First of all, on International Women’s Day, a salute to all the magnificent women receiving this email. I value your friendship as essential to the completeness of my own humanity.
As the father of two daughters, how can I not be concerned for and committed to the safety and well-being of women? The news already this morning, on this IWD, carried information about assaults on women both in India and in Vancouver. I grieve as I write this for the women, men and children caught up in conflict situations, in the Middle East, Ukraine, Nigeria and elsewhere. On “this fragile earth, our island home,” we will not be able to call ourselves civilized until men and women live in loving mutuality.
This is not simply a matter of men respecting women or women standing up or themselves, although this is certainly the case. It also requires that men love and understand themselves as men, and that women do the same. There is a mighty work to be done in our time, particularly with boys, in making it clear to them as they grow that women are (from my own spiritual point of view) sacred beings, as indeed are men. We insult the Divine when we insult each other as human beings. This is particularly clear in Hinduism, which teaches that Brahman, the essential being of the universe, and Atman, the individual soul, are, to use an old word, consubstantial: as traditional Hindus will say, “Atman is Brahman.”
So other-respect requires self-respect; and as we grow in the one, we grow in the other. IWD comes every year to offer us the opportunity to reflect on how this is happening for us, and to re-commit ourselves to the well-being of self and other.