Mama Bear Comes Out of Hibernation

BY THE TIME this reaches you, I will have already been to
Washington, D.C., to join the Women?s Vigil and Fast for Peace, the
first step toward gatherings all over the country and a march in
the capital for International Women?s Day, March 8. I have never
considered myself an activist, so it takes me somewhat by surprise
to find myself going to D.C. and committing to seven days of

What will my fasting actually accomplish? Probably not much on
the surface. I see this as time out of time, a chance to focus my
attention on what I really care about, and a preliminary test of
the lengths I?m willing to go to protect what I love. I, like most
everyone else I know, am all-too-easily caught up by everyday
details that distract me from confronting my complicity with our
country?s rampant exploitation of people, with the environmental
devastation wrought by our habits. I hope that by voluntarily
experiencing a taste of hunger and cold, I will find it harder to
avert my eyes from or close my heart to suffering, and I will
become more conscious of opportunities to speak up, to act, to

The vigil is being initiated by UnReasonable Women For the Earth
(, an organization inspired by
environmentalist Diane Wilson?s challenge to the 2001 Bioneers
Conference: ?A reasonable woman adapts to the world, an
UnReasonable woman makes the world adapt to her. What this world
needs is more UnReasonable Women!?

What that means to me is that all of us, male and female, need
to take a bold stance on behalf of traditionally feminine values
like compassion and collaboration, and to make a ferocious
commitment to the power of love.

At this year?s Bioneers Conference, co-producer Nina Simons (who
responded to Diane?s challenge by organizing the inaugural meeting
of UnReasonable Women for the Earth) quoted Elizabeth Sawen of the
Sustainability Institute in Hartland, Vermont. Sawen expresses the
awakening I sense in myself and in many people I talk with:

?I don?t think of myself as a fighter, but I can be fierce
in protecting the people I care about, especially my kids. The
fierce part of me is not very nimble or very articulate. It focuses
on hot stoves and sharp objects. It doesn?t know how to respond to
acid rain, or deforestation, or global war. It?s a mother bear that
lives in the basement of my soul, and when I let it upstairs for
some air we usually have a period of door-slamming and muttering
without much constructive action. Lately though, I think the mother
bear has been listening to the part of my mind that tries to
comprehend the whole world. If no place is safe until all places
are safe, then we need a worldwide blossoming of conservation
projects, women?s health initiatives, schools, nutrition projects,
and peace brigades. The mother bear has no words for any of this,
but I can feel a shift as she catches her first scent of a place to

?The sophisticated thinking side of me is sidetracked so
easily. Can we change the world? Is there enough time? These are
meaningless distractions to the mamma bear. What mother ever
stopped to ask ?can I get to the scissors in time?? Even when it
seems hopeless, even when the blades are millimeters away from
skin, you don?t ask questions, you just run, you just leap at the

?There are people who will beat at flames or claw at rocks
with their bare hands to save one child. We tend to call these
people heroes but that capacity is in all of us. There are also
people who insist that no child is safe until all children are
safe. We tend to call such people dreamers or saints, but we also
all have the capacity to see their point for ourselves. I don?t
think heroes are enough today and neither are dreamers. What we
need are whole people who have let their mother bear out of the
basement and made sure her full power is guided by the knowledge
that, like it or not, we?re all in this together. What we need are
people who will claw at rocks with their bare hands to save all the

It?s time to follow our hearts and our instincts, time to take
off our gloves.

p.s. For updates on the vigil and other anti-war activities,

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