ARTICLES & STORIES
One Woman's Experience at the
Gather The Women Congress in
Victoria B.C., Canada
June 22 – 24, 2006
By Linda McLean (Vancouver Island, BC)
"It is time to 'gather the women' – for only when women are strong together can women be fiercely protective of what we love. Only then, will children be safe and peace a real possibility."
Jean Shinoda Bolen
GTW Congress Speaker and Author
Urgent Message from Mother:
Gather the Women, Save the World
I am sitting at the end of the wharf near my home. It's a place where I often walk to reflect, collect my thoughts, figure something out, or just feel the peace and enjoy the beauty. Mother Earth surrounds me, and here, I do not hear her screaming. Although I now know that she does.
This is no easy task, trying to put together my experiences and feelings after attending this "Gather The Women" Congress. But I made a promise to myself to do this paper and send it to the women I am grateful to have in my life, and to many who have simply crossed my path. This is one way I can share what I experienced at the GTW Congress, to plant one seed… and we all know the story of Scottish broom on the Island, so I figure this little exercise might accomplish more than I think.
I read about this upcoming event in the Victoria paper when I was there last month. I felt I had to come. Don't know why, but I've learned to follow these "instructions" over the years. The words "peace," "weaving a world that works," and "feminine leadership" drew me.
Over the past few years, I have been feeling increasingly hopeless and helpless about the escalating cruelty and suffering, and trauma and war, in our world.
After the closing on Saturday, I was feeling somehow even more disconcerted. I had been shaken and stirred – like a martini, but without the fun. I felt shaken with the realization of how big, how serious, this is. I felt stirred by the excitement that, just maybe, we could do it. Imagine… women, all over the world, determined to "weave a better world," together as one voice, creating global peace.
But what "on earth" could I do, as one person? Well, I decided to pick three things – one personal, one local, one international. This paper is the "local."
"I cannot do all the good that the world needs. But the world needs all the good I can do."
Back to the Congress itself….
Amazing speakers. Relaxed, graceful, strong, different, interesting, concerned women. Creative conversation circles. Honest discussions and individual sharings. For me, many solitary walks around UVic's grounds… I just needed to be alone with this. Then it dawned on me….
An energized and powerful peace movement is afoot… and – my god – it wears heels!
"There is an uprising happening all over the world by women who want to bring peace back to the planet. This will take courage, cunning, and creativity."
The GTW Congresses are providing a powerful avenue to make this happen. All over the world women want peace and they've had enough. They want the decision-makers to understand that there is another way to live together on this planet.
"War is not natural. Peace is"
This gathering wasn't about taking charge and coming up with the answers. It was about simply talking and listening. This was done through "conversation circles." Everyone is heard and everyone listens. The energy, respect, and thoughts built upon one another, opened us to another's perspective, and fostered insight and understanding.
"We can make it safe by working together."
This gathering wasn't about men versus women, it was about having both voices heard equally, about balance, and being open to another way of doing things, to change. To change the present system of running things – a system that cannot help but be competitive, controlling, and separate; one that cannot help but support the belief that war is a way to peace. It's not working.
"We are a growing sisterhood embracing the world, making a difference… an energized movement of women who are committed to compassionate and collaborative leadership."
This gathering wasn't about "joining the cult" or being convinced of anything.
"There is no issue here. No changing of ideas. We are women together in circles, listening and being heard, talking."
This gathering was about connecting, thinking, creating, sharing, empowering, and encouraging. And it was about optimism, vision, and common-unity…. community.
There was an energy that weekend that I can't explain, but I could feel right through my skin into that deep place at my centre. A "knowing" swelled inside me – I could physically feel it, that, yes! we can do something.
And maybe I can do something.
Total peace and the rescue of Mother Earth may not happen in my lifetime, but that doesn't matter at all. We have to start, each of us in our own way and our own time, to just do one thing.
So, sitting here in this absolutely privileged and peaceful place, I feel such gratitude and privilege. My mind, body, and spirit have calmed down, but have not forgotten what happened that weekend. I can do something to help and be a part of something very important. Maybe you can, too.
Four years ago, 90 women from around the world, who had been connecting through circles, both real and virtual, had a common vision. They gathered in the Hebrides Islands off Scotland's west coast. At the end of this time, they decided to organize 6 Gather The Women Congresses on 6 continents over two years. Victoria's North American Congress was the first of the six. The others are set for:
- Canada, Victoria, B.C – June 22 –24/06 (successfully launched)
- Africa, Bondo, Kenya – Dec. 1-4/06
- Australia, Sydney – July 6-8/07
- India, Goa – Sept. 23-27/07
- South America – TBA – 2007
- Europe/Mediterranean – TBA – 2007
Also, a worldwide women's gathering is being researched for Turkey in the fall of 2008 – I am thinking of joining this one, and possibly the one in Indian in 2007. Anyone else interested?
And, if enough of us petition and write the United Nations to hold a fifth International Conference on Women (to follow Beijing), it will happen. (www.petitiononline.com/5WWC/petition.html ). The Canadian women at the Victoria Congress were strongly encouraged to lobby our MPs in Ottawa to make this a Canadian happening in Vancouver in 2010.