Another in our on-going series of UFI at the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)
Attending and participating in this presentation required my finest acting skills. “Ecology and Feminism: Sacred Feminine, Circles and Valuing Girls and Trees” was the title of this “parallel event” and I just couldn’t resist! The attendees were a fine group of aging hardcore feminists, primarily middle-aged and older women who appeared to be from either from North America or Europe. My guess is that women from the developing world had more important things to go to and learn about; like legitimate ideas for economic development, clean water, meeting sanitation needs, quality health care, and getting their children educated.
“I saw the tree before I saw the house,” began the first presenter, “it spoke to me.” She expounded upon her efforts – which ultimately failed – to save the tree in her front yard. The tree fell under the control of the homeowner’s association and they wanted it removed. She spoke of her intense “battle” to save the tree including the hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars she spent in legal fees. “How could a tree simply be voted out of existence!” she lamented.
She spoke with passion about the “sense of the sacred, the connectedness in our consciousness between trees and ourselves,” of the “goddess in every women,” of the “sacredness coming through Mother Earth and women; a sacred dimension that is matter (mater, mother, matter).” Referring to trees she said, “we are all one; we are connected, what happens to one happens to all…”
Her time being up, she turned her comments to the critical nature of reproductive health rights and women’s rights and the need for true feminists to re-engage and make sure abortion remains legal, human population growth is slowed or better yet stopped completely, and that nature and trees takes their proper position in humanities’ priorities. “Respect for Mother Earth and life must prevail over all else.” My hand immediately went into the air. But it wasn’t Q&A time yet; my question would have to wait.
So here was where my acting skills (which are basically non-existent) came into play. We were divided into groups of five and tasked with responding to the question: “Think back through your life, perhaps into your childhood, and tell the group about your relationship with trees. How have trees impacted your life? Did you sit in them? Do they communicate with you? Tell us about your connection to them.” I survived this section of the presentation because I do enjoy trees; I have about 150 of them in my yard and I raised them all from seedlings. So I played along just fine.
Next, we had to get up, stand in a big circle, hold hands and chant a simple verse while one woman rang this little chime thing. BTW, the leader was called “the Circle Evangelist.” We had to each then use five words (just five) to say how we felt connected to one another- the power of women – and to nature. I REALLY struggled to not laugh at this point and then – you guessed it – we held hands, swaying back and forth as we sang some song about peace and love in the world through recognizing the “sacred feminine” in each one of us. Everyone was hugging and basking in the glow. All I could think was: “When is it question time!”
But we’d taken too much time; we had to vacate the room for the next presentation. So I never had the chance to ask them. So here it goes:
“You say that nature, trees, and achieving peace are all important. I agree; I love trees and nature. But I would add that all life is sacred and important. How can you advocate for the life and soul of a tree (which most would say is an inanimate object), and yet completely ignore the life of an unborn child and callously advocate for its brutal destruction? That seems pretty inconsistent to me.”
I’ll never know their response to my question. But I’ll bet “the circle evangelist” wouldn’t have invited me back.