We are celebrating Women’s History Month this year with images that inform and empower, and often, when you learn the backstory, piss you off. On social media we will be using the hashtag #WHM18 on our posts so you can follow along.
I personally adore this image from the program of the Suffrage Procession. It is so proud and positive. White, purple, and gold were what we would today call the pallet of the brand of women’s suffrage. The image movement is forward or to the right. The banners, regalia, and horse signify strength and determination.
You can find out more of the specifics of the Women’s Suffrage Procession, including the entirety of the procession pamphlet, at the Library of Congress (LOC).
The LOC page about the Procession presents a good amount of information from before and after the event, including the assault on the march by men in town for the inauguration of Woodrow Wilson the next day. Hundreds were harmed, and in a vein similar to many current day protests and marches in the U.S., the police stood by and did little to protect the marchers and seemed to enjoy the actions and rudeness directed at the women. “One policeman explained that they should stay at home where they belonged.” Personal and group opinion with law enforcement determining which laws to enforce and interpreting the law for themselves has a long history. But the Chief of the Capitol Police lost his job, and in a backlash against the harassment and violence directed toward the women marchers the movement was re-energized and gained followers thanks to the press coverage of the attack.
This recording from 1958 certainly suggests that the “movement” did not end with the women’s vote and begin again only with the women’s movement of the 1960s and 1970s. The suffragettes are better referred to as suffragists. The struggle continues.
A prompt in this month’s NaBloPloMo challenge involves writing about collective service actions and whether you feel you have changed the world. The actual challenge (for tomorrow, but who is looking at the calendar anyway) is:
Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Have you ever felt as if you changed the world?
It’s a Wonderful Life immediately popped into my mind’s eye upon reading this prompt. While I am an anthropologist and could have talked about Margaret Mead, Gregory Bateson, and their daughter Mary Catherine Bateson and social and systems theory ad infinitum, the film says it all and that is one of the reasons it has become an American classic.
The sum of the parts is much greater than the whole. There is a connectivity between people, and elements in any system, that is more than just what the people bring to the situation. It is elusive and we never know exactly what that added complexity, energy, whatever, really is.
For George Bailey in the Capra movie, we see that small, incidental changes can change the course of the lives of the people involved and extend far beyond to the character and well-being of whole communities. Donna Reed and Jimmy Stewart were just playing characters in a screen play, but we all want to believe that the equivalent of breaking a window in an abandoned house can nudge the universe just a little bit toward the wish we make as the glass breaks.
The ubiquitous human belief in serendipity, synchronicity, and magical thinking all relate to the feeling that people experience from time to time that something beyond ourselves is influencing our behaviors or encounters. I believe that when we feel these things we are actually perceiving a change at other levels of our biological and cultural systems that impinge upon the perceptual levels and processes of which we are normally aware.
For anyone who wants to read about such things without delving into bio-semiotic literature, metaphysics, or systems theory literature, dependent upon what explanatory systems you prefer, I recommend reading The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, if you are not already familiar with it, as his coverage of how little nudges can trigger massive cultural change presents the phenomena in a clear and engaging manner.
So all this is lead up to the huge, “Yes.” I have to utter in response to the blogging prompt. My simple existence on this planet has changed the world in ways I will never know. Some of my efforts have changed things in ways I like, some of them have backfired.
For example, one of the ways I have changed things, with the efforts of others, is in the peace actions in which I participated as a member of CodePink. While I haven’t been active for a couple of years, I know that I helped bring the group to Arizona in 2004 and that the women I worked with back then have dramatically impacted the peace movement at a state and national level. I didn’t do that much, but they did, and I was the link. Might it have happened another way, sure. But I look at Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledging the presence and validity of CodePink Co-founder Medea Benjamin’s protests at the hearings today on Capital Hill and I know that many women from all over the country came together to get the message out that there is a quite sizable percentage of Americans who believe as much effort should be expended in planning peace as we expend in planning for and creating war.
ONCE A COMMON DANGER
When I was young measles was one of the “childhood diseases” that every person seemed to get sooner or later. For me it was later and I remember having a very nasty couple of weeks with it in the 7th or 8th grade. There was a distinct scent associated with the disease that was not pleasant, I was covered, head to toe, inside and out with the rash. I had a high fever. It lasted for days and days and days. A half a million people a year got the measles when I was a kid. Before the recent anti-vaccination movement the number of cases per year, in the U.S., was down to 63.
Complications that can develop from the measles includes: otitis media
I think we have forgotten how dangerous such diseases are.
I cannot imagine forgoing the immunization for my child. My daughter was among the last, I hope, to have chicken pox as the immunization became available the year after she contracted the disease. Thank heavens she had a mild case of chicken pox and that she did not have to experience the measles, mumps, or rubella.
I understood there was a possibility that reactions to immunization could happen. I also understood that the risk factors for having the diseases was greater than the risk factors associated with immunization. Being a bit of a science nerd I checked out the facts in the university library where I worked when my daughter was little. Now with access to government information finding out facts is so simple that I don’t understand why parents don’t rely on legitimate medical information that is freely available.
STILL A DANGER
How serious is measles?
Measles can be dangerous, especially for babies and young children. In the United States in 2011, 38% of children younger than 5 years old who had measles had to be treated in the hospital.
For some children, measles can lead to pneumonia, a serious lung infection. It can also cause lifelong brain damage, deafness, and even death. One to three out of 1,000 children in the U.S. who get measles will die from the disease, even with the best care. About 150,000 to 175,000 people die from measles each year around the world—mostly in places where children do not get the measles vaccine.
—- This information is from the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention.)
In fact the ongoing outbreak in Texas is traced to an individual who developed the disease after coming back from Indonesia.
153 people contracted the measles so far in the U.S. this year. The 20+ individuals from the current Texas outbreak is expected to grow.
Around 20 years ago standard immunization schedules began to include a second shot for measles, and MMR booster, for 4-5 year old children as a follow-up to the first shot received around 12 months of age. Individuals who only received one immunization are probably still susceptible to contracting the measles. Chief epidemiologist for the Tarrant County Public Health Department, Russell Jones, told UPI that, “People who [have] already graduated from high school probably missed the second shot,” Jones added. “If they are healthcare workers or traveling abroad, they need to get that second shot.” The 21st person identified as having the measles in the Texas community was a healthcare worker who received one shot only before the current schedule for 12 months and 4 to 5 years became routine.
Health officials say all cases trace to the Eagle Mountain International Church in Newark, Texas.
Please let me make it clear that I am not church bashing (well, okay, maybe a little bit when it comes to those institutions that deny scientific findings and insist in the literal divine truth of the current translation of documents that have been edited, rewritten, excised, and created by men, politically motivated men for the most part, for two millennia) just ignorance bashing. There is a trend in many distinct communities in the U.S. to blame immunizations for the rise in cases of autism.
Immunization does not cause autism. You can read the CDC information that debunks the dangerous popular myth that links them. Unfortunately, due to one UK study that has since been retracted by the journal and by most of its authors that published the research findings that suggested that autism might be related to immunization. Hundreds of other studies have found no linkage between the two. The single most common reason the false causation continues to be believed in and spread as truth in many groups is that the age at which immunizations begin and the age at which the symptoms of autism first appear are the same. We do not know why the rates of autism have grown exponentially, but my own totally unscientific suspicions would be far more likely to fall upon environmental pollutants such as insecticides, pesticides, drugs, metals, and fertilizers that make their way into our water supplies though they are known to be toxic and in many cases neurotoxic.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
- Get the facts. Click the CDC links above.
- Get your children immunized per your pediatrician’s advice.
- Check with your physician to see if you need a second shot if you don’t know if you were immunized and did not have the measles.
- Encourage others to act from informed positions and act in their children’s best interests per the best scientific information available to us.
- Support the efforts of Shot@Life and its Partners.
The current outbreak of measles in a Texas community unfortunately illustrates where group-think based in ignorance, power over children to the detriment of those children, and ridicule of non-believers that keeps members in check can lead. I wrote about this yesterday in conjunction with Shot@Life, an international campaign to vaccinate and immunize the world’s children. Today I rant about some of the issues behind the self-imposed ignorance and blindness that is a type of medical child abuse.
Cycles and patterns intrigue me. If we don’t know what is likely to occur, how can we know when something truly different emerges. Scientific knowledge comes about through the understanding of cycles and patterns and the ability to replicate what we understand.
Ignorance, and all things superficial, may be hot commodities, as per reality TV and conspiracy theory politics, but the market for them will bottom out as the value of knowledge gains respect again. Respect is nearly always tied to the realization of the need for something. Respect for parents comes about eventually with the realization that home, food, education and clothing are not guaranteed in all situations. Respect for community comes about when a cultural support system is needed and not present. Many people I know stay in communities with which they have major disagreements and value differences because they cannot imagine life without a ready-made support net. I was different, I left the support structures of family and small town community before I was even 20 years old because the cost of conformity was just too high to pay. Curse or gift, I cannot block out all the things I see around me. Politics, religion, sexuality, these were all things to which people just don’t give much thought. Like all things in life we have to have to strike a balance.
But me, I had to know why the Republicans of the middle 19th Century had more in common with the Democrats of the mid-20th Century than 20th Century Republicans. I wanted to know how and why people allowed a radical woman-inclusive, egalitarian, peace-oriented, religious movement that began 2000 years ago among the poor, landless underclass to become hierarchical, steeped in ritual celebration that showcases wealth and prestige, and linked to the imperial military aspirations of Constantine. I had to figure out how, if not why, women had been imprisoned by cultural roles that allowed only two states of being: mother or whore, when the eons had allowed for the intricate linkage of pleasure and creation for both sexes. The status quo was built on lies.
I have found that most people will admit that the status quo is a made up of at least some bogus constructs to some degree when I speak with them in a one to one setting. But put everyone together out in public and we get mob mentality with the most animalistic attributes celebrated:
- Ignorance (lack of and scorn of a complete education)
- Aggression (the overpowering of those at a disadvantage in particular situations)
- Derision (contemptuous ridicule based on mockery and not a logical critique)
When I see any of these characteristics in people or movements, I take it as a warning to stay the hell away.
The most I could do is provoke or wound someone. A wounded person is a dangerous animal and when cornered, that wounded person will attack to save him or herself just as would a wild animal. We ARE animals; we are made of flesh, have emotions that motivate our actions, and have a tendency to guard our territories through violent actions.
I believe that through collective action we move toward goals. Attempts to force change or compliance will eventually fail. We cannot create exactly what we envision, but we can move toward that ideal.
It is only through logic, knowledge, and love that we can overcome our animalistic tendencies. For me, and for those many I have met in life and recognized as kindred spirits, in churches, at protests, at conferences and recognized, sometimes with no more than a flash of recognition in our eyes acknowledged with a smile across some random room or street, we choose to define ourselves with positive states such as learning, kindness, and compliment; but when society breaks down we sometimes have to step back and check our own actions to see if we are open to learning or are cloaking ourselves in ignorance, if we are overpowering others when we can, or if we ridicule others rather than commenting upon our sameness.
Live your faith, your beliefs, I have certainly have mine that I try to have guide my actions, but use every bit of knowledge to which we humans have access, and for God’s sake do not deny your children access to the knowledge and wisdom we have accumulated over the eons. Have the grace to grant every person the right to live as an educated, respected member of your community. Allow them to act in love based on information through the free will that “the great organizing principle in the sky” gave them.
Tomorrow I retreat from ranting and get back to facts about measles and immunizations.
I’m writing this as a reminder to myself and others about what we as a people, as humanity, know, and what we should act upon. This post started out as a rant, but the rant will be in Part 2 as tomorrow’s post, and the action item is today’s post.
The outbreak of measles in a Texas community unfortunately illustrates where group-think based in ignorance, power over children to the detriment of those children, and ridicule of non-believers that keeps members in check can lead.
There are a few more days left in this month to participate in Shot@Life which my friend Lois Alter Mark superbly summarized at Midlife at the Oasis while highlighting the work of two women bloggers I also admire:
This month – Blogust, as it should forever be known from now on – Shot@Life is taking that philosophy literally. Thirty-one well-known bloggers, including my friends Chloe Jeffreys and Darryle Pollack, are writing special posts, and Walgreens will donate a vaccine to a child in need for every comment posted on those stories during August.
Go sign-up and comment on today’s post and then come back and read my rant which follows about ignorance and arrogance, that by the way is not only found in mega churches, but also in lock step political groups, and even new age spirituality groups I’ve encountered. Closed-mindedness is dangerous no matter where it is found.
Blogust coinciding with the measles outbreak is a synchronicity we could have lived without.
143 years ago this proclamation was issued by a woman to women. Most histories trace the current practice of celebrating Mother’s Day back to Ms. Howe. The journey has been one of proclamation, obscurity, resurrection, and then platitudes and commercialization.
Mother’s Day Proclamation
Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts,
whether our baptism be that of water or of fears!
Say firmly: “We will not have great questions decided by
irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking
with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be
taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach
them of charity, mercy and patience.
We women of one country will be too tender of those of another
country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From
the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says “Disarm, Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance
Blood does not wipe our dishonor nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons
of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a
great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women,
to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the
means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each
bearing after their own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
but of God.
In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a
general congress of women without limit of nationality may be
appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at
the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the
alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement
of international questions, the great and general interests of
Julia Ward Howe
From Wikipedia: After the war she focused her activities on the causes of pacifism and women’s suffrage. In 1870 she wrote her Mother’s Day Proclamation. It was a “Mother’s Day for Peace”, asking women from the world to join for world’s peace. In 1872, she asked that “Mother’s Day” be celebrated on the 2nd of June. Her efforts were not successful, and by 1893 she was wondering if the 4th of July could be remade into “Mother’s Day”. From 1872 to 1879, she assisted Lucy Stone and Henry Brown Blackwell in editing Woman’s Journal.