Building a life in early 21st century seems to come down to the on-board navigation systems we inherit via a series of dice rolls: the chance of surviving our birth, in the place of our birth, in the technology created in the last 100 years. Most of us had no conscious choice regarding any of these, yet they determine the opportunities and obstacles that make us who we become.
Cultural traditions, the wisdom, pain, courage, and stupidity of all previous generations of our bloodline make up our inheritance. They enhance or limit our exposure to education and income-generating know-how. They determine where we live, how healthy we are, and if we feel safe in our neighborhood.
A life navigation system is what we grasp for. Consider the Inertial Navigation System (INS) used in the maritime and aviation worlds. INS uses a computer integrated with motion sensors and rotation sensors to calculate continuously the position, orientation, and velocity of moving objects.
Think of our personal INS components as Mind (the thought integrator), Body (motion/cues sensors), and Spirit (rotation (upset) sensor.) All of them give us the opportunity to make sense of the people and opportunities moving, at overwhelm speed, through our lives. We’ve got a lot to track. If our baseline INS was set among abusive, drug dependent, angry, depressed people, we’ve got a very limited view of human potential and a major navigation disability to dig out of. The earlier, the better. Because, if we carry the INS analogy a step further, the really scary part shows up.
INS uses dead reckoning – a process of estimating the value of any variable relative to an earlier value, then adding whatever changes have occurred in the meantime. The rub: errors are cumulative.
The process of setting a child’s so-called ‘moral compass’– the values by which to live – is easily neglected and highly susceptible to twisted malpractice based on their parents’ crappy dice rolls.
Parenting is about teaching, in word and deed, a style of interpersonal behavior that enables a child to succeed in this world, and in the world we wish to create for them out of the current mess.
Fairness or injustice; compassion or indifference, generosity or greed; humility or arrogance, courage to change or fear of change. Never easy values to sort out. But what of those who never got well ‘set’ in the early goings?
If by age of five, a child has experienced only chaotic, negative relationships – and thus has seldom been assured of their intrinsic worth as a human being – their estimate of ‘position’ in the world has accumulated an egregious number of errors.
How do we course correct? We direct our best energy and resources to the elevation of women, particularly those denied early access to adept parenting and with a keen ability to survive.
Women will always be the best change agents. We know how to clean up a mess. And we know how to ennoble love.
These have always been the guiding values of Women’s Centers.