Since our subject is Politics, Spirituality, and the Feminine, I will start with politics. I was born in Vienna, but my parents and I had to flee from the Nazis. We were fortunate to get to Cuba on one of the last ships of Jewish refugees permitted to land there. I was seven at the time, and growing up in Havana I became conscious of politics. Not only of the European politics that had almost killed me, but of Cuban politics. Because, at that time in Cuba, politics were very violent. Different student factions gunned each other down on the streets, and people were killed by the government. That convinced me that violence is not the way to achieve social justice.

In those early years of my life, I also began to develop my own view of spirituality. Every night I prayed to God for our relatives left behind in Europe. After World War II ended, I saw the newsreels of the Nazi concentration camps, and found out that most of those left behind—my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins—had been brutally killed. That was when God died for me. But there was always in my life spirituality in the sense of putting love into action. So spirituality for me is not so much otherworldly, but about what we do right here on Earth.

This takes me to the feminine, because the love and caring that for me lies at the core of real spirituality has stereotypically been thought of as “soft” or “feminine." So it's been given a great deal of lip service, but—along with women and "effeminate” men—barred from social governance.