By Jocelyn Lena Twight
I sat down on a Sunday in January to write down my soul. What I wrote that day is not what you will read here. I did not have the theme of Sisterhood yet, but I had just been baptized in it. I was swimming in a sea of good will. Instead I am writing today from a place of reflection. My thoughts are reflecting on the larger Community of women with whom I am linked by country but who might think we do not share a single common interest.
I want the women in this country to rise above the points we cannot agree on. That’s a hard thing for many women to do. We are often an army of passion who are not likely to lay down our swords. We could make peace with our enemies, or simply un-friending them would be easier. We need to find a way to move past thinking that because you support one thing, it means you oppose another. We have become hard wired lately to debate even our friends.
There are many women who hear one thing, see one picture or glimpse one point of view and they use that broad stroke to paint in their impression of all feminists. Feminism, by definition, is simply the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of equality of the sexes. But we keep being divided on the finer points. When we add in our own morals we degrade that basic equality to a fractionalized point of breaking.
I intruded on a conversation between two women in the coffee house loft I was writing from, to pose a question. I asked these two women, “Do you think you could find enough common values with other women to stand beside them, even if you disagree on moral differences?” After some discussion the answer was plain. She said to me, “Yes, because we have to do something!” I could not agree more. So this is the survey of women voters we need; what are the common interests that women voters share across socioeconomic and party lines?
Once we can have enough self reflection to find those answers, we can move forward without allowing ourselves to be fractured: Left vs. Right, Pro vs. Choice, Trump vs. Hillary vs. Obama vs. Bernie! Just. Stop. Once we, as women, find our commonality we WILL make a change in America. We need to admit to each other that there is a whole heaping amount of area between these lines that is used to push us apart. We are allowing that to happen.
I do not care who you voted for. I care about my community and making it better for all who live here. Once I change my community, it will change my city. Once the cities change, the state changes. When our states are united our country will have to follow.
As women I don’t feel we will reach this ideal of Sisterhood we strive for, until we stop pushing our morals on women who only share our idea of the value regarding basic equality. We can only move forward once we stop judging each other. We have been divided too long already. What happens we you stop allowing external forces to cloud your judgment about your fellow women? Let me show you two personal examples.
That weekend in January I was staying at the house of a friend of mine, a friend for 20 years. We did not like each other when we first met. She was the dragon lady and she was a ferocious restaurant manager. She is a strong, smart and intimidating woman, and if that’s not enough, she is gorgeous. Many of the staff and I would tip toe around her. I finally became determined to find out what made her so mad all the time. Then, one exceedingly long closing shift later, we were the last two people in the massive building. I was reconciling money and realized she was at her desk, crying. She looked at me with anger and embarrassment. She finally said she was trying to wait for me to leave before she broke down but I just wouldn’t leave. Why wouldn’t I leave?
I can be too honest for my own good. I explained I was, in essence, trying to break the dragon lady with my irrationally happy, helpful ways. She laughed and it worked. I began calling her My Captain then. I was the Maid of Honor at her wedding. We have traveled, loved, fought, cried and fell out of touch at times. We have lost parents, had a child, lost a child, and shared so much. I cannot imagine my life without her. We can sit on the couch near each other, seemingly ignoring each other, but really just that comfortable in our company. We don’t need to see eye to eye, but we will when necessary to simply support each other. That is respect. That is love. This friendship gives me hope.
I met my former neighbor during a 5K race, only to discover we lived literally across the street from each other. Her life is a spiritual quest filled with love. I adore her and she pushes my boundaries every time. She makes me cry over my inability to trust others when we ride bikes or dance in the street in the broad daylight or paint our bodies for fun. She is traveling with a circus of sorts across foreign countries and having name changing experiences I cannot wait to hear about.
She and I seem to have nothing in common. Yet we actually do. Day by day we use the little things to create a bond of Sisterhood. We create time to hang out whenever we both end up in the same state, even if we are just carpooling together to our next adventure. There is a connection in the crystals we both keep under our pillows while we sleep. We share the loss of loved ones, defend each other’s choice to remain single, support each other’s opportunities to travel and to grow. We have an agreement to disagree at times, but always a willingness to see each other’s point of view with open eyes. That is respect. That is love. This friendship gives me hope.
We have this turbulence in our society. We are suddenly forced to look at people we have known for years and wonder how we never noticed things about them. I think back to the March and I think of all the women who felt they were not welcome. I think of what we could have done to include them.
I want those missing women to know I marched for them because I believe in their right to disagree with me. I believe in their right to not protest. If I see a woman lying in the street I don’t stop to ask her party affiliation. No. Not even close. I ask her name, allergies and where it hurts as I call for help. We all need to call for help, because our communities are fractured. That lady in the road is a female American who feels her voice is not heard and I won’t belittle her by asking how she got there. I care about helping her to get back up. I want her strong enough to tell her story of this time in history in her own words to those not yet born. I am willing us to turn these raw emotions into wisdom for the ages.
I have spread my wings. I have moved cross country. I have given up my comfortable safe life in the mountains. I have taken a job where the goal is safe, accessible healthcare for all. It is just a little step. I took it to help those around me. I am using my life to try to not just talk about change but to create it. I am trying to find more ways in which I can make a difference. What can you do to mend fences and bring other women into your group? Where can you find that common bond with those who don’t agree with you? How can we create a Society of Women who are so linked by common interest that we no longer feel the need to march in the streets because we do it from the comfort of the house and the senate and the court and the classroom and the office and the community?
Please don’t just talk about community, but broaden yours. I will use the wise words of Deepak Chopra from The Deeper Wound. It was written after 9/11 and is just as fitting for today. He lists these words as reflections to use for healing:
“We are contained in each other. Therefore I can love anyone as myself.
We are contained in each other. Therefore I can accept anyone as myself.
We are contained in each other. Therefore I can understand anyone as myself.
I see everyone as I see myself. My true self responds with love.”
Jocelyn is living off-grid in the northern wilderness where she runs with her two dogs and makes a living helping to provide safe, affordable healthcare for all. She tends to green, living things in her off time.