(Okay I confess: I just thought this was pretty!)
So.. women. The truth is I don't know what to say today. I've said some things before (here and here and here and here and here, etc...) and there is a lot more to say too, of course.
I think what I really want to say is just that I love women. And I am so grateful for the way I have been influenced and inspired and encouraged by women in my life. My mom and sister and grandmas; my friends; leaders and authors and activists and teachers and mothers and mentors. They are all amazing in their own unique ways, and I am a better person for the women who have touched my life.
But there are a lot of problems that face women. And it can be overwhelming and depressing to think about. It can be stressful and confusing. Yet, women are strong. Women are not just victims and minorities in power positions and the underdog struggling against all odds. Women are changing the odds and making their own odds. They are creating new stories and finding new ways of interacting in the world. I am inspired by women (and men too). Sometimes by those close to me--because I know them and what they struggle with and how they overcome and how they take the world and the life they were given and then rise to every occasion to be brave and bright and to make individual choices, even incredibly hard ones, that they know to be right. And sometimes I am inspired by women I will never know--ones who do impossible things and who ignore the rules that would suppress them and say beautiful words and make beautiful things and wondrously defy those who would negate their power or try to push them down or tell them who to be.
The world is changing. And it is a very good thing. Still, there are a lot of scary things facing us in the future. There is a lot of uncertainty. And there are countless problems to be grappled with and to overcome. For both women and men. We've come to a place where I think we are going to find we will fail if we don't stop putting up barriers and limiting people's potential because of their gender--or their race or background or even their apparent weaknesses. I am very ready for the day when we can stop talking about women's issues and women's rights. I am waiting for humankind to unite as we're meant to be united and for all of us to love and respect and support each other because we are all part of the same family; because we are all born into the same world and fighting the same problems; because each person deserves to be treated like a person, no matter what. But unfortunately we have a long ways to go.
The problems facing women are many. And they are linked to and exasperated by many other issues facing the world today. We can't change one thing without affecting the rest. That much is clear. So what do we do? What are the solutions? Where do women stand and what steps should we take? Well really, who knows?
But one thing is for sure: women have power. Even if it is only within themselves. Even if there are people and societies and pressures that try to suppress it. The power is there, and if you know women, you must have seen it. And this world will be a better place as each woman (and, yes, men too!) takes responsibility for her own power; harnesses it; directs it to those things that are important to her; looks beyond her immediate surroundings and does whatever she knows how to do, and maybe some things she doesn't know how to do, to influence some piece of this world for good.
It's that simple. And it's that hard.
It isn't easy to know where your power lies or how to use it or where your influence might best be felt and leveraged. But I think it is possible. And it is in this potential that I put my hope! Because power is already there within each of us, we just have to find--or better yet, create--the opportunities to make the most of it!
Happy International Women's Day. I believe in you!
(and I am trying to believe in me too)