10/05/2006

The Most Powerful Thing I've Read All Day!

song du jour: Dreams, FLeetwood Mac

mood: Just Wow

From Chapter 2
If you're a man, when you were growing up I'll bet there was one pair of words you never heard set up against each other with regard to you and your life, that is selfless and selfish. These words are for women. Oh, from time to time your mother may have told you you were selfish, but she didn't really mean it. After all, you were different from her. You were supposed to be so absorbed in your own activities that you were more or less oblivious to the state of order or disorder in your room and the subtle mood changes of the people around you. You got love for being precisely that way-active and self-absorbed and good at things. (Good at what things is the rub, but I'll get back to that in a moment.)

If you were a little girl, you probably weren't told you were selfish unless you tried to do something you wanted to do that wasn't for anybody but you. And then-especially if you got so wrapped up in it that you forgot to be nice to your baby brother or set the table-it was made swiftly clear that you lacked the quality that makes for lovable people and you'd better shape up.

Women are raised for love. That is, we have been raised to give it in order to get it. Our upbringing trained us to nurture other people. We're supposed to be good to our children so that they can grow up and realize themselves. We're supposed to back up our husbands so that they feel free to go out and realize themselves. In other words, the flowers are to grow, and guess what that makes us? Fertilizer-to put it politely. That's how most of us were taught we would get love - not by being flowers ourselves. If we dared to flower-to be active and self-absorbed and good at things - nobody would feed our roots, and we would die. At least, that's how it felt.

The psychologist Abraham Maslow has written that all human beings have a hierarchy of needs. Our more basic needs have to be fulfilled before we can even start thinking about the higher ones. First come food and shelter—the physical, survival needs. Then come the emotional needs-love for ourselves as we really are and a sense of belonging. Only when all those all those needs are fulfilled do we really feel secure enough to seek self-realization. Love is such a fundamental need that people go where the love goes just the way the roots of a plant turn toward water and the leaves turn toward light. Our culture trains us to take certain roles by putting the love in that direction - and we just grow that way! And the fact is that in our culture, until very recently, most men have gotten love for realizing themselves; most women have gotten it for helping other people realize themselves.

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