The Peacebuilding Podcast : From Conflict To Common Ground

Ep 48: Rabia Roberts - Herstory, Part B

January 28, 2021

Dear Podcast Friends,

Happy 2021!

We came so close in the United States of America.

We came right up to the edge, looking into a very deep and bleak abyss. 

But we didn’t fall in, we pulled ourselves back, and democracy – at least to the extent we have realized it --  has prevailed. I, along with so many of my fellow citizens, am thrilled.

I have not generally been a person to wave the flag of the U.S. and tout our exceptionalism, though I love my country like I love my family.

I was one of those kids that resisted saying the Pledge of Allegiance as early as 14 because I was already very aware of what my country was doing in Southeast Asia. Fast forward to this podcast, I am all too aware that the U.S. spends more on our military than the next 10 countries combined, and uses our military might to dominate the world in very much the same way the wealthy have used our police to dominate poor black neighborhoods to keep assets pouring into the hands of a small, mostly white, male few of Wall Streeter types  – some of them my family members.

But today I feel more patriotic and proud of my country than ever before.

It feels like we have just gone through a hazing, a reckoning and perhaps Donald Trump has done us a favor to wake us up. Like the saying goes – it takes a lot of pounding to create a good bar of steel.

I read a book a long while back called the People of the Lie by M. Scott Peck, the same guy who wrote The Road Less Traveled if you remember it. The premise of the book is that lies are the core of human evil. 

Seeing ourselves clearly -- as a person, as a country, as a world -- is the beginning of healing and real positive change. As we say in the gestalt world -- awareness works: It’s a paradox that change happens most quickly when we can by see the fullness of 'what is' in the present moment.

A few weeks back, when the run-off elections in the State of Georgia tipped the balance in the U.S. Senate to a Democratic majority I tweeted:

I am so deeply moved by what has just happened in Georgia. Thank you Stacy Abrams. Change Georgia, change the country, change the world. 

And “bing” -- I immediately got a like from a young woman in Asia who is an activist for democracy in her own country. 

I love how connected we are, and how movements for justice and democracy inspire each other around the world. 

After living with the Trump administration for the last four year that used bullying and the fantasy of a lost, white, Christian and patriarchal America, it was so super moving to  see, in the words of one of my friends

“A glorious display of inclusivity including all the raw feminine power. . .  -- How bright & radiant”

and knowing that that was brought about, in part, by the activism of so many of us, of which I am proud to be a part.  One turning point was on January 21, 2017, when women, with our pussy hats on, marched on Washington in the largest single-day protest in American history that dwarfed Trump’s inauguration numbers of the previous day.  

So, I am feeling optimistic, but there is so much to do and the climate clock is ticking 

The contribution I have chosen to make toward a deeper democracy is focusing on empowering women by building our negotiation capacity, and showcasing through the podcast some cool content about interventions to build common ground in complex systems. 

One CAN bring very polarized groups, even warring factions, together to build common ground.

I have done it.

I have seen it.

But so many of our world governments, including my own, are still so steeped in win-lose, adversarial, “power-struggle” methodologies, egged on by a media that leads with what bleeds. Making better use of the collaborative – and yes, more feminine – processes we know work would help us become less polarized, and more creative and relational. Humans are very capable of dealing with complexity and problem solving if given the right process “containers”. 

Power over v power with. . .

Win-lose, win-win. . .

Both of these have big gender implications.

On the podcast front, I’ve been frustrated with how slow I am to get episodes out. There are so many I would like to do, so many cool people to interview – but like so many solo “socialpreneurs” like myself, there is the issue of bandwidth and making a living.

This fall, I put together a six-week, virtual course called Women, Negotiation & Power which was thrilling. I will launch an even better version of that course in March so stay tuned, please enroll, or send people my way. Check out this testimonial video here

I am also super excited by my growing audience of women whose stories and struggles I am hearing either through my online courses, or individual or group coaching. So thank you.  I am here to serve you and make the best content I can for women around negotiation, and for this podcast. 

Getting gender right is delicate -- just like democracy. 

Patriarchy tends to cut humans in half and say that men can be this way, and women can be that. What is happening is people are becoming more fully human, and being allowed to develop themselves fully, not just according to gender roles, or reconnect, for example, to what it means be a woman and not have the divinity in that taken out in any way. This is exciting, and this will create a more peaceful world.

As Carol Gilligan so aptly said feminism is the movement to free democracy from patriarchy

We have a lot of work to do because honestly the model of so many things is still fundamentally the man, supported by the woman. 

It’s gonna be weird, but it’s gonna happen in the U.S. soon enough, that a woman becomes our next president with or without an intimate partner standing beside her.

It's gonna feel uncomfortable and probably unnatural to many because it is uncharted territory in the U.S. though so many other countries around the world are leading the way.

So how did we get to this moment in time, to all those colorful flags and empowered women and people on the Capital steps of the U.S., a young black woman, a descendant of slaves, delivering the inaugural poem and declaring her unabashed desire to be President of the U.S. someday?

I think it has come from untangling narratives that are untrue.

For me, that has defined so much of the work I have done to grow as a human. 

Seeing ourselves clearly v. the stories we have made up, 

Discovering truth v. lies or fictions like

  • the election was stolen from Donald Trump
  • women came from the rib of Adam, that
  • my brother was more valuable than I was from the moment of birth.

These are all untruths, but powerful narratives that have big consequences.

So in part B of Herstory, Rabia continues to unpack our human history, herstory, from the perspective of women.

Read the full blog here.

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