Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A few thoughts

The NOW conference has ended, delegates elected a new slate of officers, and now the healing begins. That might seem like an odd thing to say considering NOW is a feminist organization, but sometimes organizations don't always practice what they preach.

There were at least two people at the conference who bring a unique perspective to "the morning after" -- and I'm one of them. Twenty-one years ago when I joined NOW I was part of the "majority caucus." Caucus members were national officers, regional board members, and state and chapter presidents in many states. In other words, we were the power structure.

I remember seeing people at a national conference literally brought to tears because they dared to challenge the powers structure. Being part of that structure, I couldn't truly understand why they were so upset. Slowly I learned.

There is a culture in NOW that says 'if you are not with me, then you are my enemy -- and I can't just defeat you, I must destroy you.' That destruction often includes the persons very lively hood.

There are people today who have for decades now been "insiders" who now are feeling a little lost. As an organization one thing I think we have not taught our members is how to graciously accept defeat and move on. Hell, some have not learned how to graciously accept victory!

One reason I think there might be hope for change is that some of the members of the newly elected leadership have now been on both sides.

Once you've been an outsider it's easier to understand what your opponents are feeling. And hopefully, with the wounds of being an outsider still so fresh maybe it will make them less inclined to want to inflict that pain on others. I'm beginning to see that already.

To any of my NOW friends who might be reading this I just want to say: "There were no good people and bad people in this election -- there were simply people who on any given day can fall into either one of those camps." I know this because I have personally been the target of some very bad behavior from both sides.

My response has been to continue staying involved, to try and change the culture.

I hope the anger that some are feeling will begin to subside, and they, too, will work with me to change the culture within NOW. There is still far too much work to do to expend any time trying to destroy each other.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

I won't comment on the internal workings since I don't know anything about them, but I will tell you that I have always been impressed by your dedication to the cause of equality.