blank

THE LAST CHANCE REVOLUTION: WOMEN OF THE WORLD, YOU’RE ON!

By Barry Oshry

There are some things that are so obvious that we refuse to see them, or, when we do look, they appear ridiculous. The “Last Chance Revolution” is clearly one, a power move so vital to our continuing existence, yet, on the surface, insane, improbable, unrealistic, and ludicrous. In other words, potentially, the perfect power move.

Let us examine the context for the power move. War. War has always been with us, it is with us now in various spots around the globe, and a big one looms just around the corner. In the current paradigm, we do the usual things to prevent it and when they fail, we struggle through; win or lose, we take our losses (devastating as they are), move on, rebuild, and get set for the next one. The current situation, however, holds some special characteristics destined to take the familiar scenario to unspeakable levels of death and destruction, possibly to the end of civilization as we know it: the potential distribution of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons into the hands of zealots spread across the globe bent on holy missions of vengeance and justice in which there are no innocents.

There is nothing on the table – including the United Nations, religious activism, or peace movements – that holds any real hope for ending millennia of murderous brutality. The so-called realistic solutions are blatantly unrealistic. Where we are now is where such realpolitik has brought us.

So then who is responsible for the past, the present, and the imminent future of death and destruction? Our libraries are packed with theories of war; the identified causes are many: ideology, class struggle, scarce resources, greed, dreams of glory, biological imperatives. And we point to leaders, zealots, politicians, business interests, people bent on noble missions. Yet we remain blind to the obvious, the common denominator that underlies all our explanations.

Men!

Men make wars; they make them for any combination of the above reasons; but it is always men (all right almost always men) who make war.

So it is at this point where you stop reading. Just another crank. A crackpot. Get real, Barry, you say. On the other hand, I promise you this: From now on you will be unable to hear, read, or see anything about war – whether in the Near or Far East, Africa, the U.S, or South America – without a voice inside saying, “By George, he’s right, it’s men!” Men have done many marvelous things in this world; that is not the point. The subject is war, and men cause war. Always have. Presidents, premiers, kings, dictators, first citizens, juntas, prime ministers, rebel leaders. Men, mostly men. (Let’s hear it for the rare exceptions: Jeanne d’Arc, Golda Meir, and Margaret Thatcher.) Statistical aberrations, for it is mostly men who maim, destroy, displace, and disrupt the lives of the rest of us. Look closely. With few exceptions, women do not start wars. The following names do not appear in the history of warfare: Tanya Tojo, Bette Mussolini, Adele Hitler, Josephine Stalin, Ida Amin, Pauline Pot, Sadie Bin Laden, Georgina Bush, or Sophie Sharon. You get the point. It’s men, simply men. Throughout history, humankind (including men) have suffered from the posturing, positioning, derring-do, war-making proclivities of men.

Look closely. Iraq and the U.S. Two jocks faced off. Posturing. Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Good gravy, have you seen that immense statue of Hussein, rifle pointed in the air, his many palaces with their penile turrets pointing at the sky. The lightest reading of Freud should have caused the man to blush. And then we have Bush; he is tough and he’s got the weapons to back himself up; he’d go it alone if the other townsfolk wouldn’t come to his aid (Gary Cooper – you may recall - played the role in the movie); he can break treaties, threaten first nuclear strikes, vow to bring him back dead or alive, and promise to make the world safe for Americans or a bunch of us will die in the effort. The two of them, tough, heroic, real men, ready to take all of us to Armageddon in the name of all that is right.

We’ve got those mano a mano face-offs all across the globe – Colombia, Ivory Coast, Israel, Indonesia, Sudan, Congo, and on. Puzzlingly, so many of these penile gunslingers have God on their side. Also a man.

To this last point. There is a fascinating tale in the book of Jeremiah (44:19 and on.) It seems that the women had been worshiping the Queen of Heaven and in that period “we had plenty of food, and prospered, and saw no evil.” Coincidence? Or was there some special wisdom the Queen and her followers possessed? We’ll never know because the King of Heaven, the big guy we all know as God, came along, called Queen worship an abomination, and threatened no end of disasters. Well, what have we here? Two Gods, one male, one female, in conflict; the King suppresses the Queen; her story disappears (Jeremiah, speaking for his guy, the King of Heaven) tells it as if this Queen worship is an abomination, not a real alternative) and, from then on, women-rule is suppressed. Forever, world without end. What is the male god’s punishment of women? Pretty severe stuff: You cannot participate in the Temple rituals; your menstruation, rather than being a healthy body function, makes you impure; you are denied the priesthood; you are denied inheritance unless your father has no sons; your husband can divorce you at will; you cannot wear men’s clothing or do men’s work. What you must be is a dutiful daughter, a faithful wife, and a caring mother to your sons. In short: subservient to men. A short hop from that lost battle of the Gods to domination of all stripes from clitorectomy, to deprival of the vote, sexual harassment, spousal abuse (and murder), job exclusion and discrimination, and all points in between. Now, one can either take these rules and practices as wisdom from the mouth of an all-knowing God, a God of all the people (just like every elected president promises to be a president for all the people) who is simply advising us as to the natural order of things; on the other hand, we might see these as post-war punishment meted out to the defeated and dominated followers of the Queen of Heaven. You lost; what did you expect, an equal place at the table?

Women of the world, arise. En masse. In your countries, and across borders. Only you can prevent war. Men cannot; they make war to prevent war; that’s the only remedy they know. Yours is the last chance revolution. Men have taken your sons, destroyed your futures, created famines and holocausts, treated the world as if it were a soccer match, wasted resources on weapons of war, driven millions into exile, despoiled the earth. And they are at it again. And you, in your supportive, caring, nurturing ways, have colluded with them in this. You have lost your voice and adopted theirs; you have cheered them on, cursed their enemies, played the subservient role their god established for you. Talk about aligning with the oppressor!

Revolutions have come and gone; but they are always the same: men rebelling against men, and so, not surprisingly, the wars go on regardless of which collection of men is in power. The Last Chance Revolution calls for your leadership, not one more replication of theirs.

What can we expect of your leadership? Clearly, we would be stepping into a great unknown here. One thing seems certain, however, but one can never be sure: It can’t be worse. We men murder daily; certainly you can do better. It is not weakness we are in need of, but a different form of strength, something beyond winning, accumulating, expanding, dominating, being number one. What is the leadership that has been buried since the Queen of Heaven was relegated to an abomination? This is not for me to say, but I suspect it is the leadership of connection rather than separation, one that searches for and builds on commonality rather than difference, a leadership that can submerge self in the service of others, a leadership that seeks to relate to others rather than dominate them. Something like that, and it is something like that that the world cries out for.

Women of the world, open your eyes. Rise, organize, connect, reclaim the Goddess of Heaven; find your voice, recover your leadership, and throw off the yoke of war. Only you – women of Angola, Israel, the U.S., Iraq, Ivory Coast, Ireland, South Africa, Indonesia, Korea  -- only you can stop war. You are the world’s majority, and you are the Last Chance Revolution.