Technological progress has endowed humans with enormous, unprecedented power. To use this power responsibly without destroying the ecological and societal foundations of our life requires a deep change in values. We face the challenge of including all of humanity and everything that is alive on the planet that we inhabit into our thinking and feeling.
Institutional changes such as a transformation of property rights and obligations and of the money system, the introduction of a common good service that puts an end to involuntary unemployment, the establishment of an indicator of abundance of life as a lead economic indicator, and the application of improved democratic processes are all possible only if our values change. Conversely, institutional changes are necessary in order to support the transformation of values. Therefore changes of institutions and values, “outer” and “inner” change go hand in hand; they should never be seen as opposed.
The transformation of values needs to occur within the lifespan of most people alive today, because without a U-turn catastrophic climate change and species loss will begin soon. This means that a values transformation must happen with a speed unprecedented in human history, and it has to cover the entire planet. Of course, humanity is far more networked than it ever was by means of communication technologies, but values change usually requires quite a lot of time. It is not easy to overcome outdated patterns of thinking and feeling (or of suppressing feelings), and to practice new patterns. Therefore I do not know whether the values transformation will happen in time.
Currently, on the level of politics the opposite seems to be happening. Millions of people are ready to follow men exhibiting primitive perversions of masculinity into doom, in a blind loyalty resembling that of the Nibelungen saga. But perhaps this is part of a last rearing up of a deathbound culture. A few decades ago, conservatives had arguments that had to be taken seriously; they were intellectually on par with the arguments to show that societal change is necessary. But now conservatives are running out of arguments, and their only remaining option is to defame political opponents as enemies and to disregard democratic conventions. This is only possible at the very lowest level of argumentation, of lies, of refusal to listen to the other or of actually silencing the other, and of the exaltation of outdated conceptions of strength and masculinity.
Instead, we need a strong womanhood characterized by virtues that are usually more strongly developed among women than among men, which are demanded of women or that they develop under duress but which are suppressed among men, because of which women are regarded as weak and because of the absence of which men are regarded as strong and powerful, because of which women can often be easily exploited. Without a much stronger development and appreciation of such virtues – among all people – our civilization will collapse.
What are these womanly virtues? Among them are the abilities to
feel empathy with of other people and living things, and therefore to take care of them,
listen to other people carefully enough to really understand them, even if their views conflict with one’s own, and to search for solutions that do justice to the needs of these other people,
endure one’s own weakness, fear, anxiety, sadness and other difficult feelings, and to find solutions instead of suppressing those feelings by means of displays of bravado, and pushing off the problems onto other people,
pursue a goal in full awareness of one’s own limitations, even if this goal is hard to achieve and no wealth, power or fame beckons if it is achieved.
We need these kind of strength of will, courage and empathy in order to attain the next stage of civilization. Men should model themselves on women who have proven that they have such virtues. Of course, men can find these virtues in themselves, because there are feminine qualities in every man and masculine qualities in every woman. C. G. Jung called the feminine aspect of a man his anima, the masculine aspect of a woman her animus. The full development of every human being includes the development of these qualities of the “other” gender.
Women in business, in politics, in leadership positions face the demand to develop their masculine qualities, to impose their will, to not be too sensitive, to stand up “like a man.” Even visually they are expected to appear similar to men, for example by wearing women’s suits. After all, it continues to signify a rise in status to be like a man rather than like a woman. And unfortunately, women leaders continue to face the expectation that they suppress their “feminine” aspects.
It is time to reverse expectations. Men should assimilate to women, develop their feminine aspects – especially if they are in leadership positions! A man (or a woman) who lacks empathy and the skill to listen carefully, who is too intent on his own advantage and ignores the needs of others, should be considered unqualified for leadership roles. Institutional structures should be designed such that intelligent people who take care of others and can empathize with them, who are concerned about the welfare of all people and life forms, advance to leadership positions. Those people who have inadequately developed these capacities should not rise to leadership positions so as not to endanger the organization, but they should be supported in their efforts to grow as human beings.
In order to survive the current crisis of our civilization, we need to design our institutions such that people rise to responsible positions who are able and willing to take responsibility for the effects of their actions on other people and living things, and who have developed their feminine and masculine qualities in a balanced way. Thus, values and institutions can change in concert.