February 2018 Board Message

We live in a time of confusion and contradiction. We live in an age when we are bombarded with calls to respect a specific group of people or a cause. There are public campaigns to respect women, to respect people of different races or ethnicities, to have respect for our environment and respect for human and animal life in general. And yet, it is hard to remember a time in our recent history when there has been so little respect for each other.

How is this possible for this outcry for more respect to not be reflected in the day to day behavior of so many? I believe that there is a key principle missing in these campaigns and in our current society in general. That principle is contained within our Big Ocean Women tenet: We are EACH UNIQUE and worthy of respect.

These campaigns are all about creating movements where like-minded people join to promote a cause. This can be inspiring provided that the individual is not forgotten as the movement sweeps up the masses. Changes at a group level can’t really be sustained until we make the needed changes within ourselves. The healthier our self-respect and our belief in our unique contribution to our families and to our societies, the more successful we will become in combining our forces to deal with society’s ills.

In the past few months we have seen the growth of the #metoo campaign. It is a wonderful time for women who have been the victims of abuse to speak out and to seek justice for the wrongs done against them. However, there is real potential for this movement to backfire on us as women. It is a paradox that we can claim our power in declaring #metoo and yet remain in victim mode. Many of the current movements in society don’t start from the position of self-respect and respect for others. They come from either a victim mentality or from a position of anger.

As a #metoo participant I was deeply grateful that I was able to share my story after having come to be at peace with myself, after having forgiven the men involved. When we as women vilify men, then we disrespect ourselves because we have handed over our personal power to them. It is a paradox that as we respect both women and men that we truly free ourselves as women.

So how do we speak out against wrongs in our communities from a position of power and self-respect and not as victims?

  1. We acknowledge that the only person that I can change is myself. Everything begins with self-respect.
  2. We can make judgements about the behaviors of others, but refrain from making judgements about the individuals themselves.
  3. We can have a fundamental belief that because we are all of divine origin on our mortal journeys, that we each have the capability to grow in wisdom and knowledge. If this is true, then we will not hold grudges, we will not exclude anyone or any group.
  4. As we heal ourselves and our communities from wrongs we have experienced, we can allow others the same privilege to heal themselves. We can treat them with respect by not judging them for the speed at which they go about this.

In Big Ocean Women, we believe in changing society one person at a time. It is by bringing together individually empowered women that we will truly have impact on our society.

~Marianne Downing