I often write articles about consciousness, mind, and science. Usually, I try to paint the big picture, questioning the very way we see ourselves and the world around us. But over time, I'm seeing that if I'm going to write about a deeper perspective on life, I can't not write about the very real movements that are happening in the world around us. Awakening to life has to include awakening in and through life.
One of those very real movements is #MeToo. I've been watching it from afar, noticing it make its way through our society. I began to notice that it was making me silently uncomfortable. When I looked closely, I saw that I was avoiding it, as though it were coming after me. Why was I running?
I discovered two answers. The most important answer is that I am ashamed of my own boorish behavior in the past. I'm a father, husband, physician, explorer of life, and communicator. My blog is on topics that many would consider "spiritual." I write about consciousness and redefining what it means to be human. Being ashamed of my behavior didn't fit with that story. At least I didn't want it to fit.
The second answer is that I was running because I knew I had a responsibility to speak up. I was avoiding my responsibility.
This is a defining moment in our world culture. The power dynamic that has existed between men and women for much longer than I have been alive is starting to shift, like a massive see-saw that is starting to balance itself out. It's only the beginning. #MeToo will take many twists and turns, alternating speeds as it courses irrevocably forward in our personal and collective consciousness. All the discomfort and pain that women have been through over the centuries will surface, and men will unavoidably witness and feel it.
What does that mean for us now? Women have boldly started speaking up, and it's time for men to do so as well. This is no time for simply "supporting the #MeToo movement." It's not the time to try and stand aside as the current sweeps by. That's not gonna work anyway. It's time for action. That action begins with being intimate with one's own past, and through those lessons, speaking to the future. Just as women have had to overcome the paralysis of being ashamed to speak up, men too must overcome the paralysis of being too ashamed to look into our past.
When we look shame and fear in the face, something magical happens. They rush to the surface and leave us, energizing us to act creatively as we never have before. The power of shame is in its ability to have us look the other way. As long as we run, it has us by the throat. When we about face, it dare not remain.
What truly inspired and gave me the courage to write this article are the numerous conversations I've had with my wife over the years about this topic. Her profound insights have changed me for the better and helped me integrate all aspects of this experiment we call life, for which I am grateful to her. Finally, I'd also like to shine a spotlight on this article on #MeToo by Lili Loofbourow. It is one of the most astute articles (and rebuttals) I have ever read.
To all the women who are speaking up, and all the women who have yet to speak up, thank you. To all the men who have read this and felt something stir, thank you.
We shape the future with every action we shun, and every action we take.
Anoop Kumar, MD, MM is board certified in Emergency Medicine and holds a Master’s degree in Management with a focus in Health Leadership from McGill University. He practices in the Washington, DC metro area, where he also leads meditation gatherings for clinicians. He is the author of the book Michelangelo’s Medicine: How redefining the human body will transform health and healthcare. Follow him @DrAnoopKumar.