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I. Lindemann: Feminine Qualities of Leadership

More and more women are assuming leadership and responsibility in public positions. As of April 2011 we have 20 female world leaders in power. What do we expect from a woman as leader in politics and business?’ And further, what do the people wish for from a woman in a leading position?

Historical Perspective

I first would like us to look at history. Generally speaking history is mostly viewed from an androcentric[i] perspective. In science and archeology, which deals with the beginnings of humankind, the art of the ancient Stone Age is interpreted as male hunting scenery. However the symbols of masculinity were grouped in peripheral positions. This indicates that women had an honored and significant role to fulfill. Wall paintings and archeological finds from Siberia to Central Europe lead us to conclude that the concept of a higher feminine deity existed.

According to Riane Eisler[ii] the predominant ideology of the earlier Stone Age was gynocentric; the woman, represented by a deity in female form, took the central position. The decline of these ancient societies began with the invasions of the Indo-European nomadic peoples, who brought with them their war gods. The central concept of their system was their understanding that the power to take life was valued more than the power to give life. Consequently, women were deprived of their decision-making authority and their spiritual authority. The new ruling elite were seeking to consolidate their power.

At the time of Jesus, inspired by the teachings of Jesus a movement started which included the beginnings for equal rights of women. Jesus demonstrated through his example that women were to be respected; he treated them with equal value. This was scandalous for that time. In early Christendom women were given leading positions. Meetings took place in the homes of his female disciples. However, Jesus’ realization that a spiritual evolution could lead to fundamental changes of society through a new value system of female virtues (sympathy, caring, non-violence, altruism, love) was not acceptable to the establishment.

In the following centuries, androcentric systems and systems of partnership interchanged. Viewed from this historical perspective, historians acknowledge that the present time is again an opportunity for social transformation as it was 2,000 years ago. It is remarkable how certain time periods seem to be repeating.

Everywhere throughout the world, awareness of global responsibility for the creation is growing; everywhere activities for the promotion of peace are increasing. It is obvious that people are seeking the ideals of female virtues.

A Wish from the Viewpoint of a Man

At a meeting of the Women’s Federation for World Peace (WFWP) in Frankfurt, Germany, Dr. Heiner Weber said,

When I heard of the initiative of the WFWP for the first time I was very pleased and hopeful. Whether we admit it or not, we men very often suffer in and because of our rather male-dominated society. A positive and successful change can only come from the feminine side.

With the beginning of the women’s movements at the end of the 18th century, changes came about. The endeavors of various women’s movements indicate that a more fundamental common value system is missing, values that can lead to a better acceptance and cooperation by men.

Dr. Weber referred to this when he stated: “Looking at the aims of your WFWP according to the literature I have, then I can only congratulate you and conclude: also men need this movement!”

But changes will only happen when we women take the “feminine” into all walks of life. Women who only follow the old ways of men will not change anything for the better.

Definition of the Feminine

Before we go further with our topic I would like us to think a little about the definition of feminine. Generally, feminine is everything relating to women. In biology and medicine, female describes gender. But in philosophy and ethics “feminine” also refers to certain virtues that are ascribed to women, e.g., the female gender. But they are not limited to this definition.

In Unification Thought the difference is clearly defined: two human characteristics exist, male and female. Both have inner and outer, positivity and negativity, which are characteristics of their common origins. The difference between man and women is that man has additional masculine elements, which are missing in woman, and woman has additional unique feminine elements that are not present in man. The other positive and negative aspects of inner and outer are the same for both genders. Equally the inner nature of the human being is masculine and feminine.[iii]

This indicates that when we speak about the feminine characteristics in us, we do not only speak about something uniquely relating to us women but something present in all human beings, man and woman alike.

It seems that some cultures before us were much more aware about this. If we study deeply the words of the stories in the Old Testament we discover some interesting and until now hidden aspects.

Friedrich Weinreb, author and professor of national economics and statistics, studied the sources of ancient Jewish knowledge as he felt a personal connection to them because of his Hassidic origin. In his essay “Gott Mutter, die weibliche Seite Gottes” (Mother God, the Feminine Side of God),[iv] Weinreb associates female characteristics with our origin. He states that the expression “Lord God” (German: Herrgott) in Hebrew is female: “Thus when I say ‘Lord,’ I acknowledge simultaneously through the language I use female God!”

A number of Gnostic writings refer to God as a dual entity that unites masculine and feminine elements. Members of these Gnostic groups pray to God the father and God the mother: “From you, Father and through you, Mother, the two immortal names of the World Parents.”[v]

Jesus describes God the Father primarily as one who cares for his children and fulfils their needs. He addresses God as “Abba,” a childlike form of speech expressing childlike trust in his parents, God, who one day will wipe away all their tears. Looking after children and taking care of their needs is an expression of the feminine, motherly aspect (of God).

Other religions also show that there are both aspects present in the origin or source of all existence. For example in Taoism we see the principle of yin and yang.

The Christian cultural sphere refers to a statement made in the Old Testament that God created man in his own image, male and female.[vi]

What Feminine Qualities and Powers Lie within Us?

A headline in the largest newspaper in Germany, Die Zeit, asked the question: “What is feminine?"[vii] The editorial department covered this topic in four different articles and two full pages of pictures. Among the people quoted were:

Gertrude Lübbe-Wolff, a professor and a judge at the German Federal Constitutional Court, said: "Every society profits if its citizens are capable of placing themselves in a position with perspectives which are not immediately related to their own. Many people see this quality as feminine.”[viii]

Ulrike Brandi, an artist, was of the opinion that the feminine view always includes all senses, and always one which listens.

Barbara Unmüssig, a political scientist, referred to one stamp that the feminine aspect can make on management style. Instead of being caught up in inefficient internal power clashes, women promote cooperation, teamwork, and networking. She also said she observes a different feminine reaction in situations where there is conflict.

Margot Kässmann, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran national church in Hanover, said:

One special feminine point of view is clearly the way women perceive other people. Women much more often keep the overall living situation of their counterpart in mind. Women often need harmony around them more than men. I myself ... would rather seek to achieve common perspectives ... because a position taken as the result of consensus often lasts very much longer than decisions taken by a single person on their own.[ix]

People often seek to solve conflicts through force, since they simply do not have the capabilities that emerge from feelings of security, respect, and love in order to reach a constructive solution to a conflict. These abilities have, in turn, their bases in experiencing a feeling of security, respect, and love.

A nonviolent conflict-resolution strategy as a means to achieve social change is surely a feminine quality. This type of conflict resolution generates positive, transformative energy. Gandhi called this "the power of truth." At the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI called upon women to: "Hold back the hand of man who, in a moment of folly, might attempt to destroy human civilization!"

A typical feminine way of experiencing things is a deep emotional desire to satisfy the needs of another and to make other people happy. This attitude is an expression of a mature, grown-up love that acts for the wellbeing of others.

This form of love can be observed most regularly in the history of humankind in the love of a mother for her child. In this temporarily symbiotic relationship, the needs of the child awaken in the mother the desire to satisfy these needs.

In Die Kunst des Liebens,(The Art of Loving), Erich Fromm said:

The principle of motherhood is unconditional love. She does not love her children because they make her happy but because they are her children (or those of another woman). Thus the love of a mother can also not be gained through "good behavior" or lost through "bad behavior." A mother's love is gracious and merciful.[x]

He associated a father's love, on the other hand, with fulfilling various conditions. It depends on the performance and good behavior of the child. The father most loves the child who is most similar to him, and that child is the one to whom he wishes to leave his possessions

Men have been raised more to devalue, rather than confirm, the ability to react positively to the needs of another. This patriarchal system of education and thinking has given rise to the wrong belief that "feminine" qualities can only be found in women.

According to these patriarchal ideas, a man is devalued when he behaves thoughtfully. On the other hand, Jesus promoted just such behavior in his parables about the Good Samaritan and about the Pharisee and tax collector praying in the Temple. He demonstrated this himself in an exemplary fashion by washing his disciples’ feet.

Jesus promoted feminine values and virtues such as loving one's neighbor and even one's enemy, compassion, taking responsibility for each other, and treating others as we would like to be treated as the central point of his teachings. He preached based on the clear knowledge that spiritual evolution coming from this new values system will lead to a fundamental change in society.

Dr. Christa Mulak said:

Something which appears to me much more important for Jesus than the fact that he was a man was his clearly verifiable appreciation of feminine qualities. This attitude can be taken as exemplary by both women and men in equal measure. Just as human beings can only come into being through man and woman together, then also the godly or the divine can only come about through the polar unity of things masculine and things feminine. [xi]

Whatever we may think about Jesus, whether we see him as a prophet, philosopher, messiah, preacher of his day or, as the Jews believe, a rabbi, his view and vision is still valid to this very day and must be recognized.

One further feminine quality has been described so beautifully by Weinreb:

God created from His being, that is from His femininity, since His being is, according to the language used, also his femininity. He gives and ladles out, just as one would pull a bucket out of a well and pour water into a trough, a container, a beaker. Thus it is a present. The Creator gives from His being, He gives time from His femininity.[xii]

Weinreb experienced and defined the "feminine" in God as the "being," the source of the creation, and connects this with images from the Old Testament, the stories where women such as Rebecca, Rachel, and Zipporah stood at the well and drew water for others. Creation is the gift we receive without any condition or foundation to do so. That is like a mother giving birth and caring for her child: unconditionally, given as a gift, without any preconditions.

The fascinating thing for me was the connection of the creation with time. Time is a valuable commodity that also, according to Weinreb, grows out of the being, out of femininity.

I would like to offer a few further examples from the New Testament. Jesus spoke about the mustard seed that grows into a tree and then offers protection to birds. In the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, Jesus likened God's Kingdom to leaven, sourdough starter, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal until the whole was leavened. In the fermentation process of the leaven, just as in the case of the growth process of the mustard seed, Jesus was demonstrating the nature of God's Kingdom. It consisted, in both cases, of completely natural processes which occur when they are protected from external influences and are patiently left alone to develop.

Not activity at any price, as the patriarchal model in particular demands of men, but rather patient waiting that "leaves things to evolve as they will," the all-lively immanence, is of much greater importance here. This is only possible through the elementary connection between people, also known as agape. According to Riane Eisler, its symbol since the beginning of time has been the circle or ellipse, not the sharp-cornered lines of the pyramids, which symbolize the strictly hierarchical dominance of men — whether as gods, political leaders, or the head of a family. Feminine patience, the understanding of the nature of the growth processes, and wisdom are given the highest acclaim by Jesus.

I am always happy, in this connection, to mention a quote from Chris Griscom, an American woman author and healer:

The feminine strives in all ideas, with creative efforts, to find that which is common and to unite, in that it, in the face of resistance, discovers openings and solutions and finds that which binds people together in all ideologies and philosophies. Which perspective would be better suited to research, fashion and realize the opportunity to achieve peace? Who is most suited to achieve peace and to educate the next generation to pursue peace?[xiii]

The power of women is a fascinating thing. In a UN report from the 1980s one reads: “Women make up half of the world's population, they work two-thirds of the total hours worked throughout the world, they receive one tenth of the world's income and are in possession of less than one percent of the wealth of the world.”

Even though lately no such global statement has been made I have difficulties in believing that this situation has changed very much in the new millennium.

In the annual report of UN Women[xiv] it is stated:

far too often, gender discrimination continues to undercut women’s options. Globally, 50 percent of women are in vulnerable jobs that pay little and can disappear without warning, and gender wage gaps are still on average between 10 and 30 percent.

The injustice practiced against women is clearly apparent. However, it is particularly the strength of women, the strength of the feminine which comes out in this report.

Swedish author Astrid Lindgren's literary girl and women characters often demonstrate courage, independence, and tenacity.[xv] She describes women who are free from a rigid, socially dictated assignment of functions; it does not matter what task they take on, the most valuable things are always their capacity to love independently of external measures of value and the significance of feminine self-confidence.

Let us summarize what we have defined as feminine qualities:

·         the deep emotional desire to satisfy other people’s needs, to make other people happy

·         love of one's neighbor and even one's enemy

·         compassion

·         responsibility to one another

·         treating others as we would like ourselves to be treated

·         the ability to create

·         a connection with the origin of all being

·         creativity in all aspects of life

·         patience

·         an understanding of growth processes

·         finding common ground and uniting on that basis

·         discovering that which binds us together in all ideologies and philosophies

·         endurance

·         courage, independence, and tenacity

·         a capacity to love independently of external measures of value

·         the ability to place ourselves in a position to understand other perspectives

·         keeping the overall living situation of a person in mind

·         a view which always includes all senses

·         avoidance of power clashes

·         a desire to achieve more efficient cooperation

·         harmonizing and equalizing

·         achieving positions which are based on consensus

We are surely not yet finished in our definition of the word "feminine." There are still many more qualities that could be defined as "feminine." Rather than making an exhaustive list, I am much more interested in leaving space for people to reflect, deepen their understanding, and gain very personal realizations. However, even if we just took these previously mentioned aspects and gave them leading roles then we could certainly achieve certain basic changes.

Basic Prerequisites for Including Feminine Values

Education: If it is our desire to bring these feminine capabilities into society then it is surely essential for us to qualify ourselves and to continuously further our education concerning everything to do with the area in which we wish to make a contribution. Professionalism is most certainly not just a male domain. Here I would like to draw your attention to something which we often forget: The ancient Roman philosopher Seneca said: "We do not dare to do something because it is difficult; it becomes difficult because we do not dare to do it."

Thanks to the various tasks which I have taken on in the Women's Federation for World Peace, I have been able to realize how multi-faceted the expression of truth is and how fascinating the search to discover its different aspects is. Further education is a gift from Heaven. I am also not just referring here to the accumulation of external knowledge. A further horizon is to feel joy through recognizing connections, deepening our understanding of that which philosophers, sages, and prophets have bequeathed to us, helping us to recognize our original essence and nature as women and achieve this once again. Our search embraces our inheritance from the past and fills it with new life.

The dignity of woman: We who are living in Europe are very fortunate to be in a culture in which we can easily be conscious of this important point, and we can be very thankful for this. However, there are still so many women throughout the world who simply have no chance at all to find their true identity.

It is therefore essential to restore the original value of woman and her dignity in the consciousness of the society through

·         self-affirmation of being a person with a unique and valuable personality

·         as a being in whom divinity resides

·         consciousness that we possess special values, capabilities, and talents which our society needs

·         understanding that without women there can be no peace and no further development of our society

The Renaissance philosopher Pico della Mirandola[xvi] saw the dignity of people in self-determination and free development of their character. All other creations grow according to laws, and it is only people, human beings, who have the option, in other words, the divine commission, to help create themselves.

The spiritual aspect: For Klara Maria Fassbender,[xvii] the co-founder of the West German Women’s Peace Movement, the task of woman in fashioning society is to inject a new spirit also into masculine politics, to move away from the old political friend/enemy type of thinking and to recognize that politicians can resolve their conflicting interests at a higher level.

She says that our task as women is to train our heart. It is in our heart that we carry the divine essence and nature. The more we can obtain access to our heart, the more our internal “structural design” and its potential can develop. Every person can find their way individually perhaps through music, art, meditation, contemplation, and internal dialogue. Benevolent self-reflection without personal value judgments can lead to healing of the spiritual wounds which block access to the heart. Once freed, emotions, intellect, and will become expressions of the heart which are revealed in the form of loving acts.

Thus it is particularly the spiritual aspect of the individual’s personality which is associated with the topic of women as leaders Only if we open up opportunities for true inner renewal can we also reform our social behavior. Therefore, we as women have simpler access to each other beyond all limitations of religions and philosophies.

The Necessity of the Unity of Feminine and Masculine Aspects

I do not wish to be misunderstood, since I am neither a feminist nor a proponent of replacing a patriarchy by a matriarchy. We live in a time when models for partnership must be developed.

Shakti Gawain[xviii] sees in our intuitive, receptive aspect the feminine aspect which can receive the creative force of the universe. Conversion of internal impulses into actions is what she sees as the masculine aspect. This unification of feminine and masculine energies within every person is the basis for all creative acts – feminine intuition plus masculine action leads to creativity.

In his “Symposium,” or Banquet, the Greek philosopher Plato referred to the old saying that humankind initially arose as a twin creation, as a man and woman at the same time. This “androgynous” prehistoric human being was separated by enraged gods because they feared that humans would be invincible when in the form of man and woman together.

As already mentioned, in the Judeo-Christian realm, humankind is described as having been created in the image of God, as man and woman. The Hebrew name for God Elohim is a plural form. This suggests that it is only in unity (of men and women) that humankind is able to mirror its origin. The word Jehovah also carries both characteristics within itself: Je is masculine, but hova combined with with je is feminine.

One also finds in Taoist teachings that the whole only comes into being through the unity of Yang and Ying.

The time is now ripe for us to understand that a culture of peace can only arise if both aspects, the masculine and the feminine, work with each other on an equal basis. This will be achieved through an influx of feminine qualities into all areas of society.

From 1975 to 1992, Ingrid Lindemann worked in Latin America with several social projects in support of workers and families. The social projects consisted of counselling families and individuals, rebuilding companies to supply new working places, and working with government institutions to create new branches of trade to develop the economic structure of the country. Since returning to her native Germany in 1992, she co-founded the German Association for Families with More Than Three Children (Deutscher Großfamilienverein/ DGFV), founded the Project for the Elder Generation (Gestrickte Liebe), and co-founded the Dignity Project. She has been president of the Women’s Federation for World Peace-Germany since 2000.

[i] Androcentrism is the practice, conscious or otherwise, of placing male human beings or the masculine point of view at the center of one's view of the world and its culture and history. Gynocentrism is the practice, conscious or otherwise, of placing female human beings or the feminine point of view at the center of one's view of the world and its culture and history. Gynocentrism is similar to androcentrism, with the focus on the male replaced with a focus on the female.

[ii] Author of Kelch and Schwert (The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future).

[iii] An interpretation of the relevant part of. Sang Hun Lee, Explaining Unification Thought. New York, USA: Unification Thought Institute, 1981,. p. 52.

[iv] Short essay, printed by Thauros Publishing House, ISBN 978-3-905783-62-9.

[v] Quoted by Elaine Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels. New York: Random House, 1989.

[vi] There is no patriarchy or matriarchy in the divine but instead the affirmation that the Lord our God is One.

 7 Die Zeit, March 3, 2005.

[viii] Translation by the author.

[ix] Translation by the author.

[x] Translation by the author.

[xi] Mulack: Jesus, der Gesalbte der Frauen, ISBN 9783783108750

[xii] Translation by the author.

[xiii] Griscom, Der weibliche Weg (Feminine Fusion).

[xiv] Annual report of UN Women 2010-2011.

[xv] She is best known for her Pippi Longstocking, Karlsson-on-the-Roof, and the Six Bullerby Children series.

[xvi] De hominis dignitate (About the dignity of the human being) 1486/87.

[xvii] 1890 - 1974

[xviii] In Creative Visualization and other books