by Paula Angela DeCoito

The pale blue sky was their blackboard; the pearl white sand on the beach, their chairs. The soft rippling of the ocean, punctuated by the regular cries of the fuchsia seagulls, provided them with background music. Nirva addressed her students slowly, the rhythm of her voice blending harmoniously with the sounds surrounding her. As she spoke, she traced the form of a rose in the sand.

"The path towards equal opportunity for women on Earth was a path full of boulders. These gigantic formations were centuries old and firmly lodged in the path of our Earth mothers. Like twisted and jagged organic mutations from a despotic galaxy, these barriers to the full realization of women's energies protruded to colossal heights from the ground on which women had to walk. Beyond these monstrous barriers was a silver gate, a gate, to a new order of reality for our Earth mothers. In this new order, the distinct and precious energy of women was welcome and necessary for the maintenance and evolution of the life streams therein. Freedom to be, and to become, was the principal value of the new order. This freedom, however, was only possible for women once the silver gate of equal opportunity had been constructed. Building this gate was one of the most arduous tasks for our Earth mothers. "

Nirva paused as a seagull flew gently towards her arid landed softly beside her sandaled feet. "Travel a while more, my winged sister," she said to the little feathered one. Her students knew that this signaled the end of Nirva's usual poetic introduction to the history lesson of the day. Today, they were discussing popular notions of equality during the period of the Women's Revolution on Earth, 2000 years ago. Shedra would share her findings from the Earth records on the concept of equality. At the end of her presentation, her sisters and brothers would ask her questions, with Nirva acting as moderator. This much, they had retained from the academies of the Middle Earth Years before the Great Exodus to the planet of Lanello.

The seagull at Nirva's feet rose quietly into the morning air and very soon became a speck enmeshed in the flowing rays of the Lanello suns. Shedra looked at each person in the circle before she began.

"Two notions of equality were very prominent on Earth approximately 2000 years ago. One equated equality with sameness. The other, the different-but-equal perspective, recognized that while humans were similar in many respects, each was unique and different from the others. An intriguing aspect of these two notions of equality is their reflection of the Earth values of unity and preservation; diversity and change.

"Both concepts of equality, and the belief in an all-knowing, all-powerful supreme being, are present in the major creation myths of our Earth ancestors. Humankind was the creation of this being. Humans were not the same as the creator, hence they were not God's equal. Here, equal means sameness. On the other hand, humans insofar as they were all created by God, were alike with respect to their common source of origin and were equal to each other.

"It did not follow, however from the fact that God made all humans, that there are not differences among humans. Humans can be the same with respect to the source of origin and, at the same time, each human can be unique with respect to her form and potency. Hence the second meaning of equality - different yet equal. Here, differences pertain to the individual human and sameness, to their common origin as creations of a supreme being.

"These two viewpoints of equality are present in the creation myth of an old Earth religion, Judaeo-Christianity. In this myth, God the creator made man in his own image. Then, after making man, he made woman - also in his own image - from the rib of the man. The God-created man and woman were not the equals of God. This was symbolized in many ways in the myth. For example, God lived in heaven which was above Earth where humans lived. God gave orders to the man and woman, which they had to obey or perish. While they were not the same as God, the man and woman were equal to each other with respect to their shared relationship with God and insofar as they were both created in God's image.

Yet, they were different from each other with respect to their manifestation or appearance in time and with respect to their form in space. Man appeared on Earth before woman, and woman was made by God from the rib of man. Man was not so created. These differences between man and woman were in turn causally connected to a common source, the creator God, who made man and woman in his own image. God, then, was the source of both sameness and diversity.

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