Often, when my husband looks at me and says “You are beautiful”, my inner critic immediately places conditions on that observation by telling me that he is seeing me through the filter of his love for me. Rarely do I feel validated because my deepest fear, cultivated by years of being exposed to cultural messages and familial fractures that tell me otherwise, is that I am not beautiful, physically or otherwise.
I am nearing 50 years on this planet and it hasn’t been until the last couple of years that I have had the courage to ask myself in these situations “Who says?” What gives any group that is in a position of power in a culture or society the right to define or create truths that must be internalized and accepted by everyone? Whether it is a matter of spirituality, physical beauty or intellect, each individual has the right to determine what is true for them…and the right to declare truths that are life-affirming and self-loving.
Self-loving does not, and never did, mean believing that one person is better than another. Self-loving thoughts, words and actions are those that express a deep acceptance of the entirety of who one is and a belief that one is a valuable human being, deserving of unconditional love.
Unconditional love allows us to be who we are; however, it does not condone thoughts, words or deeds that are harmful to others. I.E., unconditional love acknowledges that each and every one of us has the right to be self-determining individuals and, by being so, that we also accept responsibility for our innate power and the things we think, speak and do…and making choices that are not harmful to ourselves or others.
This doesn’t mean that our choices will always be well received by others. Sometimes what is right for one person is not right for another. This delicate balance can be honoured if each of us understands that living a life that is true to us does not automatically give us the right to assume it is right for another nor to impose our truths on others. This also doesn’t mean that what is true for us is not shared by others…this is how families, tribes, communities and cultures are created and can co-exist…when they have shared values and ethics.
And lastly (at least for the moment), although each individual, community, and culture has the right to live their truths, when their truths are harmful to others, then each and every one of us has the right to expose those harming beliefs, words and deeds for what they are - purposeful means of controlling or manipulating a vulnerable individual or group of individuals so that the dominant group can maintain its position of power.
On Feb 14th, women and men are being called to action in a global happening called “One Billion Rising”. Through the expressive and compelling act of dancing and authentic and heart-felt movement, all of us are being given an opportunity to ask “Who says that violence against any vulnerable being is okay?” We’re being called to express that violence against any vulnerable being (women, children, animals, the planet) is not only NOT OKAY but that it will NO LONGER BE TOLERATED. We are being called to take a stand, rise up, and speak our truth.
In a world that for thousands of years has socialized us to believe that violence is ‘normal’ and that it is the default setting for humans, this will be received in a variety of ways: agreement, denial, or resistance. We are being called to point to the elephant in the room or reveal the man behind the curtain and say NO MORE. Let us join our voices, our bodies, our souls to create a reality and a world where all beings have the right to be safe, respected and unconditionally loved…where violence against vulnerable beings is an aberration and not the culturally, socialized norm.
You can locate a One Billion Rising event in your locale by visiting the following website: www.onebillionrising.org and dance like you’ve never danced before!