We don't have to wait for hardship in our own lives to awaken. We can use what's happening in the world around us to teach us about our emotional health and spiritual maturation.
I saw an interview recently with Maria Shriver and Chelsea Handler that left me feeling uneasy. Chelsea Handler is a comedian, actress, writer, television host and producer known for her crass humor. Maria Shriver comes from the Kennedy family, is a former first lady of CA and journalist, and was married to the Terminator.
In the interview, Chelsea admits to sleeping with some of her guests, and talks more about her irreverent style of journalism.
Handler's antics are extreme. No doubt. But what strikes me even more about this interview that Shriver, to her 2 M followers, calls "Journalism Tips with Maria Shriver," is how judgmental and unkind Shriver is towards Handler. And I don't even think Shriver sees it.
The comments that follow include ones like "Chelsea is a slut! Maria is a lady!" And the like.
Shriver believes herself to be *teaching* Handler a lesson on class, and what it means to be a lady and journalist. What stuck with me is how we see Handler feeling embarassment and shame during the interview, feelings we've certainly all known at different points in our lives.
Handler's antics aside, I found the biggest lesson I learned from watching this clip that Shriver offers as her "teaching another example to #movehumanityforward," is of what happens when we don't see our own blindspots. I find this kind of socially normalized, holier-than-though treatment of "other" because of differing views, behaviors, etc., is one of the great ills of our culture today. We saw this in extreme form during the pandemic.
At AWAKEN we talk about the power of archetypes. THE WHORE is a powerful archetype so potently represented in this exchange between the two women. And I am not talking literally, here. The archetype of the whore represents giving yourself away for a greater cause, or for money.
We've all been THE WHORE at different points in our lives. Perhaps we've stayed at a soul sucking job for too long because the money was good or essential for our family. Or maybe we've volunteered for a cause far more than we wanted to because it gave us good feelings or social clout. Or maybe we've stayed in a marriage for money because we're scared we couldn't do it on our own. Or maybe we've slept with someone, or many people to gain status, or to feel our own power. Or perhaps used our family's name, status, or money to get ahead.
No matter, THE WHORE is somewhere in all of us. Like every other archetype, she has something important to teach us. The whore, specifically, about our own sovereignty.
Furthermore, though Shriver believes herself to be teacher here, we cannot always say who is the teacher, and who is the student. These are not fixed roles. A teacher who believes she is always the one to impart wisdom on the student has forgotten a fundamental precept of education: in true education that justly "moves humanity forward," student and teacher are one and the same, interchangeable and fluid, both learning from each other at every moment.
Pedagogy is a dance, an exchange, an opportunity to evolve ourselves, not a hierarchy based on one person's narrow views predicated on their background and conditions. If Shriver could get outside of herself and become aware of how she's making another human feel, she would leave with a very important lesson. It's Chandler, here, who offers Shriver a chance to see herself (though she doesn't take it).
No doubt, like all of us, both women have had their own hills to climb. But Shriver comes from a place of privilege and uses judgement, condescension, and shame as her tools here, even if subtly. "Here, allow me to show you how to be a lady," or how to "do journalism correctly."
Handler, here, seems to represent everyone who has ever been "other-ed," the dark side, the rest of the world who didn't grow up in near American royalty.
Using power to slut-shame another and then joke about it seems like a gross misuse of authority. We need no more examples of women shaming other women, no matter the reason.
My aim is not to blast Shriver, of course. Shriver certainly teaches us something. Though, I would argue it's not journalistic in nature. This blog is about turning the gaze inward on ourselves. The lesson this video teaches is that we ALL have blindspots. Every last one of us, no matter how regal, accomplished, or revered. And being able to recognize, then own our own blindspots is markedly more important than pointing out weaknesses in another. The moment we think we know more, are better, smarter, more ethical, etc., is the moment when we've lost site of the truth.
These questions will help you identify your own blind spots:
Who, in your life, are you judging?
Who do you think you're "better than," though you wouldn't admit it publicly.
What is the reason? Is it because you're wealthier? More educated? More spiritual? Have a *better* family? Are in a stable relationship? Find out this reason, because this is your Achilles Heel, your blind spot, so to speak.
With this information, you're far more well equipped to do the real work of "moving humanity forward," which in my opinion, begins and ends with taking responsibility for our emotions and our treatment of others, despite how our opinions and behaviors may differ. Kindness and humility are the enduring marks of class.
As Laotzu says: “All streams flow to the sea because it is lower than they are. Humility gives it its power. If you want to govern the people, you must place yourself below them. If you want to lead the people, you must learn how to follow them."
Stay humble, stay kind,