The Feminist Values of the Foundation for a Compassionate Society
(Excerpt)

The Foundation for a Compassionate Society was created in 1987 as part of an attempt to practice feminist values of care and creativity on a social scale as a way to peace for all. Many of the institutions of our present society are based on the patriarchal values of hierarchy, competition and ego-enhancing short term profit for the few. The values of care are considered merely private, unrealistic, or the idiosyncrasy of the inferior, non-standard gender. The patriarchal ideal of the isolated individual asserting his/her superiority denying the source of his/her good in others' care, relegates the 'others' to a category of subservience.

Gender, race, age, physical ability, are biological factors which are socially interpreted as reasons for such categorizations. Social factors such as nationality, education, or wealth are also interpreted to justify the 'right' of some to profit at the expense of others. The privileging of a category, which begins with the privileging of males over females discounts the attention to needs which is necessary for the survival of all. The many are kept 'barefoot and pregnant', dependent upon the hierarchies in power. Scarcity is created by spending the world's wealth on armaments - which are not part of the nurturing economically - and indeed constitute a constant drain upon it. (Every week 18 billion dollars is spent world wide on the military - enough to feed every one on earth for a year). Such macroscopic situations are ignored by most of us because they are difficult to imagine and we are not used to thinking in terms of systems. Instead we attribute poverty to the 'lacks' or 'incapacity' of individuals, not recognizing the interconnections between wealth and poverty, the social mechanisms which over-privilege some and under privilege many.

Young children require care in order to survive, and thus they must elicit caring behavior from the society. Males have traditionally been taught that caring behavior was not appropriate to their gender. Indeed from their earliest days we have socialized males to be different from their care-giving mothers. This alienation of half of humanity from the nurturing standard has been the basis of a non-nurturing - indeed exploitative system - which is now depleting the earth and all her children to the dubious advantage of a few.

It has become clear through the world wide women's movement that "male" activities, from building construction to bank presidencies, are due not to a biological but to a cultural role assignment. Similarly, need-oriented, nurturing behavior can be engaged in successfully by biological males. A new understanding regarding institutions is also in order. Presently our institutions uphold "male" non nurturing patriarchal values which promote the privileging of "superior" categories and individuals. However the institutions are themselves nurtured by the underprivileged groups and individuals in various ways. A good example is provided by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund which give "aid" to poor countries in return for their political and economic subservience.

The Foundation for a Compassionate Society has tried to create nurturing institutions within the range of its possibilities. Foundation on- going care- and truth-giving projects, including two retreat centers, long-term media projects and facilities for teaching media technology, create a reference point for values which oppose Patriarchy. The Foundation changed reality by practicing in the public sphere the caring that Patriarchy usually considers non systemic and captures within the family. Meanwhile, the women of the Foundation have done much important work locally, nationally, and internationally, work which opposes war and arms spending, the nuclear industry, the racist, classist, or nationalist domination of groups by other groups, the economic and military invasion of the Southern countries by the countries of the North. Some of the women have devoted their time to creating channels for bringing the truth and alternative viewpoints to the public. Others have worked to uncover the connection between nuclear radiation, breast cancer and other diseases. Most of us support the movements which work for alternative spirituality, reclaiming ancient ways in connection with Mother Earth.

The Foundation's purpose is not paternalistic charity but the creation of systemic social change to make the society itself compassionate. The road to peace is for humans to practice caring for the needs of all in a mothering way at a societal level rather than exploiting needs to the advantage of a few in a patriarchal way. The Foundation asks for your help so that this important work can continue.

--Genevieve Vaughan, Founder


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