect on what we have done in the light of what men have done.
The point here is certainly not to limit our aspirations in any way. It is only to remind ourselves that in order to accomplish and contribute anything of substance, it is essential that we live in accord with our own feminine values—values that we must discover by ourselves, for ourselves. By knowing ourselves deeply and fully, we will be able to define what it is, for ourselves, that constitutes real progress and true accomplishment.
As an organization dedicated to this process, we offer every woman the opportunity to experience the innate strength and happiness that forms the bedrock of our self-sufficiency, which in turn is the foundation from which we give and nourish and heal ourselves and the world around us—a world that needs us now more than ever. Let’s celebrate this month, and every month, by taking back our power to nourish in such a way that upholds our dignity and the dignity of others—because it is this power that has always been the basis for the most significant contributions throughout history.
Candace Badgett PhD
International Trustee: Transcendental Meditation for Women