The World Will Be Saved By The Western Woman... Who First Has Saved Herself.

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Twelve years have passed since the Dalai Lama uttered the words “The world will be saved by the Western woman”.

As a university student bent on breaking the world right open, I rejoiced with these words.

“Yes!” I thought. We Western women can totally:

Collectivise our voting power,

Mobilise our buying power,

Stand up for what’s right and just,

And the world will inevitably, instantaneously  change.

I’ve spent those twelve years being angry and depressed about the static state of the world. Marching for everything. Volunteering on campaigns. Investing and divesting. Emailing every member of parliament, signing hundreds of petitions and raising funds and donating to campaigns.

I’ve reached “compassion fatigue” multiple times, and felt the guilt that goes with fatigue from feeling powerless, rather than being the people who in reality have life so much harder than me.

It’s taken me twelve years, but I now understand that the Dalai Lama’s quote, purposefully or otherwise, was left unfinished.

What he meant, as I now understand it, is this:

“The world will be saved by the Western woman who first has saved herself”.

Like many of the other white, straight, cis-gender, able-bodied, neurotypical, mentally ok-ish, middle-class women around me, I am privileged beyond the imagination of the vast majority of people on this planet.

Why do we still we feel downtrodden, powerless to make change?

The reason is we women (and I would argue especially those who are mothers) have been culturally indoctrinated to feel we are not enough. Try harder, work harder, do more, buy more, sacrifice yourself, and you will achieve “balance” in your life and therefore achieve “good enough” status.

So we are busied. Rushed. Harried. Depleted. Separated. Lonely. And what do you know? Life feels hard. So we try harder to just be good enough, and life feels harder.

From this mindset our nervous system is in survival mode, even though on the surface we have every resource to survive and thrive. We are in masculine, Miss Independent, productivity mode, the part of us that says “tick everything off the list and you will achieve the serenity of nothing-to-do-ness”.

This is the place where we tune out to the plight and positioning of people who have less privilege than us. We put our blinkers on. We bunker down and try to get through another day, try and find the certificate that proves we are good women, wives, mothers, daughters, patients, employees.

Herein lies the kicker – if we believe we are “good enough” and worthy, that noise stops. The to-do-to-be-good-enough list falls away and we achieve what it is we’ve been craving:

Silence.

No more pushing, hustling, jostling. We learn to be still, to be quiet.

And there, in that empty space of freedom, the feminine in us ignites.

She who is creative in her chaos rather than boxed in and proper.

She who connects deeply with others and earth and spirit.

She who values the wisdom in stories and sharing of lived experience above all other forms of learning.

She who sets fire to the “just the way things are” hierarchy and dances while it burns.

She who knows that others rising up does not constitute a threat to her own safety, but enhances it.

When Western women exit the “not enoughness” male-defined model of how to be a female human, we realise the microphone to amplify our voices and create the change we seek has been waiting at our feet.

In seeing through the façade of our perceived powerlessness, we can pick up that microphone. First, we use it to announce our arrival and intention. Then, we use it to its best advantage – by passing it over to those people who will actually lead the saving of the world.

These are the people who have been, and are, powerless by virtue of their marginalisation and personal and generational traumas.

They are the ones who have lived the experience we turn a blind eye to, and know exactly the steps that need to be taken to remedy it and by whom.

First Nations peoples.

People who identify as anything other than “cis-gender and straight”.

Survivors of sexual abuse and domestic violence.

Literally every person who is less privileged than me because they fall into any of the completely made-up categories that the current capitalist, male, ableist, white-supremacy, binary-loving, chin-up-you’ll-be-right society deems to be inherently “less than”.

So –

The world will be saved by the Western woman, who has first saved herself.

Who knows herself, and knows truth, and gives the mic and spotlight to the people who know what actually needs changing, and how to change it.

This vision does not constitute a pathway to utopia.

It does not dismiss or invalidate the traumas and grief and losses that “privileged” people experience as part of the human experience.

It does not lay a path that is straightforward and comfortable for those who, like me, are already comfortable.

From where I stand though, it’s the only way forward, and I’m absolutely up for it.

No one is going to come along and hand me “empowerment”, and I can’t “empower” another. What I can do is clear space for people to claim their own, by getting out of my own way, and theirs.

Absolutely, I will continue to vote.

Absolutely, I will buy ethically where I can.

Absolutely, I will sign petitions and march and keep learning and teach my children well.

I will do what needs to be done.

But also, I will stop.

I will remember to save myself from the “not enoughness” hamster wheel.

I will work to amplify the voices of the people who will lead the change we have been yearning for.

It took me twelve years to read between the lines, Mr. Dalai Lama, but I got there.

I am not broken.

I am already enough.

I finally believe it in my body, not just my words.

And with that, I have said my piece, and I am so ready to pass the microphone on.


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I am acutely aware of how Euro-centric my platform and podcast has been to this point. I have been (rightly) picked up on regarding lack of use of inclusive language for non-hetero couple families in some pieces. I’ve been shown how to make my content easier for people with vision impairment to access. It’s time to do the things - embody the allyship, not just tick boxes.

The vision board I made in January has the phrase “turn up the Colour” in the centre. I thought it meant the vibrancy of my life, but this, it turns out was the surface level interpretation only. Over the next few weeks I'll be starting my process of amplifying diverse voices through my podcast and other collaborations. You can subscribe to the "Motherhood Made Magic" podcast and follow along at @annacusackpostpartum to be part of these vibes with us.

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