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Voice Male - Spring 2003

A Different Kind of Regime Change

By Steven Botkin, MRC Executive Director

Editor's Note: This was published in early Spring 2003, just before the invasion of Iraq.

Once again we are perched on the brink of the unknown. So much feels out of our control. So many decisions are being made that seem irrational and dangerous, based on old strategies of retribution and revenge, fighting violence with violence, and seeking safety in domination.

The old model of male power through domination and violence seems to be in complete control. Bullying is once again being used in the name of self-defense. Self-righteousness blinds us to our growing isolation as we use intimidation and domination to try to get our way. Lost in the depths of our own fear we are unable to see anything but a dangerous world which we must subdue at all costs.

So we beat the drums of war. Because we feel an obligation to do something. Because we don't believe in anything else. Because it makes us feel stronger and safer. Because anything else feels too scary and uncertain. Because it is what our fathers did.

In the drumbeat of war we find a seductive comfort and inspiration. On its rhythms we are carried together into the fight against a common enemy. It is so much easier to see the bullying in others.

What do we do when we see someone acting like a bully? In so many ways we have learned to keep silent about bullying. On the street, in schools we learned that breaking the silence meant risking being the next target of the abuse. In our homes we have learned that what happens behind closed doors is nobody else's business.

However, in recent years we have increasingly recognized bullying and family violence as serious social problems. As a society we are developing bullying prevention education programs in schools and strategies for intervening in the life of families when individuals are at risk of being abused.

But what do we do when it is the ruler of a nation who is being a bully? Who will provide a prevention or intervention program that is not simply trying to be a bigger bully, trying to fight violence with violence? The drumbeat of war tricks us into thinking we could win a "war" on terrorism.

And what do we do when it is ourselves who are being the bully? From the inside we are simply "having fun" or "protecting ourselves" or "doing it for your own good" or "enacting justice." Those who suggest we are acting abusively are dismissed as over-sensitive, naïve or subversive, and we beat our drums even louder in our self-righteousness.

But there is another drum whose beat has been growing stronger. It is deep and slow and steady. This is the beat that guided Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. The beat reminds us of the power in our deep connection to everything and everyone. The beat reminds us that this power, this love force, is our true heritage and our inevitable destiny.

We are on the threshold of a regime change. It is only our short-sightedness and narrow-mindedness that makes it look as if this is simply about Saddam Hussein or a U.S. war against Iraq. Something much bigger is actually happening.

The limitations of the old models of masculinity and of power are becoming painfully obvious. Everywhere a new global consciousness struggles to find its expression in a way never before possible. The old world order is becoming more obviously ineffective and counterproductive.

Our biggest danger at this historical time is not from the bullying of Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein or George W. Bush. It is from our own tendency to get terrorized, leaving us vulnerable to being seduced by the war drums or entranced in our furious efforts to fight their beating.

It is time to firmly align ourselves with the other drumbeat. The beat that roots ourselves in our true power - the pulse of life. Rising up from the earth. Through the bodies and souls of the people of the world. We are beating the drums of peace and faith, the drums of love and the drums of true justice. This beat reminds us that something good is happening... even here, especially here--in this place of great hurt and tremendous fear. This beat will never be silenced. Can you hear it?

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