This piece was originally published on Buzzflash.
Thank You Alice: A Meditation for the Winter Solstice
by Lucinda Marshall
In the dark days of approaching winter here in the Northern Hemisphere, Alice Walker’s new book, “We Are The Ones We Have Been Waiting For: Inner Light In A Time Of Darkness”, offers an inspiring path of peaceful courage. In this short but eminently wise volume, Walker talks about many things, including a tribe, the Swa, where it is the job of women to say stop when behavior and actions are in damaging excess. As Walker eloquently states, in our own society and time, now is the time not only for women to say stop, but also for men to listen. She shares a statement from the Elders of the Hopi Nation that ends with these lines,
“All that you do now must be done in a sacred manner
And in celebration.
“We are the ones we have been waiting for…””
The last line, also the title of Walker’s book, is from June Jordan’s Jordan’s “Poem for South African Women”. Toward the end of the book, Walker offers this,
“I believe it is a time of great awakening, and that this awakening is global, hence the race by patriarchal powers worldwide to suppress and subjugate women, who, awake, are notorious for seeing why things are going wrong, and saying so.”
In recent days, there have been numerous reports that bear out the truth of Walker’s words. Both Dahr Jamail and Yanar Mohammed have described the horrific violence that is being committed against women in Iraq, including rape, kidnappings and beheadings, the former two sometimes at the hands of American troops.
Women within the ranks of the U.S. Military are also being victimized with impunity. Army Spc. Suzanne Swift, who went AWOL because she had been sexually assaulted by soldiers in her unit, recently pled guilty to avoid being court-martialed. The military only substantiated one of her allegations of sexual assault and the soldier in question was let off with only a reprimand and re-assigned to another unit.
In another case involving U.S. military personnel in the Philippines, three out of four U.S. soldiers who had been charged with raping a Filipino woman were recently acquitted. Clearly, violence against women in the name of militarism is still a de-facto weapon of war.
And what of the voices of women who speak out? Walker cites Julia Butterfly Hill, Amy Goodman and Rep. Barbara Lee as examples of women who are speaking out against the madness. Of course there are so many more, Cindy Sheehan, Diane Wilson, Medea Benjamin, Cynthia McKinney and grandmothers who risk arrest because it has become so urgent that we stop the carnage that is being perpetrated throughout the world.
As Medea Benjamin reports, the U.S. government just spent thousands of dollars to arrest and prosecute four women for the dangerous crime of wearing pink, singing and trying to deliver petitions to the U.N. At the same time, we continue to sell arms to just about anyone and nuclear weapons to our closest friends so that later we may accuse them of being a nuclear threat when they are not our friends while leaving cluster bombs for those we don’t like. And of course there are the many, many more women around the world speaking out in other countries, frequently at the risk of great personal danger.
May Chidiak, a Lebanese reporter who lost a hand and a leg in a car bomb attack put it this way in her acceptance speech when she received the International Women’s Media Foundation’s 2006 Courage Award,
“I was chosen to be the pioneer of women in Lebanese political assassination attempts. Maybe just to add some décor around the pictures of the dead and living martyrs, or maybe they just believed that a woman in a patriarchal society is starting to have too much of an influence on the people and needed to be quieted.”
Sadly, Ms. Chidiak is probably entirely correct.
The Christmas legend talks about three wise men. But in our own time, and in the times that came before, there have been and are many, many wise women. This year, in the darkness of the Winter Solstice, let us resolve not only to listen to the wisdom of these women but to have the courage and strength to raise our own voices, to say that it is time to stop the damaging, time to heal the wounds and affirm what is truly sacred, the lives of all and the earth on which we live.