Today we elect our next president and while most of us will go back to our normal existences on Wednesday, Marianne Williamson’s work in politics will begin anew. The weekend of November 10–11, Ms. Williamson will host Sister Giant: Women, Nonviolence and Birthing a New American Politics. Sister Giant will encourage the experience of womanhood, motherhood, and a female form of creativity to begin influencing our political process.
Currently women are 51 percent of the U.S. population but only 17 percent of the U.S. Congress. “With the passing of Citizen’s United, the Supreme Court opened up our political elections to be more like auctions for the highest bidder,” says Ms. Williamson. The challenge is that our most vulnerable citizens, women and children, often don’t have resources to purchase a politician these days. In order to change our nation, Ms. Williamson says “It is time American women to begin holding up their part of the sky”. It is time, according to Williamson, that women confront their insecurities and emotional resistance to running for public office. Although it is true that politics is a harsh (if not downright toxic) environment, women can no longer stand on the sidelines believing that our issues will taken care by those we send to Washington DC.
Although there are many issues confronting women in our nation, the Sister Giant Conference will focus on three major concerns: child poverty, mass incarceration, and the Citizen’s United decision. Today the United States has a 23.1 percent rate of child poverty—among developed countries we rank second, behind only Romania. Currently the United States incarcerates more people than any other nation in the world and any other in history. And finally, with the Citizen’s United ruling the Supreme Court opened the floodgates for corporations to wield unlimited financial power in our presidential elections.
I was fortunate to get to speak with Ms. Williamson recently, and I started our discussion by telling her about what has inspired my recent political interest and activism. As a single mother of a child with special needs, I see firsthand how our nation skirts around issues that mothers face each and every day. From the moment they become mothers, many women have to make the heartrending choice to return to work before they feel ready. With only twelve weeks of maternity leave (frequently unpaid) required by most states, their economic needs compete with their desire and need to bond with their infants. Other developed nations require as much as one year of paid maternity leave to new parents. Making sure that our children are cared for—ensuring that their parents can spend time with them as infants, that their essential physical needs are being met, that they have access to a quality education—directly impacts the high rates of incarceration we currently experience in our nation.
Initially I asked Ms. Williamson for an interview because I admire her work to bring spiritually minded, compassionate, and peace-seeking people into the political conversation. She seems to really grasp why it is so important that those of us who strive to create loving, compassion-driven lives are needed now. I asked her how mothers can be a part of the change she’s promoting. She urged mothers to join her efforts and to start actively protecting the welfare of their children and all children. “A common anthropological characteristic of every advanced species that survives and thrives is fierce behavior on the part of the adult female when she senses a threat to her cub—the momma bear, the lioness, the tigress, they grow fierce when they sense threat to the cubs. The adult female hyenas encircle their cubs as they eat, not allowing any males to come near. Surely the women of American can do better than hyenas,” she said.
The Women’s Campaign School at Yale is partner in the program. The event is available via livestream for out-of-state participation. Go to http://sistergiant.com for more information.