Monday, November 01, 2010

Dream, Part Four



Part Three is here

One of the most insidious by-products of being valued less than others is the feeling that you have nothing to offer. There is nothing so disheartening as the notion that you are either completely disposable or that your efforts are in vain and the fruits of your labor unnecessary.

In the early twentieth century, as the economy in America began turning from a subsistence model to a production model, women became increasingly disenfranchised. In the subsistence model, everything they contributed to the household, from farming to childrearing to producing clothing and food for the family was seen as vitally important to the family unit as a whole - not more or less valuable than any other member of the family. As men began to leave the household to seek paid work in factories and towns, women were left with more of the household chores but were valued less simply because it was money that made the world revolve and they were not paid for their efforts.

As my children grew from toddlerhood into true childhood they began to ask for ways to contribute. Even before then, they loved to play with toy versions of my vacuum cleaner and run the dustcloth over the coffee table and bookshelves. Today, they take pride (and, yes, sometimes complain mightily) in taking out the garbage, feeding the dog, and setting the table for dinner. Last Saturday night they shooed Bubba and I out of the kitchen, prepared a menu with beverage choices, cooked a pot of pasta and made a fruit salad and a green salad and served us dinner at a table lit with candles. The idea that they were grown up enough to produce an entire meal for us tickled them for days and Lola still presses me to tell friends and family about their endeavor.

Today seems a particularly salient day to be making the point about how important everyone's contributions are, given that tomorrow is Election Day in the US. There are thousands of individuals who will choose not to throw their ballot into the mix simply because they don't have any faith that it will make a difference one way or the other. The simple idea that one's opinion doesn't count removes most of the motive for sharing it. Why the heck should I vote if the outcome is already decided? Why should I raise my voice and articulate my thoughts if nobody is listening?

It is up to us to create a space where everyone can add their talents to the pot. Everyone must feel as though they have something to offer in order to feel empowered and valued. We need to create an 'economy' where we honor contributions of thought, emotion, and action that don't necessarily result in monetary compensation. It is useless to be part of a community if your voice doesn't count as much as everyone else's. The feeling of pride and self-worth that comes from knowing you have added some value - even if it was to offer food for thought - goes a long way toward encouraging individuals to continue contributing. Enough practice with this and the sky is the limit.

Continue to Part Five

4 comments:

Carrie Link said...

Good point!

I love that the girls made you guys dinner - wow!

Deb Shucka said...

I couldn't agree more. I think if people could understand that we all win when everyone is empowered instead of feeling threatened, there would be a lot more power to go around, and a lot more peace and love and joy.

Kathryn Grace said...

Everything you are saying rings true for me on a deep level. Your thoughts and verbiage are so similar to those expressed by many in the leadership of the Four Years.Go. initiative--the campaign to set the world on a course toward sustainability, fulfillment and justice by the close of 2014--that I am amazed and delighted with the synchronicity. It's such a tall order, to protect the world from devastating climate change, end poverty and human rights abuses worldwide, but to do nothing is to give up our power.

Your writing about the ways we can empower one another is one way of creating the changes we sorely need. Again, I give gratitude for your clear thinking and your voice.

Elizabeth said...

Beautiful post. When I'm feeling most cynical I look for coverage of those countries who've recently gotten the vote -- the Africans in South Africa, the Iraquis. Etc. There's nothing more moving than seeing that -- especially given all the privileges we have as Americans.

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