Change is hard. That’s true when you’re talking about starting an exercise program, controlling your temper, working on a relationship, or, as I well know, wrangling your adorable children into picking up after themselves.
And it’s certainly true when it comes to rethinking a system. What I mean is that cultural systems are so vast, complex and embedded that they defy easy answers.
After all, how do you change something that just is?
So when it comes to overturning the unequal system of male privilege, the watch word must be baby steps. Baby steps are small yet significant. They are real and purposeful. At the risk of being a bit cliche, I’ll quote Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu:
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
For the guys in our seminar two weeks ago, baby steps include grieving the reality of an unjust patriarchal system, learning the stories of their female peers, displacing themselves and learning from women pastors and looking around them to understand the privilege they enjoy.
Baby steps. But vital ones.
This week two stories caught my eyes, two stories that may indicate that some baby steps are being taken. I say “may” because sometimes only time tells whether baby steps will lead to change.
First, the new pope made news for stressing the “fundamental” value of women in the church. In particular, he noted the presence of women as witnesses in the resurrection narrative. Here’s how one theologian interpreted the effect of his words in this article:
“The fact that the Pope acknowledges that the progressive removal of female figures from the tradition of the resurrection … is due to human judgments, distant from those of God…introduces a decidedly new element compared to the previous papacy.”
Staying in the world of religion, there were potential baby steps in the Mormon faith this past week, as Jean Stevens offered the closing prayer for the recent LDS general conference. According to this article, it was the first time that a woman has prayed in that important gathering.
Here’s hoping that these baby steps combine with others to produce wholesale change in these contexts.
And here’s also hoping that the baby steps we all take now will get us a thousand miles down the road one day.