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(DV) Marshall: Thank You Alice -- A Meditation for the Winter Solstice







Thank You Alice: A Meditation for the Winter Solstice
by Lucinda Marshall
December 15, 2006

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In the dark days of approaching winter here in the Northern Hemisphere, Alice Walker's new book, We Are The Ones We Have Been Waiting For: Inner Light In A Time Of Darkness, offers an inspiring path of peaceful courage. In this short but eminently wise volume, Walker talks about many things, including a tribe, the Swa, where it is the job of women to say stop when behavior and actions are in damaging excess. As Walker eloquently states, in our own society and time, now is the time not only for women to say stop, but also for men to listen. She shares a statement from the Elders of the Hopi Nation that ends with these lines,


"All that you do now must be done in a sacred manner

 And in celebration.

 'We are the ones we have been waiting for...'"


The last line, also the title of Walker's book, is from June Jordan's Jordan's "Poem for South African Women". Toward the end of the book, Walker offers this,


"I believe it is a time of great awakening, and that this awakening is global, hence the race by patriarchal powers worldwide to suppress and subjugate women, who, awake, are notorious for seeing why things are going wrong, and saying so."


In recent days, there have been numerous reports that bear out the truth of Walker’s words.  Both Dahr Jamail and Yanar Mohammed have described the horrific violence that is being committed against women in Iraq, including rape, kidnappings and beheadings, the former two sometimes at the hands of American troops. 


Women within the ranks of the U.S. Military are also being victimized with impunity. Army Spc. Suzanne Swift, who went AWOL because she had been sexually assaulted by soldiers in her unit, recently pled guilty to  avoid being court-martialed.  The military only substantiated one of her allegations of sexual assault and the soldier in question was let off with only a reprimand and  re-assigned to another unit.


In another case involving U.S. military personnel in the Philippines, three out of four U.S. soldiers who had been charged with  raping a Filipino woman were recently acquitted.  Clearly, violence against women in the name of militarism is still a de-facto weapon of war.


And what of the voices of women who speak out?  Walker cites Julia Butterfly Hill, Amy Goodman and Rep. Barbara Lee as examples of women who are speaking out against the madness. Of course there are so many more, Cindy Sheehan, Diane Wilson, Medea Benjamin, Cynthia McKinney and grandmothers who risk arrest because it has become so urgent that we stop the carnage that is being perpetrated throughout the world. 


As Medea Benjamin reports, the U.S. government just spent thousands of dollars to arrest and prosecute four women for the dangerous crime of wearing pink, singing and trying to deliver petitions to the U.N.  At the same time, we continue to sell arms to just about anyone and nuclear weapons to our closest friends so that later we may accuse them of being a nuclear threat when they are not our friends while leaving cluster bombs for those we don’t like. And of course there are the many, many more women around the world speaking out in other countries, frequently at the risk of great personal danger.


May Chidiak, a Lebanese reporter who lost a hand and a leg in a car bomb attack put it this way in her acceptance speech when she received the International Women’s Media Foundation’s 2006 Courage Award,


“I was chosen to be the pioneer of women in Lebanese political assassination attempts. Maybe just to add some décor around the pictures of the dead and living martyrs, or maybe they just believed that a woman in a patriarchal society is starting to have too much of an influence on the people and needed to be quieted.”


Sadly, Ms. Chidiak is probably entirely correct.


The Christmas legend talks about three wise men.  But in our own time, and in the times that came before, there have been and are many, many wise women. This year, in the darkness of the Winter Solstice, let us resolve not only to listen to the wisdom of these  women but to have the courage and strength to raise our own voices, to say that it is time to stop the damaging, time to heal the wounds and affirm what is truly sacred, the lives of all and the earth on which we live.


Lucinda Marshall is a feminist artist, writer and activist. She is the Founder of the Feminist Peace Network, www.feministpeacenetwork.org. Her work has been published in numerous publications in the U.S. and abroad including, Counterpunch, Alternet, Dissident Voice, Off Our Backs, The Progressive, Countercurrents, Z Magazine , Common Dreams, In These Times and Information Clearinghouse. She blogs at WIMN Online and Sheroes.

Other Articles by Lucinda Marshall

* What She Wore
* War Chic
* The Courage to Say the “I” Word
* Eve on Election: Women’s Electoral Wisdom
* Child Abuse: As American as Apple Pie
* Is Betty Ugly?
* Foley is a Red Herring
* What Women are Saying About the Violence in the Middle East
* Women’s Equality Day: In Praise of Radical Women
* Penis Politics
* Involuntary Motherhood
* Kathleen Parker’s Duke Rants Miss the Point
* What Mothers Really Want
* The Harm that Occurs When Women are Under- and Mis-Represented
* Ending Terrorism Against Women Begins at Home: The Urgent Need To Fully Fund VAWA
* President Bush’s Ken-Doll Performance an Insult to Women
* How Hot Does it Have to Get?
* 30,000 Iraqis, More or Less
* We're Melting
* The Turning Point
* Geena in 2008
* Before There Are 2,000 More
* The Booby Trap: Does Breast Cancer Awareness Save Lives? A Call to Re-think the Pink
* Were Women Raped in New Orleans?
* Why I Do Not Support The Troops
* The Democratic Unravelling
* Child for Sale: The Corporate Takeover of Our Classrooms
* The Dead Children's Society
* Media Exclusion of Women as Sources Impedes Meaningful Reform
* Military Pollution: The Quintessential Universal Soldier
* Honoring the Lives of Women in Perilous Times
* Why We are Horrified by the Destructive Forces of Nature but Accept Our Own Violence
* The Financial Immorality of American Generosity
* The Surreality Show: Stranger than Fiction
* (Not) In The News: Media Culpability in the Continuum of Violence Against Women

* Yanar Mohammed on the Impact of the US Occupation on the Lives of Iraqi Women
* The Misogynist Undercurrents of Abu Ghraib