Something happened when Donald Trump announced that the US would pull out from the Paris agreement on climate change. America used to be able to hold the world at ransom. Not anymore. America pulls out, and in stead of stalling the whole process, the rest of the world is simply moving on. America was the torch bearer of renewal in the 20th century. But in the 21st it is held back by what used to be its backbone: a white Christian demographic largely ruled by men.
I just came from watching the movie Wonder Woman. I rarely go see blockbusters. But there was something about this mega budget female-directed female super-starred movie that nudged me to take note. Yes, the plot has its clichés and linear (and violent) extremes. Yet, like “Titanic,” it is watched by millions, not just for its special effects, but for touching on a nerve of the current zeitgeist. Titanic reminded us of how tragically vulnerable our prowess can be. And Wonder Woman punches home the fundamental shift that is now taking place within the dynamics of human civilization: the time for the ruling of the masculine is running out.
The phenomenon of war stems from the hunter-gatherer society, where men for the first time clubbed together in order to bring home trophy food. Soon enough, the arrows were not only directed at animals, but at rival tribes as well. Fast forward to our civilized epoch of the last 10 000 years and the freedom that men tasted in grouping up – multiplying the effect of their projected male-hood – brought us to the phenomenon of all-out war-making. The punch of Wonder Woman lies in the association made between men and war-making and how the resurgence of the woman of power should spell an end to it.
Will wars ever end? Or, as is often asked these days, will there be a third world war?
I have a feeling that some of that answer lies in what has happened with the Paris accord. This accord is like a wonder woman that stepped in, shedding tears in a powerful manner. I know that the libertarians and free-marketers sneer at the accord as needless government interference in a greening process that is supposedly most effectively driven by market forces. Yes, the wind and solar industries are taking off and over with speed, fueled by the spirit of capitalism. But the capitalists did not start this by themselves. It took countless brave individuals and organizations over decades to crack, in the name of mother nature, through the old profiteering habits. First to awaken political consciousness, which in turn gave the first real impetus for economies to change direction. Then, only a few started venturing in, hardly making any profits, and only slowly, as reality and democratic forces kicked in, did the bulk start to join what has now become the new bandwagon. Thus, do not credit the modern day bands of corporate men with saving us from burning ourselves to death with fossil fuels. Credit those who stood up for the voice of the earth, the feminine dimension of dark soils, of a vulnerable biosphere, as well as the political will to give credence to this very un-male little phrase: “we have limits.”
There is of course still no shortage of dominant males (plus some very masculine-minded females) on the world stage. The question is, can they club together as they did in the past to present us with massive firework displays that we called the first and second world wars? I doubt this. After 1945, a number of fundamental shifts took place. One of the first was the disgust that set in in the so-called third world with the destructive behaviour of their erstwhile colonial masters. No longer could these masters be credited with much moral legitimacy. A second major shift – still ongoing – was the surge of women into professional and leadership positions. During the wars, women laboured to provide men with guns and ammunition to kill each other. From those factories they emerged with a heightened sense of their own empowerment. And a third shift was the emergent direct call of nature: the ability of men to exploit the material earth for heavenly purposes was starting to show its physical limitations. Today, all three of these have reached a serious crescendo, striking a harmonious chord in Paris: the democratic voices of the third world sounding out as first victims of a warming globe, major female leaders changing the tone of the general discourse and the spectre of global human trauma caused by a retaliating environment now a growing reality.
I feel this also right on my skin: the woman in my life exposing a level of reliance on abstractions within me, abstractions that obscures the view and touch of what is living and feeling, here, now, right in and in front of me. Truth and Love are no pillars anymore.. These lofty concepts can only find meaning if enacted in every turn of daily relating. Joke Debaere, the Wonder Woman!
Is this the beginning of the end of men? Are we entering a female paradise? No. There is no ultimate Paradise either way. Just a messy stumble in the hope of bringing man and woman, heaven and earth together as a team for a more equitable and sustainable future ahead. No rose garden, but hopefully, also no global warming furnace for all – such as we have recently witnessed here on the Cape Coast, and just yesterday, the fires in Portugal, described by the mayor of Pedrogao Grande as “not seem(ing) real… out of this world… it is an authentic inferno, we have never seen anything like that.”
And so, Joke and I look forward to nestling into our new base in Stutterheim soon. For my part, I will take time to find more of the real man in me, as I stare into the mirror upheld by this sky-piercing female, who is flowering in her own soils right next to me.
Terrible, humbling and liberating.