Gentling the world

To the Editor:

Part of my optimism for the future of our species is the evolutionary trend toward confident women and gentle men. I believe that strong women tend to select gentle men as their life partners, perhaps because they are attracted by the honesty and goodness of men who are not pretending to be something they really are not.

With confident women and gentle men as parents, children are raised in families where power-sharing is natural and both men and women are empowered and encouraged. Without pressure to be “macho,” the sons of these marriages are comfortable with their gentle hearts and the daughters grow up believing they can do anything. Productive collaboration replaces destructive individualism.

Nobody wants to be bullied, and bullies are not happy. People who are comfortable in their own skin have no need to be domineering. They thrive on connections with other people and are open to the life-giving, creative energy of this universe.

Both men and women are susceptible to the corrupting nature of power. Maybe, because of history, women are better able to recognize the many ways power can be abused. Our institutions are helping us recognize and stop abuses of power wherever they occur. Whistleblowers are heroic when they expose repression, and justice is served when wrongdoing is shared via a free press and internet.

Through education in many parts of the world, both men and women are developing their gifts and talents for the betterment of society, but too many people are still trapped in rigidly hierarchical systems.

A young woman was jogging in a large city. Distracted, she found herself in a part of town she knew was not safe, and, sure enough, as she slowed to a walk, she heard heavy footsteps behind her. Taking a deep breath, she turned around and spoke to the big, tough-looking man who was following her: “Excuse me, sir, but I’m really scared. Would you mind walking with me to my own neighborhood?” The man agreed, and when she got home she invited him in for a cup of tea, at which point she learned that he had intended to assault her. Her appeal to his kindness overwhelmed him; he couldn’t remember a time anyone had looked for the gentleness in him. In that instant, his life was changed.

Carolyn Peterson