Honoring Other Narratives

For Women’s History Month, I interviewed women of various backgrounds who are making changes for themselves and others as they use their voices and make their dreams come true.  They included: 

Zilka Joseph – an Indian American and Bene Israel poet whose new book, “Our Beautiful Bones,” was nominated for a PEN and Pushcart prize. Watch the interview

Zoe Moore – an independent Hospitality EDI Strategic Consultant who engages leaders of organizations through her speaking, writing, educational courses and consulting. Watch the interview 

Vicki Dobbs – the founder of Wisdom Evolution and head cheerleader for The You First Revolution. Watch the interview

Natally Boutros –  a first-generation Chaldean American born Actress who was raised in Michigan and co-stars in my upcoming feature film, “Pomegranate.” Watch the interview

Some time ago I was looking for a quote on the freedom of speech, and I came across this:

“I may not agree with what you have to say,

but I will defend to death your right to say it.”

I thought this quote, cited as something written by the French writer and philosopher Voltaire, was perfect! As I dug a little deeper, however, I discovered that the quote was actually misattributed to Voltaire. “Again?!” I thought to myself. This is not the first time a quote written by a woman was attributed to a man. The phrase is that of an English author named Evelyn Beatrice Hall. She wrote it in her book “Friends of Voltaire” (1906) as she imagined what Voltaire might have thought.  

This powerful phrase not only shows the importance of the First Amendment, our right to freedom of speech, but it’s interesting how sometimes we take a quote, a history, a narrative and run with it – only to discover years or decades or thousands of years later that it is not entirely true. A good example of this are the legendary women of ancient Mesopotamia, whose stories were buried, literally, until archaeologists began to dig them up in the 1900s. 

One such story that emerged was that of Enheduanna, who historians now recognize as the first writer in recorded history.  She is dubbed the “Shakespeare of Sumerian literature” and wrote and taught about three centuries before the earliest Sanskrit texts, 2000 years before Aristotle, and 1,700 before Confucius. Yet hardly anyone has heard of her, aside from those historians that take the accuracy of history seriously. What a missed opportunity for our educational system not to be aware of Enheduanna’s works and include them, like Shakespeare, into their curriculum. 

I wrote extensively about Enheduanna and other ancient women and goddesses of that region in my book, “Mesopotamian Goddesses: Unveiling Your Feminine Power.”

This disk was found in the temple of Nanna's consort, Nin-gal (Great Lady), and dates to around 2300 BCE. It depicts Enheduanna, the world's first recorded author, daughter of Sargon of Akkad and high priestess of the moon god at Ur.
This disk was found in the temple of Nanna’s consort, Nin-gal (Great Lady), and dates to around 2300 BCE. It depicts Enheduanna, the world’s first recorded author, daughter of Sargon of Akkad and high priestess of the moon god at Ur. 

We can use our efforts to silence peoples’ voices, but it will return in different forms and be ten times more powerful. Or we can learn to listen, to truly listen to others, to the sun and the moon, and to our animals. Listening is not a chance to interject own views, or to force or manipulate someone to think, speak, or act the way we perceive is “correct.” Our views and feelings are not always “correct.” There is a lot in the universe that we can learn from, but we won’t be able to do that, to grow and evolve, if we prevent others from speaking, and instead constantly interject our rights and wrongs. 

When we truly listen, we give ourselves an opportunity to hear the things we are afraid of, so that we may heal ourselves and those around us, so that we may transform our relationships and experiences into something beautiful. 

Exercise: 

Choose someone you disagree with and write down ten of their good qualities. If your mind automatically jumps to, “This person doesn’t have ten good qualities, no way!” Ask yourself what are you resisting? Why are you afraid to look at their other side?  

After you do that, write ten things you dislike about yourself and why. When you complete that list, decide how you will change at least one of those ten things so that you can live a healthier lifestyle – physically, emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually. 

This exercise will help you realize that each of us has a lifetime of work on ourselves let alone trying to change someone else. In focusing on what we are thinking, saying, and doing, we are listening to the most important person – ourselves – and then we will have mastered the art of listening to others. 

Each one of us has an inner power which can be honored through listening. True listening involves actively paying attention to the words and sounds that you hear, to absorb their meaning and understand the speaker’s narrative and story.

Check out my YouTube channel to learn about this week’s guest, who I’ll be interviewing live. Subscribe to my channel and set reminders/alerts so you can stay updated on Live and uploaded content.

We are celebrating Arab American Heritage Month during April.

Here’s the guest line-up for April:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s