The thunder is rumbling in the distance as I eat the homemade oatmeal and blueberry pancakes I cooked on my new griddle today. I started the day out listening to the Sotomayer hearings but had to turn the news off after she was forced to sacrifice "heart" as a valuable component of decision-making.
I understand the fears of her (mostly male) colleagues. After all, as a country we have been led by logicians and masculine authoritarians for our entire history. We have been led by men compelled to subscribe to our culturally-constructed definition of masculinity: a construct that requires dichotomic thinking, the vilification of emotion, and engagement in competitive ego battles. No room for heart there.
But its time for a change.
The origin of the original "heart" statement now being used by senators to question the nominee, was our president. Some time ago, while responding to a question on how he would nominate judges, Obama said that in 95 percent of Supreme Court decisions, “the law is pretty clear…. But it’s those 5 percent of the cases that really count. And in those 5 percent of the cases, what you got to look at is: What is in the justice’s heart?
"What’s their broader vision of what America should be?.... we need somebody who’s got the heart … the empathy to recognize what it’s like to be a young, teenaged mom; the empathy to understand what it’s like to be poor or African-American or gay or disabled or old. And that’s the criteria by which I’m going to be selecting my judges.”
I agree with the man! Let's hear it for more heart!
Obama does not define his manhood the way men most in America do. And this is part of his appeal. He is not afraid to talk about emotion, to have a strong , equally-educated, extremely successful wife. He does not feel the need to prove he is a "real man" by talking endlessly about "victory" in Iraq. He tells complete strangers he loves them. He has empathy. And that is one of the reasons I voted for him. The masculinist focus of the last 200 years has NOT served us.
Most men in this country get punished for not behaving in a way that is consistent with societal norms of masculinity. Hence the recent rash of suicides by small boys who were being verbally bullied by their classmates who called them "faggots" and "sissies" while their teachers looked the other way. One mother defended her son. "He played football. He tried to fit in" (i.e. he tried to follow the "act like a boy" rules). His efforts did not save him. He had too much heart.
Meanwhile, off in the peace-touting, lovey-dovey corners of the earth, many are talking in glowing terms about an uplifting in consciousness- the creation of a New Earth where so much more is possible.
More Americans are interested in spirituality than ever, there has been a huge growth in green consciousness, and the younger generation is much less invested in perpetuating racism, sexism, classism and other ubiquitous forms of oppression. Young people are claiming gay and transgender identities earlier in life and demands for freedom are being made worldwide. And we elected a mixed-race black Hawaiian who has heart and are about to confirm a wise Latina as a Supreme Court justice.
With change comes resistance. Kicking and screaming is inevitable during times of accelerated growth and we should not be put off by it. A new, improved earth is on the way, one filled with heart, wise latinas, sensitive men, happy gay people, black people in power, animals free from abuse, healthy food, the flourishing of a green planet and the expansion of consciousness.
So, I am not going to worry. My high-fiber, high in antioxident, organic pancakes taste good and I am not frightened by the sound of booming thunder in the distance.