Recently someone emailed me after watching my TEDx Talk for the first time. He had some questions after watching my story and wanted to share his thoughts on it as well.
Upon reading my email reply, he called me to thank me and point out the inherent value of my responses. It made me realize that our conversation was worth sharing. Here is that conversation now:
He: I Enjoyed your TED talk.
Me: Thank you for taking the time to watch it. I am thrilled to know it still moves people. Its no wonder I speak for a living now. There is so much to be said, heard & learned and there is no denying the power of one’s own voice. One of the countless gifts of this talk was that preparing for it was an undertaking in studentship on my own life. As a result, even though I had lived through it up close and personal, there were truths uncovered and things learned about myself yet.
He: A few thoughts – (1) I don’t understand why women are mistreated in so many places in the world when they’ve proved to be smart, rational, and in many instances, more than capable leaders; (2) America is a wonderful country and we’ve welcomed & integrated more immigrants than most countries. We’re not perfect with the process & results, however I’d guess we’ve handled it better than some countries could or would;
Me: (1) I think it is because no country is exempt from its culture, traditions and mental-conditioning, which are a double-edged sword by any stretch.
If we think about the ice age for example – no borders, no countries, no government etc. At that time women were automatically the passive gender. Nobody knows why they took on that role, they just did. If not, they would go hunting and gathering and the men would be at the cave cooking and cleaning hides to make clothes.
Somewhere along the evolutionary curve that started changing and I bet it was a subtle, slow change compared to the speed of civil evolution of the time. And that might not all be bad because, culture & traditions are after-all a uniting force for a people generation-after-generation. So it bears to reason that the more we retain, the more cohesive a culture might remain.
Unfortunately, that is also the bad news (the second edge of the sword). The fact that cultures & traditions do not keep pace with civil evolution makes them DOA upon arrival at evolutionary landmarks. Add to that fact, that change is not a popular favorite, cultural evolution and civil evolution rarely make it to the finish line together. As a result, status quo reigns for longer than it should and the fruits of evolutionary change are often missed by the generation that started it.
(2) America with all its challenges seems to be ahead of that curve compared to other countries, which is why in my talk I specifically used the words “….everything being relative….” and concluded with “where else in this world would you rather be?”
He: I Loved the quote “There are more rewards to my job than money and you are one of them”. If we all had an occupation that allowed us to make this statement, we would be happier. Too often we’re in jobs that are a bad fit for us, which is unfortunate;
Me: I agree wholeheartedly. As a single mother, I did not have the luxury of waiting to find work that I loved, was good at, or that offered compensation to match my talents, so I took what I got and kept on working until 2+ decades of life had simply vaporized. It is the reason I started my LLC later in life.
But ofcourse, in keeping with the theme of slow, evolutionary change, every single potential employer has looked at my resume and thought me unfit to be hired because I was looking for something other than what I had done in the past. No amount of rhetoric, explaining to them that my resume only tells them what I have done not what I am good at, has inspired an employer to step out of the convenience of their comfort zone and hire me. A sterling track record of trainability and aptitude do little to cause any impetus.
He: Finally, I’ve always thought that other than our decision on faith, the next most important decision we make is choosing our spouse. A great marriage can lead to wonderful rewards.
Me: Again, I agree. My parents had a wonderful marriage for 50 years. Different as they were, the dividends of their alliance far outweighed any chance of them giving up on each other.
He: I’m thankful you survived two divorces. I am sure it was not easy.
Me: Thank you. I suppose no great growth is easy. Once achieved however, it has the power to change the course of a people and their history. I am hopeful that is the case yet again.