In 1975, nearly all of the women in Iceland took one particular day off. Schools, daycare centers, theaters, fish factories and newspapers closed down — most of those institutions were fueled by female employees. Men were forced to take their children to work. The goal was to remind men how indispensable women are for the country’s economy and society.
I begin with the story of Iceland here
because I love how its women were able
to remind everyone, on one pivotal day,
how we intersect as a society. Without that
awareness, we are prone to think essential
elements of our daily lives piece together as
if by magic.
In reality, for communities to function,
we rely on an invisible network of moving
parts. How long would any of us subsist in
isolation, without the benefit of products
and services and care that come from
others? How much do we take for granted
that each of those moving parts will always
be there — our cleared roadways and health
care and food, our homes and modes of
transportation, our emergency responders,
our intellectual and emotional resources?
How often do we think about what would
happen if women, or immigrants, or ‘others,’
stopped showing up for work?
If we all went through a typical day and
noticed how many women we interact with,
we would have a sense of the power of the
ecosystem over the individual.
The Independent “Me”
Years ago I was shaped by a simple
statement that offered me a new perspective.
A cancer pathologist, who looked into cells
at the microscopic level, said that we tend to
see “self” as an independent entity — one
consistent structure from day to day — yet
in reality all of us are transformed all the
time in the most fundamental ways.
For example, we share bacteria with
others, as this season’s nasty bout of flu
reminds us. From the day we are born until
the day we die, our essential breath is never
“ours” alone, but is continuously shared,
moving in and out of the boundaries of self.
Nothing about the makeup of our foundation
is permanently or independently “me.” Even
our thoughts and actions and reactions are
impacted continuously by new experiences,
new conversations, new awareness.
Each month we explore in these pages
how we connect as a society — where that
web is fragile, where we draw strength. In
this month’s theme, we are looking at how
the tapestry of society is made of colorful,
yet invisible threads that bind me to we, us
In particular, we examine the systemic
parts that are not working, which affects the
whole. We hear from women about where
the snags are in housing and mental health,
and what threads they suggest we need to
Stephannie Lewis helps us see how
implicit bias clouds our vision. Nancy
Miller shares an experience that helped
her understand the impact of our web of
relationships. Jamie Schumacher explains
why she is a tapestry. Chiaki O’Brien shows
how she weaves without pattern.
It is in connection and collaboration that we become what we are:
Powerful. Everyday. Women.