Calling on the “Mother” within, to Heal Ourselves & Mother Earth
What Is The Mother Ideal?
What is the mother ideal, you might be wondering? In many cultures across the globe, the ones most responsible for caring about and protecting life are mothers. In my thinking, we must all – men and women, children and older people – honor the responsibility of mothers as we set out to care for ourselves, each other, and our living, breathing planet.
We Must Conceive a World in which All Parts Work Together
As mothers, we must conceive a world in which all parts, human and non-human, work together for optimal health and balance. We must bring this delicate balance to life and to nurture it until it is strong enough to be self-sustaining. We must also learn a way to release our hold on this balance so it can flourish on its own. To be effective mothers, we need to use our creative energies to guide all that is vulnerable to states of independent well-being. Mothers, it should be said, don’t just sustain life by their caring; they teach and lead those they care for, to care for themselves. So as mothers, we are called to be leaders. We must birth a new earth and tend it, and lead others to do so as well.
Being Mindful in the Process of Birthing a New Earth
Let us be mindful in this process that some mothers aren’t always prepared to serve the best interests of their children (or themselves, for that matter!) in mind. Mothers don’t always help their children to grow up to be independent adults, for example. Mothers don’t always feed their children healthy foods, give their children safe places to live, recognize when their children are sick, know how their children learn best, support their children’s dreams, and help their children cultivate their wonderful, life-affirming talents. Mothers don’t always cooperate with other mothers for the well-being of all children, and focus only on their own. And mothers don’t always become role models and leaders of good nurturing. So when we think of being mothers, we need to keep an ideal vision in mind and to try to put that ideal into action.
Ingredients of the ‘Mother Ideal’
What are the ingredients of this ideal? They include many values traditionally associated with women and with the feminine. These include having empathy, or being able to step into the shoes of others to feel what they feel, and caring about the feelings of others. Another ingredient is our desire to alleviate or at least minimize harm and the suffering of all people, creatures, plants, and living systems. This ideal means seeing all living beings as essentially connected not separated. An ideal mother’s main goal, then, is restoring relationships rather that separating fighting parties and awarding winners with prizes and losers with nothing. Being able to restore relationships to their healthiest states also requires that ideal mothers be able to see beyond the factors that we sometimes think separate us, like national boundaries, religious beliefs, ethnicities, racial identities, and cultural and religious practices.
Looking Beyond what Might Divide Us
When we look beyond what might divide us, we can see what really makes us human. And when we can really see what makes us human, we can see how closely tied human health is to the health of the earth. Ideal mothers also see that nurturing this health requires peace. After all, babies can’t have restoring sleep when there’s noise that wakes them; children can’t play and have fun when there’s conflict around them; young minds can’t learn and develop when they are distracted by chaos; and leaders can’t lead when the attention of those who need leading is preoccupied with planning how to win a combat.
Treating the World as a Responsive Whole
All of these principles work toward one end, namely treating the world as a developing, responsive whole. As such, we can no longer treat the earth as have generations before us, as an object to be taken violently and used for whatever purpose we desire. Just as rape is morally wrong, so is plundering the earth and spoiling its natural systems, especially if the goal is simply to make a profit. Humans are creative beings; we can create a world in which the economy and ecology develop side by side for the benefit of all life forms.
Adopting the ‘Mother Ideal” Can Be a Radical Move For Some
Adopting the mother ideal as your own can be a radical move, especially if you are not a woman or haven’t valued traditionally feminine virtues. But good mothering is a practice that can be done by men and women, boys and girls. It requires strength, determination, and taking risks in the face of danger. The health of the planet and of all people is in danger. Now is the time to become a mother, to conceive a new world and way of living, and to step forward and make this real. Now is the time to embark upon the pathway to eco-intelligent living!