A Public Service Message from the American Income Life Insurance Co. Waco, Texas Bernard Rapoport, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer Sharing The Chalice BY BERNARD RAPOPORT The American people are a glorious people. Never was this statement more demonstrably affirmed than in the spontaneous welcome that Americans gave to President Gorbachev. He ingratiated himself when he would stop his limousine and get out and mix with the crowd. They were saying to him, “We want peace, we think you want peace, we welcome you! We are glad you are here!” In summation, they were communicating they were willing to accept him at face value. When he said he wanted peace more than anything, they responded. “We believe you!” It is always interesting to observe that the populace is never as incompetent as politicians presume. I was a bit dismayed when I observed the meeting between the leaders of Congress and Mr. Gorbachev. In the leaders’ questions, they wanted to emphasize those areas which divided the two nations rather than focus on the multitude of issues in which both sides were in complete agreement. On the issue of Lithuania, Gorbachev explained cogently that the Soviets have a constitution and yes, Lithuania could become an independent nation, but there were constitutional requirements that had to be followed. The objection on the part of congressional leaders seems to indicate there is one set of rules for the Russians and another set for Americans. When the nations of the world were almost unanimous against our being involved in the war in Vietnam or even in the invasion of Panama, we said, “It is none of your business.” Yet we are presumptuous enough to ask another nation to violate its constitution and abide by what we deem their action should be.’ On one of the Sunday programs following the summit, the Brinkley show, some of the commentators were demeaning the meeting, saying that no serious issues were resolved. Listening to them, I came to the conclusion that they accept as their province not to assess a situation in totality, but rather to only emphasize the negative aspects. The truth is this: the greatest result of that summit, the most important and what is so singularly meaningful is the fact that community has been established between two great nations. There is sincere dialogue. It seems as if just yesterday there was only divergent and apparently irreconcilable viewpoints. Remarkably now we are at a point where Mr. Gorbachev can go to Washington and Minneapolis and effect several business arrangements with some of America’s great industrial companies, and then move on to San Francisco and do the same. Why isn’t that considered to be a miracle? Why shouldn’t we all be joyous that we have the best opportunity for peade ever? Much credit goes to Mr. Gorbachev and yes, to President Bush, too. Our President is not being swayed by that element in our society that seeks any excuse to promote militarism and expansion of the military effort. The opportunity for significant reductions is not only possible, but provides an opportunity to divert resources to other much-needed areas some of which have been neglected for far too long, and most especially our allocation of resources for education. I was recently introduced to a book entitled The Chalice and the Blade by Riane Eisler. It is one of the most significant books I have read in a long time. She points out that underlying the diversity of human culture are two basic models of society. She calls one the “dominator” model, which is indicative of a society that is characterized by patriarchy or matriarchy. The significance is, there is a ranking of one half of humanity over the other. Secondly, she describes a society in which social relations are primarily based on the principle of linking rather than ranking and she calls that the “partnership” model. She points out, obviously, that the differences in our species, to wit, male and female, are not equated with either inferiority or superiority. She reminds us that men have fought wars for thousands of years and the blade has been the male symbol. It has been idealized and both sexes have been taught to equate masculinity with violence and dominance and “to see men who do not conform to this idea as too soft and feminine.” This brought poignantly to mind that we are not in an inchoate stage so far as international relations. We ought to be far more advanced than the attitudes our leaders of Congress exhibited in that particular meeting to which I made reference. We need to emphasize more the chalice or the goblet and it seems to me that is what Mr. Gorbachev and Mr. Bush are seeking to do. I recognize the difficulty because there is no escape from the fact we are living in the dominator society, but what we know is it doesn’t have to be that way. There have been societies historically that have been partnerships or linking societies. We had in the very early 1920s an opportunity through President Wilson’s quest for American participation in the League of Nations. The dominator theory held, however, and Congress refused to acknowledge that America was, indeed, a part of the world. Just a few decades later, World War II ensued. World War III always lurks. We can thwart this unthinkable catastrophe. We are now presented with the greatest opportunity for peace in any of our lifetimes. Perhaps now it is time for all of us to read and reread Sophocles’s Antigone and remember the cry of the choir, “We were born not to share in hate, but to share in love.” 10 JUNE 15, 1990
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