My work environments for several decades have been places where there were more women than men. Sometimes this has been remarkably one-sided.
True, I’m not playing professional football, and a financial windfall in 1990 has allowed me to try to fill gaps left unaddressed by for-profit organizations (a luxury not everyone can afford).
In my most recent foray into the world of nonprofits—president of the New Mexico Parkinson’s Coalition, which, after five years as an independent 501-C-3, has just merged with a larger, multi-state Parkinson’s nonprofit (The PMD Alliance)—for most of the time I was the only man in a group of 15 people (two staff members and the board). So I’ve become used to working in an environment in which, as a man, I am the exception.
It’s not as if I felt like the “Ugly Duckling” in Hans Christian Anderson’s story—where a swan tries to act like a duck. I don’t feel that I have been dropped into the wrong nest or even that I prefer the company of women over men; nor do I believe that women are fundamentally better than men. But at a time in our society when there is a prolific push to acknowledge the power of women and to open doors for a greater female presence in government and the market place, I find myself wondering to what extent our society is actually moving toward a greater balance of male and female in our organizational fabric; and if so what benefits we hope will manifest.
In the present political situation, most notably in America, it’s not just that white males are still in charge, but that many of those males have abandoned their loyalty to any deeper humanity or concern for a greater, more inclusive realm.
There are important cultural currents still alive in our world, which view the femaleness of the Earth as vital. Unfortunately in American society, respect for “Mother Earth” is mostly left to those of us who see the wisdom of non-western cultures, in which our dependence on a living Earth is fundamental to our very existence (not just a qualification for being a good human being).
As long as we treat the Earth as an insentient warehouse from which we are entitled to take whatever we wish–with no thought to the health and wellbeing of the living, organic realm of which humanity is an integral part—both women and men can’t be fully themselves.
Perhaps our world’s imbalance is not just that the agencies of wealth and power are chiefly occupied by unevolved males focused on their own interests–like Narcissus falling in love with his own reflection on the surface of a lake. Perhaps it’s not even chiefly a matter of relationships between men and women in the external operations of our world.
To try to force a redress of inequality among groups of people may signal an important awareness of those imbalances and express a willingness to correct them. But the core imbalance is within each one of us. Unless our hearts and minds learn to harmonize within our own individual lives, we will be moving chairs on the Titanic as our ship tilts more and more toward the loss of all we have been given.