Peace builder, author and three-time Nobel Peace Prize Nominee Dr Scilla Elworthy spoke on ‘Yin Intelligence in Action’ at eShe Indo-Pak Peace Summit Led by Women. She also answered questions from the audience.
Full video here:
Below are the main points from her speech:
© Dr Scilla Elworthy
Yin Intelligence is available equally to men as it is to women and all genders. Since it is grounded in the magnetic fields of Moon and Earth, it is often more accessible for those with a monthly reproductive cycle, which in turn can lead to the profoundly yin experience of birth and motherhood.
Learning to care for young children – now more widely practised by all genders – depends on and maximises a multitude of skills associated with Yin Intelligence. These include:
• Empathy maximises heart energy, balancing the rationality of the mind by connecting it with the more powerful (and measurable) frequencies of the heart. This develops a habit which allows a far greater width and depth of understanding – understanding of the other, of the self, and of the underlying emotive threads of any problem in question.
• Compassion goes one step further than empathy, in that it literally means “to suffer together.” It is the feeling that arises when you are confronted with the suffering of another, and feel motivated to relieve that suffering, to take action to help. Compassion embodies a tangible expression of love for those who are suffering.
• Deep listening is a key skill of Yin Intelligence. Giving another person your full attention is one of the greatest gifts you can give, and this attention needs to be such that you can sense the emotions behind the words. This means that in an argument you can move from your brain, which says: “I’m right and you’re wrong!” to your heart, which says: “Oh my goodness, is that how you feel….” Deep listening is a key skill in transforming conflicts. Listening as a quality of interaction is very close to intuition.
• Intuition is the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning. It is often felt as gut instinct, and because the body does not lie, it is reliable. Intuition is your immediate understanding of something. Trusting your intuition is the ultimate act of trusting yourself. The ‘gut brain’ evolved over thousands of years, producing evolutionary information which has largely been lost to those immersed in the digital age.
• Interconnectedness stems from the understanding that humans are interdependent with and inseparable from each other and our environment. It motivates an urge to nurture and protect the planet and her resources. Humans can mirror the self-organising rules of biological systems, and can learn from Eastern philosophies that consistently underline the interconnectedness of everything.
• Inclusivity is the quality that means ensuring that the marginalised – the ‘majority world’ of those without a voice – are brought into decision-making. This can mean, as in the case of Germany’s welcome of large numbers of refugees, confronting the anger of those who are afraid of diversity and would prefer to close borders and exclude those fleeing violence or persecution.
• Regeneration as a quality of Feminine Intelligence is based on the simple fact that the female body is in tune with reproduction and with the cycles of the moon. Indigenous leaders have long been telling us that decisions must be made not in the interests of the next quarterly figures but with the interests of the next seven generations in mind.
These are some of the qualities of Yin Intelligence, which have implications for policy development in the immediate present. For example:
• A Currency of Compassion, which assigns a proper value to the work of those who care for others. The pandemic demonstrated that carers are among the least well paid and least protected of all UK health workers. As well as being unjust, this is an absurdly unwise miscalculation.
• Economic policies based on abundance not scarcity. The natural world is the model to emulate. Think of the acorn – capable of providing habitat for hundreds of species over a lifetime of three centuries or more, and providing wood that lasts as many centuries. Every year, beneath every oak tree, there are thousands and thousands of acorns.
• Education in cooperation not competition. Education systems exist that avoid the current tendency to breed competitive behaviour in testing and exams in post-primary education.
• Teach children to grow vegetables. Any child over the age of four is captivated by what happens when a bean is put in a pot of compost and watered. Experiments during lockdown showed that children seize the opportunity, not only to grow their own food and eat it, but to commandeer their parents and any possible piece of ground or window box. What was then simply fun could be crucial to nourishment when supermarket shelves are empty, and deliveries impossible.
• Circular thinking comes easily to the Yin mind. Many an exasperated male will assure you that his partner or female colleague is incapable of linear reasoning. According to James Arbib and Tony Seba, linear reasoning is what has led to our present predicament, and has to go.
• Long-term sustainability is natural for child-bearing females, who are not interested in marketing their milk or their compassion, nor their care of children. Short-term profit is either irrelevant or not a priority when it comes to social stability.
• Decentralised, self-organising, and co-creative economies come naturally to those who have grown up in agricultural economies, where traditions favour collective working in order to bring in the harvest, get goods to market or share produce before it perishes.
• Yin Intelliegnce will be well placed to overcome or let go of the ‘power of incumbency’ – the influence of powerful groups and our dependency on current systems – if for no other reason than that the vast majority of women worldwide have never played an active part in power-holding groups and systems.
• Conflict skills. In disruption of the kinds envisaged by James Arbib and Tony Seba, the need for reliable training in conflict prevention, conflict transformation and decommissioning of weapons will become urgent.
Current examples of Yin Intelligence at work at national levels:
Early in the pandemic, examples of true leadership came from presidents and prime ministers of Iceland, Taiwan, Germany, New Zealand, Finland and Denmark, where women stepped up to show the world an attractive alternative way of wielding power, while keeping their national death tolls the lowest in the world.
Angela Merkel calmly asked the German public to “take it seriously” and they did. Testing began right from the get-go.
At the first sign of the new illness in January 2020, Tsai Ing-wen in Taiwan introduced 124 measures to block the spread without having to resort to the lockdowns that have become common elsewhere.
Norway’s Prime Minister, Erna Solberg, had the innovative idea of using television to talk directly to her country’s children, holding a dedicated press conference where no adults were allowed. She responded to kids’ questions from across the country, taking time to explain why it was OK to feel scared. The originality and obviousness of the idea takes one’s breath away.
How many other simple, humane innovations would more female leadership unleash? Is it not possible that Yin Intelligence could be the deciding factor in enabling decision-making to shift through the orders of magnitude that will be necessary in the immediate future?