Love in Action – Valentine’s Day with Sakena Yacoobi

I had the best Valentine’s Day this weekend. Stay with me, this is totally work-related. On Saturday, I attended the women’s spirituality conference Sacred Circles, and this year’s theme was Love in Action. Tanenbaum Peacemaker Sakena Yacoobi of Afghanistan raised a standing ovation as she spoke about… reaching 350,000 women and children with literacy, vocational training and more. The transformations happen, Sakena says, because “love is pushing us in the same direction.”

Elizabeth Lesser, co-founder of the Omega Institute and another of my favorite fabulous women, named Sakena a “genius” of interpersonal relations and a “noble laureate of emotional intelligence.” Part of Elizabeth’s work, recently featured on Oprah, is to remind us of our multiple forms of intelligence, i.e. not just the logical/mathematical kind measured in IQ tests. In my notebook during her plenary, I starred reference to a study that found women more likely than men to demonstrate multi-intelligence. What was compelling to me was the next fact: However, in a pre-study interview, men predicated that they would score higher than the participating women in the test, and the women predicted that they would score lower than the men.  

I can hardly say that I was surprised. In fact, I was reminded of why Tanenbaum started its Women’s Peace Initiative: men were being disproportionately nominated for our Peacemakers in Action award. Most disturbing, talented women fully deserving the award themselves were nominating their male colleagues. So no, I was not surprised by Elizabeth’s citation, but I am tired of this state of affairs. Perhaps that’s why I was so grateful for the energy gathered by 1300 compassionate women, including Karen Armstrong, Elizabeth and Sakena.

I have to say that I felt very proud to work for an organization that helped to raise the profile of Sakena Yacoobi and thus helped to make possible her appearance this weekend at the National Cathedral. Her example causes ripples around the world because she embodies love in action.