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(This is a reprint of Bayla Bower’s "Croning" column,
written at the end of July 2001, published in Buffalo Woman's Vision September/October 2001.)
Are they really my friends?
Do we share the same values? Did they respond to my request?
Days ago I sent a plea for action via e, voice, and snail
mail, asking people to protest police brutality in Genoa. Of the 45 women (most of them crones) and 5 men (all of them gay)
only a handful responded. Attempting to minimize my dis-appointment, I rationalized. Maybe they called the Italian consulate
or sent emails to the government officials, but didn’t tell me. Maybe they forwarded the message to 10 of their friends,
greatly increasing the number of people aware of the situation.
I began to ponder what it would take to move people
to action, even the relatively safe and simple action of phoning a consulate and sending a few emails. What if I was in Genoa
and had first-hand knowledge of the brutality? Would those 50 friends and colleagues respond? Do we have to know someone personally
to be motivated to act? Are we so complacent and anesthetized that we don’t believe an account of pacifists being beaten
in their sleep, psychologically tortured, made to shout "Viva El Duce" (in an interrogation room with pictures of Mussolini
on the walls)? I cannot, just can not bring myself to say that we don’t care.
There is no torture, abuse, or
humiliation that doesn’t affect us. Brutality against anyone is brutality against all of us, against the earth that
sustains our lives. The rape and plunder of our national resources is the rape and plunder of our humanity. We must do something
to change that. We must act right now to bring about the world we want to live in. Please, please do something today that
will make a better world tomorrow. Pick up the phone. Go to that web site. Send that email. Work on a project. Commit to an
action that embodies the change you want to take place. If you don’t know what to do, ask your activist friends or contact
me for suggestions.
Here’s one thing we can do right now. What if we, the women of the world, ended the abuse--of
ourselves, in our families, among our friends, at our work place, in our professions and organizations, in our government?
What would it take for each of us to make that commitment? We could start with ourselves by reframing the negative self-talk,
the voice that says, "I’m not (fill in the blank) enough," "I should," "I can’t." That’s a big one, an ongoing
process, but let’s not stop there. Let’s end the verbal abuse in our lives--what we say to others, what we allow
others to say to us. Let’s reclaim our place as way showers of the human tribe, as wise women who teach by example.
Let’s harvest our wisdom and act on it every day.
Crones are even more obliged to act, for we are the guardians
of the future. In our decades of adulthood, we have witnessed the destruction of the planet, the disappearance of species,
the brutality of othering. We already have the venues to collectively raise and direct our crone power. When we feel most
inspired and empowered, in our conferences, gatherings, and circles, we can focus our energy on healing the earth. We can
make personal and group commitments to continue the work of restoration, social justice, and healing. We can support each
other in our activism.
Once a year hundreds of crones gather for several days of networking and celebration. While
we bathe in the glow of support and acceptance, people are being tortured all over the planet, the earth is calling, the crones
of the future are watching. Of course we need the validation and inspiration engendered by our gatherings. We need to tell
our stories and listen to our sister crones. We need to trace our lineage back to ancient times and forward to the present
in order to fully embody our crone identity. We need to honor our elders, learn from each other, and appreciate our diversity.
We also need to recognize our responsibilities, to leverage our crone energy not only to influence the world, but to change
it. Croning, we can do both.
Croning implies an awareness of the personal as political, of knowing when to say no
and when to say yes, of working with our fear so it doesn’t prevent us from acting. A familiar word (as in croning ceremonies)
in a new context, croning is a process that begins when we identify as crone. It’s more specific than conscious aging,
or from age-ing to sage-ing, for it applies only to old women.
Croning is not easy. I am aware that I am swimming upstream
against the dominant culture because I’m not trying to rid myself of wrinkles, gray hair, and sagging breasts. I am
not willing to become invisible or inactive (quite the opposite), or to take up less physical, energetic, and intellectual
space because I’m an old woman.
Croning is about old women coming into their power, a power that arises from
within, that is fueled with passionate concern for our planet, tempered by compassion for ourselves and all beings. Croning
is about empowering ourselves to share our wisdom, to live our values, and to act in harmony with both. Croning, we not only
harvest the wisdom from our life experience, we act on that wisdom to embody the world we want to create.
it take for you to commit to this process, to engage in croning?