No Future Without Sharing, No Future Without Cooperating

Posted on 07 December 2015

I walk into a conference about sharing and collaborating. Roughly half the audience is female, little ethnic diversity is represented here. We have seven speakers for the current session: five men, two women, and one of the women is Asian. The guest speaker from abroad is a white man. The day is organised by a group of men.

In another session we have open discussion groups on various subjects. Each person who volunteers an issue to be discussed is meant to moderate their suggestion. People are then free to choose in which groups they will participate. One group never gets to fully discuss its topic because one fellow is unhappy that a woman is leading and hijacks the group, derailing open discussion.

One point I tried to make is that many of us who are working toward a new more environmental future are black sheep. We have had to think things through on our own and make decisions that put us outside of the main herd. We know how to think for ourselves, but we may not have a complete set of social skills and may be underskilled for cooperating. We need courses in empathy and shared action. One fellow came up to me with a graphic he had on his computer and told me that after three-years-old people become incapable of learning empathy or cooperation. I tried to mention a successful prison program to help criminals learn emotional control run by the Quakers, but he kept talking over me.

Most of the women want to work with the men. A number of the men feel the need to sideline the women to make sure their ideas are the ones that are heard. To be called out on this causes a number more of the men to get defensive. A few men are brave enough to side with the women, but they look just as scared as the women when standing up to the dominators.

A day that was meant to bring about collaboration seems to have further entrenched divisions. Another fellow mentioned to me that he was once a Marxist. I replied mentioning that I was once an Australian Democrat and used to help write some of their policy. He said, “It’s a shame their policies were crap. I’m a Green.”

This was one of the most disappointing supposedly progressive meetings I have ever been to. My immediate family are right-wing and I’ve stood in a room of arch-conservatives and this room didn’t feel much different. In fact with the right-wing group I would have had a few men protecting me in order to seem chivalrous. Here the women were abandoned to the wolves.

People were wondering why cooperatives and change groups kept themselves separate. This room was a good example of why. If you don’t include women, non-white ethnics, people of different ages and abilities, plus more, if you don’t share power with them, if you don’t cooperate with them, if you don’t respect and promote their ideas and their leadership, then you are still part of the old paradigm which is tearing the Earth to shreds. What you are doing is tracking down the new niche market in order to establish dominance, and the need for dominance is what’s destroying us.

So what’s the answer? How do we create people of goodwill?

In peace, friendship, and kindness,

Katherine


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