Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Hope and Time; corollary to E=MC_2

Hope and Time

Hope is something all of us need, to be able to look forward to the future, in spite of our own inexorable path toward death.  I have been so lucky to be able to hold babies, which is the deepest and most organic way I know to get hope for the future.
The equation of Einstein's, which teaches us that there is mass and energy, and that they become equal when mass is moving at the speed of light, actually inherently tells us that there is such a thing as time, and it is measurable, and because of it, the universe is moving onward, and as they say, expanding.  So we do not just go over and over the same territory, and life is not static or circular.  There is process, and there is evolution.  Teilhard de Chardin spoke of God the creator as the alpha and the omega, both initiating the universe, and calling it home;  and Christ as the central turning point in history.  God grows green grass through the asphalt.  No one steps in the same river twice, everything is actually new,  and today is the first day of the rest of your life.  SO time is the river of history, and each of us in it is unique, with our own particular past, and our own unique path into the future.   The progress may be hard to see, from our vantage point, but it is there.  This is a huge difference from 200 years ago, when some people thought life was just going over the same ground, over and over.
     My life has been blessed, as I am in the vanguard of the women who got to train in and practice medicine.  We have actually made great strides,  in understanding both intelligence and healing love, not as a gender-limited thing.   We can understand what it means to be a healer, and a professional person, independent of one's gender.  I think a lot about the nuns, and the ordination of women.  I think about what Jesus said and did, and how long it has taken to undo the problems of patriarchy.  I am glad that when the Buddhist nuns told the Dalai Lama how hard it was for them to get the training, to become experts in their tradition, he cried.  They were kept down-- treated as cleaning women, and refused admission to the sessions for the enlightenment of the male monks, just as women in the West have been.   Everywhere on the earth, there has been a blossoming in this time;  although in some places quite modest, there is a recognition that women are fully human, not just beasts of burden, or "hysterical" animals whose only task is to carry pregnancy and nurture the young.
     We have been able to help hold the space, as more women come into medicine as the decades pass.  We can see that bringing ourselves to work, as sisters, friends, daughters, wives, mothers, helps us to connect with our patients emotionally, and to be better at nurturing and compassion, without losing the ability to be good diagnosticians and surgeons.  We can continue in our work as obstetricians and gynecologists, to help push for better and more maternal and infant care all over the globe, and we can try to push for better parenting, and better stewardship of the earth at the same time.  We can help our patients to only have as many children as they think they can raise well.  We can help them avoid having their children too close together, so they cannot recover physically from pregnancy.  We can try to help them not get pregnant before they are ready to be mothers, both physically and emotionally.  We can help get the children to grow up healthy, get more vaccines and better nutrition, partly through the working of public health care systems.  It is unlikely that we will sink back into patriarchal societies where half the population could not get educated or be able to give their talents to the needs of the society.  It is unlikely that women will continue to have to put up with abusive or alcoholic or violent spouses, just to be able to feed the children.
     When I was a child, there were a lot of stories which had to do with being "odd"-- such as the Ugly Duckling, and Goldilocks and the 3 Bears.  For those of us girls who got into medicine, and felt like Goldilocks, one might say that we are now able to sit in the right chair, and eat the porridge which is just the right temperature.  We do not have to hide in Bear clothing, or pretend to be something we aren't.   We are ok, being women in this place and time.
     One of the things we can see as a benefit is that gay people are more safe,  now that women are also in the field.  Couples can choose to love each other, and are not routinely being stoned to death.   Fathers are getting paternity leave, and men are able to give more love and attention to their children, as couples work cooperatively on family life, as well as economic security.  Many couples who might have been unable to have children in the past are getting medical help to make that possible, so that they can have healthy families.
   We are making headway against the laws which protected pedophiles from exposure, and we are making it more likely that  the true bogey-men get caught, and prosecuted.  The world is becoming safer for children-- less chance of incest and rape, less chance of under-age pregnancy, and less chance of abusive power over moms and children going unchecked.   Although it is not true everywhere, as more brave women fight for respect and healthy behaviors, all over the world the laws will become better at supporting individual rights.   We are working to reduce and end sex-trafficking, and prostitution.  We are also working to increase job security, better worksite safety, and job protections, including healthcare and benefits for retirement and disability.
Although the trade agreements go against this human rights advocacy, we are building an informed citizenry, and it is not so easy to do things in the dark, to destroy human rights, as in the past.  It is very likely that as we educate women, we will be able to help protect the environment, because women are raising children, and do not want toxic waste causing illness in our families.
     I remember the song in "My Fair Lady" which is sung by Professor Higgins--- "why can't a woman be more like a man?"--- in which he says "… their brains are filled with cotton,  hay and rags;"  which was something I really wondered at, when I was young.  I know now, that the problem was simply that women were not being educated.  When they ARE educated, they still make mistakes as often as men, but the sheer necessity of raising children makes most women really work hard to get the best answers for themselves and their families that they can.
     For this reason, I have tremendous hope, that we are moving into a much better future, where there will be even less abuse, less ignorance, less cruelty than now.  I have great hope that family planning is going to be as great a force as war, famine and plague, at keeping humanity's numbers to a more bearable presence on the earth.  I think we may actually become the good stewards we were intended to become!