Eileen Fisher’s Women Together logo

Today I will host a ‘Women Together: Connect,’ a one hour online conversation, sponsored by the Eileen Fisher Foundation, open to all who identify with the term. Over the last few years, these hybrid (in person and online) events have been a place for women to use practices and small group dialogue to connect more deeply with one another and themselves. Over the last few months, and even more clearly in the last few weeks, connection has gone from a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘need to have.’

The moment we are in is everything we were born for (as we discussed in the Presencing Institute’s GAIA Journey, a movement of 13,000 global change-makers). Every moment in our lives has taught us what we need in order to meet this moment now, no matter how unprepared we feel. In addition to being born for this moment, we are also able to use each moment and each encounter as our teacher. We have an opportunity to be in a constant state of learning and growth. Taking advantage of this opportunity requires us to stay more OPEN than we may have thought we could ever be. It is not a time to hold on to old beliefs or thought processes. It is not the time to be right. It is a time to let go of what we thought we knew, to unlearn, and to stay with, what my teacher and friend Otto Scharmer calls, the emerging future.

Over the last few days and weeks, there have been a few examples of why this is so necessary. While we had a #metoo movement that swept the world, we were exposing a societal ill while pointing a finger and blaming people one at a time. Their actions were reprehensible and they need to take responsibility AND, we all need to take responsibility and hold ourselves to account. Our systemic issues will not be solved by one person being put in jail. Just as they will not be solved by one person at the top saying the right things.

The moment we are in requires us to take a hard look in the mirror and question our values. Not because one thing is bad or good but because we need to face reality and our part in it. Regardless of whether or not it has been intentional: How have I (and my family) profited off of black (and brown) life? How have I kept women (myself and others) from reaching their fullest potential? How am I PART of the system? Another teacher and friend, Dayna Cunningham, reminds us that systemic violence is a set of human agreements. It is time to question those agreements. It is no longer an option to be passively sliding along. What would resetting our agreements with each other look like?

I promised examples:

  • COVID has required local governments to step up in areas of public health, safety and economy. Even in places where local government has stepped up, we are still having to inform ourselves and make extremely conscious choices about how we interact and get our needs met. Not doing so could have fatal consequences. Examples include gatherings of any size — do you wear a mask, do you stay 6 ft apart, do you hug, do you shake hands? All of our minute ways of interacting are changing and some on a daily basis. In any interaction, we actually need to make sure — we need to get CONSENT from each other.
  • George Floyd calling out “I can’t breathe.” The fact that 70 Black people who have been killed at the hands of police have said this statement — it has become a statement that asks of us, what is justice? At whose hands is someone allowed to die? Together, we question the fabric of our society.
  • George Floyd calling out “mama” in his final moments. Each of us has a mother. In this last few days, thousands of mothers have created ‘Wall of Moms’ to protect protestors across the nation. Their reasoning? “We’re trying to protect everyone’s kids as if they were our own” — Savanna Taylor, Wall of Moms
NY Times: Wall of Moms members attended a protest against police brutality in Aurora, Colo., on Saturday. Credit: Kevin Mohatt/Reuters
  • And last, but most certainly not least, AOC on the house floor, speaking up for women everywhere. For many of us, hearing the term “fucking bitch” uttered from the mouth of a frustrated man as he walks away is nothing new at all. Having a representative on the floor of Congress speaking to it dignity, decency and calling out the culture, well, that’s brand new to me!
NY Times: In a speech on the House floor, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, addressed the remarks made by Representative Ted Yoho, Republican of Florida. Credit: House Television, via Associated Press

What is required of us now is to step up, beyond what we thought was needed of us. We, particularly women (of all races and aspects of the gender spectrum) are required to come forward together. For too long, we have fought for our right to a piece of the pie or a seat at the table. What if we look at the table and realize it’s all wrong and the room needs redecorating? It’s time to bring our leadership, our voices, our long term thinking, our ability to collaborate. I don’t care what we call it (feminine, feminist, etc etc) There are pieces missing in this societal fabric and it’s time we come together, lift ourselves and one another up and care enough to create the world we need.

Executive Director, Eileen Fisher Leadership Institute. Host/Co-Producer, Women Together. antoinetteklatzky.com

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