Reflections on Emily Green Balch

[Today I thought I would share an excerpt from my novel, “Letters from Eleanor Roosevelt” with you. To be clear, the letter is fictional, but the information within it about Emily Green Balch is historically accurate.]

As I was walking home, I thought about women I have known who have worked for peace, and my dear friend Emily Greene Balch came to my mind. In 1946, only a year after Franklin died, Emily was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. How I wish that Franklin had been in office to acknowledge Emily’s work. But Truman would have none of it. He regarded anyone involved with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom as too radical to cast their shadow across the doors of the White House.

Our dear Emily had more than her share of professional struggles. In 1919 she was on leave from Wellesley College and put in to extend her leave to continue her work with the International Congress of Women.  The Board of Trustees at Wellesley choose to terminate her contract instead. Eva, Emily was a popular professor and one of the more productive scholars on the faculty. But, I suspect she was a bit too outspoken an advocate of peace for those men. I suspect they were looking for an excuse to be rid of her.

Emily was disconsolate—for a moment. But then she marched herself to the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, much as I did with the American Association for the United Nations. WILPF elected her their secretary and treasurer, and she continued her work for peace with vigor, even though her health was declining.

Eva, as I remembered Emily, I wanted to reread her Nobel Prize Lecture, Toward Human Unity or Beyond Nationalism, which she delivered on April 7, 1948. Here are some of my favorite passages from that lecture.

She considered the unifying and divisive trends that she has observed in our world:

Not only democracy and the cult of humaneness mark our age, but also greed, violence, the self-adulation of national and racial groups, the fanaticism of political cults like fascism or Nazism, the glorification of might and power for their own sake, the blind reliance on violence as that before which all idealism is but a dissolving mist. All these things we know only too well.

She went on to discuss the peace movement in its individual and political efforts, its work to educate and to build institutions and to affect governmental action on concrete issues. I found great solace and direction in her concluding comments:

We are not asked to subscribe to any utopia or to believe in a perfect world just around the corner. We are asked to be patient with necessarily slow and groping advance on the road forward, and to be ready for each step ahead as it becomes practicable. We are asked to equip ourselves with courage, hope, readiness for hard work, and to cherish large and generous ideals.

I will enter this new chapter in my life with courage and hope, ready for hard work, open to joy where it may shine, cherishing the ideals of service and human rights based on respect for human dignity. . . .

With love, your affectionate friend,

Eleanor

Letters from Eleanor Roosevelt is available from Amazon

With thanks to Esther Lape

Esther Everett Lape was born on October 8, 1881 in Wilmington, Delaware and died on May 17 1981 in her home on East 57th Street in Manhattan. She lived a rich and full life, creating organizations that challenged and changed the world for the better and forming friendships with other women who also challenged and changed the world. Her circle of friends included her life partner Elizabeth Fisher Read, her lifelong friend Eleanor Roosevelt and other lesbian couples who were leaders in the Women’s Suffrage Movement such as Marion Dickerman and Nancy Cook, Molly Dewson and Polly Porter, Grace Hutchins and Anna Rochester.

Esther Lape was a professor of English at Arizona State College, Barnard College, Columbia University and Swarthmore College, who wrote prodigiously, and was the author of many articles on women’s rights and the problems faced by immigrants in the United States.

Her writing attracted the attention of Edward Bok, the former editor of The Ladies’ Home Journal. After World War I, Mr. Bok appointed Miss Lape to head a committee to judge entries in a contest for a ”practical plan to achieve and preserve the peace of the world.” An award of $50,000 was offered for the best plan along with another $50,000 if the plan was accepted by the United States Senate. The committee recommended the award go to a proposal for United States participation in the Permanent Court of International Justice, known as the World Court. 

Mr. Bok incorporated the American Foundation in 1924 to promote the effort. Although the United States Senate never ratified United States participation in the Court, by the time it was dissolved in 1945, the Court had 59 member states.

Esther Lape became the founding director of Bok’s American Foundation for Studies in Government. As part of her work with the Foundation, she published, ”American Medicine – Expert Testimony Out of Court,” a survey of the opinions of doctors, documented the inadequacy of medical care and suggested that improvements in the nation’s medical schools. The publication led to a series of White House meetings and President Franklin Roosevelt’s statement about the rights of every citizen to adequate medical care. She served as director of the American Foundation until she retired in 1955.

In addition to her work for Women’s Suffrage and world peace, Esther Lape knew the value of beauty. She owned a beautiful 147-acre country estate, Salt Meadow, in Westbrook, Connecticut. The estate was a haven for Esther, Elizabeth Reid and Eleanor Roosevelt, a place where they could find solace and sustenance in the midst of the demands of their professional lives. Eleanor Roosevelt wrote many of her My Day newspaper columns there during her frequent visits. In 1972, Lape donated the estate to the Government to be maintained as a wildlife refuge. The Government has seen fit to rename the estate the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge, erasing recognition of Esther Lape’s generosity and ‘Salt Meadow’ her chosen name for the lands. 

I’m tempted to write such has been the lot of women while sadly shaking my head. But I will not. Women work hard, accomplish much, and then are turned into nameless pillars of salt. But no more. It is time to recognize the work of our foremothers. It is time to remember and celebrate their names. Let us wake up each morning and fall asleep each night chanting the litany of names of those who have gone before us. We will stand tall and claim who we are and what we have done, even as we say thank you to the likes of Esther Lape and all of her sisters.

Elinor Morgenthau, who are you?

In Letters from Eleanor Roosevelt I write about a table game called, “who are you?” In the novel, I attribute it to the Roosevelt family as a way they came to know guests at the family dinner table. In truth, it is an ice breaker I would sometimes use when I course I was teaching had a relatively small enrollment. In class, each student would write an answer to the question, “who are you?” I asked the question 10 times, and students responded each time with a different answer. Then we would go around the class and record the responses on the board to get a bird’s-eye view of how we all thought of ourselves. That led to some very interesting discussions. In the (fictional) Roosevelt version of the game, one person volunteered to start, and then each person around the table would query that person, “who are you?” eliciting thoughtfulness and depth in the answers. The game continued rotating the person of focus until everyone responded to the question.

Today I thought I would play a version of that game with Elinor Morgenthau. And so I ask, Elinor

Morgenthau, who are you?

  1. Daughter of Lisette Lehman and Morris Fatman.
  2. Sister of Margaret Fatman.
  3. Wife of Henry Morgenthau.
  4. Mother of Henry III, Robert and Joan.
  5. An athlete who enjoyed tennis and horseback riding.
  6. Alumna of Vassar College.
  7. Teacher of theater at the Henry Street Settlement.
  8. Speaker for the New York State Democratic Committee Women’s Division.
  9. Dear friend of Eleanor Roosevelt and her assistant in the Office of Civilian Defense.
  10. Significant supporter of the War Refugee Board.

Elinor Morgenthau was all of that and more. She was a woman of her time and she was ahead of her times. In 1916, she proposed to her husband in Central Park, New York City. She was a delightful conversationalist, an astute political observer and analyst who supported and advanced her husband’s career and saw to it his appointment as Franklin Roosevelt’s Secretary of the Treasury.

Elinor Morgenthau died of a stroke on September 21, 1949. She was only 57 years old. Eleanor Roosevelt paid tribute to her friend in her September 23, 1949 My Day Column:

For nearly four and a half years, Mrs. Henry Morgenthau, Jr. had been ill at times. She suffered a great deal, but she was a gallant soul.

Elinor Morgenthau loved life and took a deep interest in what was happening in the world as a whole, as well as in what was happening in her own world of family and friends and personal affections. . .

There are not so many good people in the world that we can see their passing without grief for ourselves and regret that their share of humanity’s burdens will now have to be borne by others.

Elinor Morgenthau was many things to many people. She was deeply loved. She was deeply missed in her time. And yet, today her many contributions to our world receive little recognition or appreciation.  Her life, and Eleanor Roosevelt’s thoughts about her life, have me thinking about all the people who have died of COVID in the past years. In the United States, 1.03 million people have died of COVID. In the world writ large, over 6.4 million have died of COVID. For each of those unnecessarily lost lives, we could ask, “Who are you?” We could think about who they loved and how they lived. We should remember, “There are not so many good people in the world that we can see their passing without grief for ourselves and regret that their share of humanity’s burdens will now have to be borne by others.”

Thank You, Alice Hamilton

Get the lead out! An innocent enough mandate when it is simply a call to get moving faster. But in Flint, Michigan, Washington, DC, Newark & Trenton, NJ, Chicago, IL, Baltimore, MD, Philadelphia & Pittsburg, PA, Milwaukee, WI, Boston, MA—get the lead out is a lifesaving remediation that is moving all too slowly to get the lead out, out of their pipes and water systems. Lead poisoning causes learning difficulties, irritability, fatigue, belly pain, constipations, loss of appetite, weight loss, vomiting, hearing loss, premature birth, miscarriage and developmental delays. All of this in the past 20 years. But lead poisoning is not a new issue. The dangers of lead poisoning were clearly and cogently documented in the early 1900s by Doctor Alice Hamilton.

Today I would like to give thanks to Doctor Hamilton for her pioneering, ground breaking and lifesaving work. Let me introduce you to a bit of her life and some of her accomplishments.

Alice Hamilton was born on February 27, 1869 in New York City. She grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She studied medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School, taught medicine at the Woman’s Medical School of Northwestern University and Harvard Medical School. She lived at Jane Addams Hull House for over 35 years. And she died at 101 on September 22, 1970 in Hadlyme, CT.

Oh, but what she did with those 101 years! While she was at Hull House, she treated the local immigrants for diseases that were the consequence of their working conditions. In her autobiography, ‘Exploring the Dangerous Trades’, she said that life in a settlement teaches you that education and culture have little to do with real wisdom, the wisdom that comes from life experience. She personally thrived in the environment of Hull House, observing that “it satisfied every longing, for companionship, for the excitement of new experiences, for constant intellectual stimulation and for the sense of being caught up in a big movement which enlisted my enthusiastic loyalty. At Hull House, Alice Hamilton’s medical knowledge, linked with Jane Addams’ passion for social reform, and the lives for the working-class people, ignited her compassion and indignation. Alice Hamilton brought her education and cultural background to bear on the life experiences she gained at Hull House, and she changed our understanding of health and working conditions to enhance human dignity and public health.

In 1910, the governor of Illinois invited Dr. Hamilton to conduct a study of the extent of industrial sickness in the state. She became managing director of the survey of lead and enamelware industries, rubber production, painting trades and the explosive and munitions industries, with the study of the lead industries as her particular focus. Charles Neill, Commissioner of Labor in the U.S. Department of Commerce, later asked her to conduct a similar survey of all the United States. By the time Alice Hamilton was in her early 40s, she was the leading authority on lead poisoning and one of a very small group of experts in occupational diseases.

Alice Hamilton fully embraced her focus on industrial toxicology, which she described as “scientific in part, but human and practical in great measure.” In each of her investigations, she employed ‘shoe-leather’ epidemiology: careful and extensive analysis of hospital records to document the connection between specific illnesses and occupations, the thorough investigation of factories to learn which industrial processes used or produced dangerous chemicals. But she was not content to document the extent of lead poisoning. She personally tried to persuade factory owners and managers to remedy the dangerous conditions by instituting dust and fume prevention techniques; or by having workers wear protective clothing to be removed and washed at the end of each shift.

Alice Hamilton was a woman of her time and she was ahead of her time. Many of us owe our health and the good health of our relatives to her research and interventions. Thank You, Doctor Alice Hamilton.

{Alice Hamilton is one of nearly 90 women mentioned in my novel: Letters from Eleanor Roosevelt. You can find her there on page 92. Happy Reading!}

Thinking about Human Rights on Ordinary Days in Small Places Close to Home

A couple of weeks ago I got to see Audra McDonald perform in concert. The woman is breath-taking. She has such an amazing talent. She had such an open heart. As I listened to her sing, I found myself thinking about Eleanor Roosevelt – it is pretty odd the pathways that my mind is wont to wander, but for the most part they are happy trails, and so I am content to follow the yellow brick road.

So that night, one of the songs that Audra McDonald sang got me to thinking about Eleanor’s often quoted speech fragment from the tenth anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Now, I suspect you will either have never heard of this, or you will have heard it SO many times that you can halfway recite it in your sleep. Either way, please give it a read, once more with feeling. Think about what her words are really suggesting as she challenges us to think about the roots of human rights:

Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home — so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any map of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person: the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.

Every time I read that paragraph I remember E. F. Schumacher’s injunction to think globally but act locally.

And all of that reminds me that in many ways it is easy to be a verbal, maybe even a financial, advocate for people on the other side of the planet. Truth be told, I find it much harder to consistently be compassionate and to always respect the human dignity of the people I meet closer to home on ordinary days, those people who can frustrate the crap out of me. But I do believe that Miss Eleanor is saying it is those very people who live in the small places close to our homes where the presence and practice of human rights must take its roots. And then of course we should do all that we can to have it spread like kudzu!

So, what tune was it that Audra McDonald sang that got me thinking about all of this? The song is “I’ll be there” from an off Broadway Play called, “Ordinary Days.”  Have a listen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aku-s6yPplc    And have a box of tissues with you. When she sang it, there was not a dry eye in the theater.

On human interdependence and breathing

Since the failed grand jury decision in Ferguson I have been wanting to write something meaningful here about that. Then the Staten Island grand jury failed to find any cause to indict, and I even more wanted to write something meaningful. But what? what could I say? Eric Garner could not breathe, and I could not find words to write.  Then I cam across this meditation by Jan Willis, and so I share it with you in recognition of our deep interdependence, because breathing is a most basic human right.

Why We Can’t Breathe BY JAN WILLIS 

Lions Roar DECEMBER 7, 2014

http://www.lionsroar.com/cant-breathe/

We can’t breathe!

In Buddhist meditation, our breathing is essential. Anapana, meditation on the breath, was the Buddha’s first meditation instruction and the basis for all further meditative endeavors. Breathing is not only life-sustaining and calming; it is a foremost teaching aid. Breathing, we sense immediately our necessary connection to what is other than ourselves. Without the exchange of air —inner and outer–we would die. We are not independent. We are dependent.

We are interdependent. We are connected with one another. We breathe the same air. That air is neither black nor white. We share the life-force of all.

If one of us cannot breathe, none of us can breathe fully and deeply and we no longer experience our connection with one another.

If Eric Garner cannot breathe, then we cannot breathe. If Michael Brown no longer breathes, we cannot breathe. If Tamir Rice does not breathe, we cannot breathe.

Something is mightily broken. A hard rock of sadness and pain rolls itself up in our hearts and we cannot breathe. We must do something—swiftly and non-violently–to right the moral compass. Because, at this moment, none of us can breathe.

 

Human Rights, Eleanor Roosevelt and Rudyard Kipling

From 1936 until she died in 1962, six days a week, virtually without interruption Eleanor Roosevelt wrote her column, “My Day” which was syndicated in newspapers across the country and in many other countries around the world. In the column Mrs. Roosevelt wrote about social issues that were on her mind, she wrote about her work at the United Nations and for the Commission on Human Rights, she wrote of her travels around the world and her meetings with dignitaries from around the world, and she wrote about her mundane daily activities, she wrote about her day whatever that day might contain.

Here is the text of her column from June 16, 1951. I particularly think it fits here because in the column she highlights the human rights implications of a section from Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book. Check it out!

ER my day

JUNE 16, 1951

 BOSTON, Friday—Kipling has gone out of fashion more or less, whereas when I was young it would have been almost impossible to find a child who did not know the “Jungle Book.” It is a rare thing nowadays to find a child who does. But on the afternoons when I am home some of my grandchildren gather around at 5 o’clock in the afternoon and I read aloud. The other day we read “How Fear Came” from the “Jungle Book.”

Some of my contemporaries will remember from that story a few of the rules of the jungle, as taught by old Baloo, the brown bear. These particular rules apply to the wolves, but as I read I could not help thinking how well they applied to us all. For instance:

“As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk the law runneth forward and back,
For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.”

Isn’t that a pretty good picture of why we should have a United Nations and why each nation in the U.N. should look to its own contribution? The success of the organization depends on what each member is and can contribute.

I could not help looking at my small fry with a smile as I read:

“Wash deeply from nose tip to tail tip; drink deeply, but never too deep.”

And then again:

“When Pack meets Pack in the Jungle, and neither will go from the trail,
Lie down till the leaders have spoken—it may be fair words will prevail.”

So, even in the law of the jungle the value of conversation before action was recognized.

And here again is one of the human rights expressed as the law of the jungle.

“The lair of the Wolf is his refuge, and where he has made his home,
Not even the Head Wolf may enter, not even the Council may come.”

So the right of privacy and the ownership of property was one of the laws of the jungle! Kipling even made it clear that in the jungle you could not be completely selfish. Here it is:

“If Ye plunder his Kill from a weaker, devour not all in thy pride;
Pack-right is the right of the meanest; so leave him the head and the hide.”

In other words, if you can get it, you can take the major part. But don’t take everything or you may regret it later. And now for the last verse:

“Now these are the Laws of the Jungle, and many and mighty are they;
But the head and the hoof of the Law and the haunch and the bump is—Obey!”

E.R.

 (World copyright, 1951, by United Feature Syndicate, inc. Used with permission of Mrs. Roosevelt’s literary estate.)

 

Malalai: the Joan of Arc of Afghanistan

 

When Malala Yousafzay was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, I of course, had to scour the web to find some info on her. And you should check out my post “Malala Yousafzay and Kailash Satyarthi and the Nobel Prize 2014” to read about how and why she earned the prize. As I read about her, I came across a line that mentioned that she was named after Malalai, an Afghan heroine. So, off I went again in search of info on Malalai. I was all set to gather and collate and draft something, when I came across this blog by Garen Ewing, http://www.garenewing.co.uk/angloafghanwar/biography/malalai.php, which I happily share with you here! Indeed, I am happy to celebrate two young women (Malala and Malalai) who dedicated their lives to working for human rights!!

 

Malalai
Afghan heroine of Maiwand

While in Britain, no one has heard of her, in Afghanstan Malalai (or Malala) is a legend. Smaller facts in the story vary slightly, but although it is Ayub Khan who became known as the Victor of Maiwand, it is said that it was Malalai who actually saved the day.

She was a native of Khig, a tiny village on the edge of the Maiwand battlefield, and the daughter of a shepard. Both her father and fiancée joined with Ayub’s army in the attack on the British on July 27th 1880 (which some say was also her wedding day), and like many women, Malalai was there to help tend to the wounded and provide water and spare weapons. Eventually there came a point in the battle where the Afghan army, despite their superior numbers, started to lose morale and the tide seemed to be turning in favour of the British. Seeing this, Malalai took off her veil and shouted out:

“Young love! If you do not fall in the battle of Maiwand,
By God, someone is saving you as a symbol of shame!”

This gave many of the Afghan fighters and ghazis a new resolve and they redoubled their efforts. At that moment one of the leading flag-bearers fell from a British bullet, and Malalai went forward and held up the flag (some versions say she made a flag out of her veil), singing a landai:

“With a drop of my sweetheart’s blood,
Shed in defense of the Motherland,
Will I put a beauty spot on my forehead,
Such as would put to shame the rose in the garden,”

But then Malalai was herself struck down and killed. However, her words had spurred on her countrymen and soon the British lines gave way, broke and turned, leading to a disastrous retreat back to Kandahar and the biggest defeat for the Anglo-Indian army in the Second Afghan War. Ayub Khan afterwards gave a special honour to Malalai and she was buried at her village, where her grave can still be found.

British sources, unsurprisingly, do not mention Malalai. Her actions may not have been noticed by any of the British, or they may not have seemed as consequential as they were to the Afghans. Afghan women are very rarely mentioned at all in the reports and narratives of the war (Hensman mentions that one woman was found among the dead at Ahmed Khel). Interestingly, it is the Afghans who provide some of the evidence for one of the other legends born at the battle of Maiwand, as it is from one of Ayub’s artillery colonels that we learn some of the details of the famous last stand of the 66th, clutching to their company colours, in a Khig garden, where indeed the fallen bodies were later found to be lying.

As well as Malalai, there were many other factors in the Afgan’s favour on that day, including preferential terrain and positioning, superior numbers, skilled use of outnumbering artillery, and perhaps some bad decisions on the British side of things. But certainly her actions were enough to turn her into a national hero where she is still revered today. Schools, hospitals and even a women’s magazine have been named after her. It is also a popular girl’s name, with Malalai Joya a rare female voice in post-Taliban Afghan politics.

Article by Garen Ewing ©2005. Separate from other articles on this website, I grant a creative commons license so this article may be used elsewhere to spread the word about Malalai. Please include this credit line.

 

 

Malalai of Maiwand
Da_Maiwand_MalalaiA drawing of Malalai holding Ayub Khan’s flag at the battlefield of Maiwand in July 1880
Born 1861
Khig, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan
Died July 1880 (aged 18–19)
Maiwand, Kandahar province, Afghanistan
Nationality Afghan
Other names Malalai Nia, Malala and Malalai of Maiwand
Ethnicity Pashtun
Known for Battle of Maiwand

 

Malala Yousafzay and Kailash Satyarthi and the Nobel Prize 2014

The Nobel Peace Prize for 2014

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2014 is to be awarded to Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzay for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.  Children must go to school and not be financially exploited.  In the poor countries of the world, 60% of the present population is under 25 years of age.  It is a prerequisite for peaceful global development that the rights of children and young people be respected.  In conflict-ridden areas in particular, the violation of children leads to the continuation of violence from generation to generation.

Showing great personal courage, Kailash Satyarthi, maintaining Gandhi’s tradition, has headed various forms of protests and demonstrations, all peaceful, focusing on the grave exploitation of children for financial gain.  He has also contributed to the development of important international conventions on children’s rights.

Despite her youth, Malala Yousafzay has already fought for several years for the right of girls to education, and has shown by example that children and young people, too, can contribute to improving their own situations.  This she has done under the most dangerous circumstances.  Through her heroic struggle she has become a leading spokesperson for girls’ rights to education.

The Nobel Committee regards it as an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism.  Many other individuals and institutions in the international community have also contributed.  It has been calculated that there are 168 million child labourers around the world today.  In 2000 the figure was 78 million higher.  The world has come closer to the goal of eliminating child labour.

The struggle against suppression and for the rights of children and adolescents contributes to the realization of the “fraternity between nations” that Alfred Nobel mentions in his will as one of the criteria for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Oslo, 10 October 2014

 

 At 17, Malala is the youngest person ever to receive a Nobel Peace Prize. Here is a little bit about who she is and the work she is doing, from her web page http://www.malala.org/#1

Malala Yousafzay was born on 12 July 1997, in Mingora, the Swat District of north west Pakistan. She was named Malala, after Malalai, the famous Pashtun Heroine. Malala’s father, Ziauddin Yousafzai is a poet, and runs a public school. He is a leading educational advocate himself. In 2009, Malala began writing an anonymous blog for the BBC expressing her views on education and life under the threat of the Taliban taking over her valley. During this period, the Taliban’s military hold on the area intensified. As the Taliban took control of the area they issued edicts banning television, banning music, and banning women from going shopping and limiting women’s education. A climate of fear prevailed and Malala and her father began to receive death threats for their outspoken views. As a consequence, Malala and her father began to fear for their safety. After the BBC blog ended, Malala was featured in a documentary made for The New York Times. She also received greater international coverage and was revealed as the author of the BBC blog. In 2011, she received Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize and she was nominated by Archbishop Desmond Tutu for the International Children’s Peace Prize. Her increased profile and strident criticism of the Taliban caused Taliban leaders to meet, and in 2012, they voted to kill her. On 9 October, 2012, a masked gunman entered her school bus and asked for Malala by name. Malala was shot with a single bullet which went through her head, neck and shoulder. Two of her friends were also injured in the attack. Malala survived the initial shooting, but was in a critical condition. She was later moved to Birmingham in the United Kingdom for further treatment at a specialist hospital for treating military injuries. She was discharged on January 3, 2013 and moved with her family to a temporary home in the West Midlands. It was a miracle she was alive. Ehsanullah Ehsan, chief spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that Yousafzai was a symbol of the infidels and obscenity. However, other Islamic clerics in Pakistan issued a fatwa against the Taliban leaders and said there was no religious justification for shooting a schoolgirl. Her assassination attempt received worldwide condemnation and protests across Pakistan. Over 2 million people signed the Right to Education campaign. The petition helped lead to the ratification of Pakistan’s first right to education bill. Her shooting, and her refusal to stand down from what she believed was right, brought to light the plight of millions of children around the world who are denied an education today. Malala became a global advocate for the millions of girls being denied a formal education because of social, economic, legal and political factors. She started the Malala Fund to bring awareness to the social and economic impact of girls’ education and to empower girls to raise their voices, to unlock their potential, and to demand change.

 

 

And, here is a bit about Kailash Satyarthi from his web page Kailash Satyarthi was born on January 11, 1954. He is a human rights activist from India who has been at the forefront of the global movement to end child slavery and exploitative child labor since 1980 when he gave up a lucrative career as an Electrical Engineer for initiating crusade against Child Servitude. As a grassroots activist, he has led the rescue of over 78,500 child slaves and developed a successful model for their education and rehabilitation. As a worldwide campaigner, he has been the architect of the single largest civil society network for the most exploited children, the Global March Against Child Labor, which is a worldwide coalition of NGOs, Teachers’ Union and Trade Unions. As an analytical thinker, he made the issue of child labor a human rights issue, not a welfare matter or a charitable cause. He has established that child labor is responsible for the perpetuation of poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, population explosion and many other social evils. He has also played an important role in linking the fight against child labor with the efforts for achieving ‘Education for All’.

Two lions and a flock of sheep

Two lions walk into a bar . . . no, that is not this story.

Two lions are playing golf when a flock of sheep walk across the golf course grazing . . . no that is not this story either.

Once in another time and place which is sometime and some place, there was a lion who was wandering across the lands when she came upon a flock of sheep meandering and grazing in a small pasture. As the lion looked over the heard, sizing them up to decide which of them would be supper for herself and her cubs she noticed that there was another lion about. But this other lion was lazing in the middle of the sheep.

This other lion grew up with the sheep since it had been a small cub. It would bleat like the sheep and run about in the pasture like the sheep. Our lion went right for this strange aberration of a lion, and when the sheepish lion stood before the feral lion his entire body and being began to tremble and shake. He had never seen such a magnificent and ferocious creature. The feral lion asked the sheepish lion, “what are you doing here in the middle of these sheep?” The sheepish lion was perplexed and replied, “I am a sheep.” “No, you are not! You are a lion. Come with me.” And the feral lion lead the sheepish lion to a pool, where the two lions stood shoulder to shoulder next to each other. “Look” commanded the feral lion. When the sheepish lion saw his reflection in the water he let out a thunderous roar, and in that moment he was transformed. And he was never the same again.

 

This is another Anthony deMello story. deMello tells the story as an example of awakening to awareness, and how sometimes that awakening is an all of a sudden ‘ah ha!’ kind of experience. And there are moments like that. Transformative moments that shake us, or somehow touch us at the core of our being, kind of like someone finally turned the lights on – I was blind (or thought I was) and now I see. And, I suspect working for social justice and human rights can be a lot like that too in some ways. When you are working for human rights – building protections for people so that things that should never be done to them (like torture, kidnapping, murder, false imprisonment, etc) are never done to them; so that the things that should be accessible to everyone are accessible to them (like food, clothing, safety and security, etc); and so that groups can be groups in their own particular way as long as they respect other groups rights – well, when you focus on those big things, it can get overwhelming. And then, there are these ‘ah ha’ moments when you realize that “yes, we need to think globally, but we must act locally.” And on a local level it is all in the details. And finding and respecting the core of our basic human nature is a pretty important detail. Today, for me, its kindness.

Kindness? Please! Just how important is kindness? As I thought about that, I remembered a story about Hillel, who took a bet that he could not summarize the entire Torah while standing on one foot. Hillel smiled and said, “That which is hateful to you, do not do to others. All else is commentary.” Sounds like a description of kindness to me. And then there was Jesus who summarized all of the law by saying, “Love God with your whole being, and love your neighbor as yourself.” That sounds like kindness too! And then the Buddha who taught, “hate can never dispel hate, only love can dispel hate.” That sounds like pretty powerful kindness to me.

So, today, this day, let’s all look at ourselves in a pool of clear fresh water and see the kind beings that we inherently are. And let’s go share that kindness with each other. Let’s lead each other to seeing ourselves and each other in the water of kindness, and maybe even pause and lap it up together.