When March was declared Women's History Month by Congress in 1987, our nation created an opportunity to celebrate women's past accomplishments and, perhaps more important, inspire their future. Because if there's any hope for grace in this world, it will surely come through the leadership of women.
Men have made messes of so many things -- that is what men do. And this particular man has had enough. So on this first day of Woman's History Month, I have a request for women everywhere.
Will you please take over?
I don't deny that some men are good at some things, but peace and harmony are not our strong suit. The big stories of life in this century are the stories of male violence, of men smiling and shaking hands with one another while civilization collapses into rubble around them.
Of course, women aren't perfect either. Not by a long shot. Some of you behave like the worst of men, gaming the system for personal power and prestige. But at least you don't have a thousand-year record of abject failure. You haven't started hundreds of wars. You haven't killed millions of innocent people. You haven't exploited the earth's resources. You haven't brutalized children.
Yet you have been complicit in all these things. You have been on the sidelines, watching it happen. You have let us men have our way. You have not taken charge. Not yet.
There are signs of change in the air. More than half of all college graduates in the United States are women. One in five wives makes more money than her husband. Women lead 30 percent of all households. There are more of you -- and you vote more often.
But it's not just about statistics. It's also about sensibilities and style. And it's about the simple fact that you are not men. You do things differently. I have no way of knowing whether you do them better, but you could not do them worse.
We've enjoyed the benefit of women's voices here in Orange County for years. In roles ranging from activists and entrepreneurs to elected officials at every level of government, you've stepped up to leadership, creating balance and pulling us toward the common good. Your influence has been felt. We need to feel it more.
One challenge, of course, is that men don't listen. We resist compromise. We fight. We do not cede power willingly -- which means you must take it. How to go about that, I haven't a clue. But whatever your path, be sure to watch your back. Men will do almost anything to preserve privilege. I know. I am one of them.
If you choose to take control -- and it is a choice -- I wish you the best. We have dug a very deep hole and it will be hard to climb out. You may find yourself slipping unaware into our old destructive patterns. You may be tempted to invoke our patriarchal gods. You could be seduced by the dark side of power. Please be careful.
And somewhere down the line, when you have the luxury of time to reflect, I hope you'll look back on these days and be inspired to declare Men's History Month. We men will need that opportunity to stop and wonder how we could have been so wrong for so long.
This column appeared in today's Chapel Hill News.