Last week I began a discussion of hierarchies, especially spiritual hierarchies. I found that where an emphasis on the emblems of hierarchy such as titles and ranks exist, one can always find the tendency towards power being collected into the hands of the few and away from the many.
Before delving more deeply into spiritual hierarchies, which I plan to do in the next column of this series, I would like to bow to worldly hierarchies, in recognition of the political race for leadership here in the USA which is currently rampaging across the television and other media, and focus on models of political structure.
In 1970, after Don Elkins and I had written the novel, The Crucifixion of Esmeralda Sweetwater: a Parable, we started working on another novel, which we called Deep Space. In it, the main characters were a mated pair who were part of a clan of those people interested in serving their country as statesmen. We posited that in the 21st century, the political structure of the United States had been thoroughly overhauled. No single person could run for offices such as President, Vice-President, Senator, Representative, Governor or Lieutenant Governor. Always, the candidates, whether marriage partners or career partners, ran as a team, one male and one female.
Our reason for creating this arrangement was that we felt it would bring forward the sacred feminine energy which is so notably missing from our current political environment. We also did away with the Electoral College and campaigning as it exists today in our unfinished novel. The challenge the two main characters faced in our novel was to create of our country and the world such balanced nation-states that the Confederation of Planets would accept us as members and thereby allow our astronauts to penetrate deep space.
The manuscript of this novel remains unfinished, as Elkins turned his attention to creating a screenplay from our first novel. After I wrote three different screenplays, none of which found a producer in Hollywood, Elkins and I decided to make a movie ourselves. We found a producer with an interest in making a film to be shown in drive-in movie theaters, which in the seventies were still quite popular in the south. We actually finished and distributed our film, a pure sexploitation film called The Girl Snatchers, in 1972.
In addition to writing the screenplay with Don, I created the sets, shooting schedule, make-up and special effects. And at the last minute I became an unlikely topless actress, when the incoming beauty got to town, read the script and promptly quit. “I am not a comedienne,” she stated on her way out the door. “I am a film star.” Why would a sex-and-violence film be considered a comedy? You who know Professor Elkins and me know that in our hands, such a script would end up being a send-up.
Making that film was an experience I will remember forever! And it still exists, in video-cassette form, as a cult classic of very minor hue, put out by a company called Le Bad Cinema. It is bad! But there is something fetching about it. I am proud of creating that movie.
After we had learned the business, Don and I again tried to make The Crucifixion of Esmerelda Sweetwater into a movie script, and had more success this time, as our script ended up, after being stolen from us, scalped of all possible truth and larded with nonsense, as the film, Hangar 18. Released in 1980, it starred Darren McGavin and Robert Vaughn. It flopped rather badly.
I allow myself this digression not only because it is a good story, but also because Don and I, as partners, were a good example of the efficacy of the concept of working in partnership. Had we been able to run for office as partners, I believe our candidacy would have been superior to that of any single person, male or female. We were more than the sum of our parts. Something better than we were alone was created whenever we got together to work on a goal or project.
While we do have a male-female candidacy in the McCain-Palin ticket, Ms Palin has no pretensions to being equal partners with McCain. Both she and those surrounding McCain see her as a blank slate, to be educated by wiser men than she. I find the concept terrifying and her choice by McCain cynical. There are women serving in governmental positions whose credentials are quite respectable and whose experience is substantial. However, the good old boys of the GOP would not know how to handle a woman whose opinions might be intractably different from their own. They are set on Empire dreams.
Probably the closest examples of the efficiency of partnership presidencies are the presidencies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Bill Clinton. In both cases, their wives, given full respect by their husbands, functioned as co-presidents. And they did a great job of it. In terms of official policy, however, 'partnership candidates' remains an idea whose time has not yet come. It is food for thought, however.
The political hierarchy of our country is ostensibly egalitarian. Any adult citizen can run for public office. However there is a behind-the-scenes hierarchy which some call the Old Boys Club. Generally speaking, a majority of this Club’s members come from European-American families whose family trees can be traced back to the British or other European aristocracy. Like all aristocratic families, the blood lines are salted now and then with wealthy citizens whose job it is to invigorate the line and bring needed money into the old families’ coffers. The sons of such marriages are considered members on probation and their sons’ sons are fully redeemed to be “old money”.
The Bush family is a good example of this. Bush’s ancestors include Thomas Mayhew, the founder of the first settlement on Martha’s Vineyard and Philip Sherman, one of the founders of Rhode Island. Barbara Bush is descended from the royal House of Lorraine. Being born into privilege, such people as George W. Bush are nursed along even if they are not very bright, so that they can continue wielding the family’s collected power.
John McCain is not a fortunate son, although his family is a distinguished military clan. His family tree includes those who immigrated to the United States in the mid-nineteenth century. His membership in the Old Boys Club is shaky. However his mind works like the Club members. Power is to be concentrated in the hands of the few - for the good of the masses, of course.
He, like Mr. Bush, fairly reeks of testosterone. Bush got to send our troops to Iraq. McCain is hoping to get to wage war on Iran. These two men are good examples of the true political hierarchy of our country.
If Mr. Obama wins the 2008 presidential election, he will be the first person in a long while whose power does not stem from the Old Boys Club. Therefore he has a chance, albeit a small one, of governing with a good balance between the yin and the yang, the female and the male, informing his choices and decisions. I personally hope he wins the day and has the opportunity to refrain from “business as usual” and ascend to statesmanship, as did Franklin Roosevelt. America hungers for him to do that.
To put this discussion of political hierarchies into perspective, I quote from Bill Plotkin. In his book, “Nature and the Human Soul”, he distinguishes between soulcentric and egocentric societies. On page 47 of that work, he writes,
“There are other notable classifications of culture that parallel my distinction between soulcentric and egocentric. Three that strongly resonate with the Great Turning are those of Joanna Macy, David Korten and Riane Eisler.
“Macy contrasts the industrial growth society with a life-sustaining society. Eisler differentiates cultures organized around the principle of domination from those organized around the principle of partnership. The dominator model glorifies “the lethal power of the blade” while the older, original partnership model reveres the chalice, “the life-generating and nurturing powers of the universe”. Korten refers to the former, hierarchically ordered societies as “Empire” and the latter, egalitarian and democratically ordered societies as “Earth Community”:
“The mentality of Empire embraces material excess for the ruling classes, honors the dominator power of death and violence, denies the feminine principle, and suppresses realization of the potentials of human maturity.
“The mentality of Earth Community embraces material sufficiency for everyone, honors the generative power of life and love, seeks a balance of feminine and masculine principles, and nurtures a realization of the mature potential of our human nature.”
I would suggest that we need to move from a culture modeled on the principle of domination to one built upon the principle of partnership.
There is endless rhetoric about what a culture which recognizes the divine feminine would be like. Usually the authors’ concept of a feminist culture looks a lot like the current male-dominant culture except that the leaders are women.
However I do not believe this to be the true case. I believe an authentic feminist culture would be one of inclusion and collaboration across all boundaries of race, creed, sex, age and color. I believe it would value and practice the art of communication. I believe it would create policy by means of persuasion and tact, finding compromises and solutions and eschewing the use of violence as the standard method of obtaining what was needed.
In an article titled “A Pagan View of Christian Creation”, found on the web site http://www.paganlibrary.com, an anonymous writer suggests that:
“Previous scientific analysis stereotyped the societies that worshipped a Mother Goddess as "matriarchal", in other words, where men were subservient to women. However, re-examination of the evidence shows that underlying the great diversity of human culture are really two basic models of society. The first is the "dominator", the ranking of one half of humanity over the other. The second, in which social relations are based on "linking" rather than ranking, is best described as a "partnership" model. In this model, differences between the sexes are not equated with either inferiority or superiority.”
“During the prehistory of our Western civilization, a cataclysmic turning point occurred when the direction of our cultural evolution was quite literally turned around. The progression of the societies that worshipped the life generating and nurturing powers of the universe was interrupted. From the peripheral areas of our globe came invaders who ushered in a very different form of organization for society. As the archaeologist Marija Gimbutas writes, these were people who worshipped "the lethal power of the blade" — the power to take rather than give life that is the ultimate power to establish and enforce domination.”
I got interested in this phrase in quotes, “the lethal power of the blade.” That led me to the work of Riane Eisler, who is quoted above. On the web site http://www.ru.org/71eisler.htm, I found these words, which echo well the opinions of both the anonymous “Christian Creation” author and me. Eisler says,
“When the first evidence of prehistoric societies where men did not dominate women began to be unearthed in the 19th century, the scholars of that day concluded that since they were not patriarchies they must have been matriarchies. But matriarchy is not the opposite of patriarchy: it is the other side of the coin of a dominator model of society. The real alternative to a patriarchal or male-dominant society is a very different way of organizing social relations. This is the partnership model, where, beginning with the most fundamental difference in our species between male and female, diversity is not equated with inferiority or superiority, dominating or being dominated.”
We need a different model of society and politics, in my opinion, and Eisler’s words suggest a direction in which to go. Our new paradigm of living needs to stand on utter equality, with respect for all humans regardless of their antecedents. This paradigm needs to begin with that wonderful child of true love and light, respect. It is easy to say, “Love one another.” To give that sentiment teeth, alter it to, “Respect one another.”
As Jesus said, the idea is to love our neighbors as we do ourselves. With love and respect, hierarchies vanish. Collaboration begins. And a new paradigm, the earth community, is born, a paradigm more fully human than any we have achieved so far.
I open my arms and embrace your spirit. May we use the power of our votes and the power of our minds and hearts to envision and enable the new paradigm of love and understanding among all of us upon this fragile island home of Earth.