“Je Pense Donc Je Suis”-Rene Descartes

 

   “ I live …

    For the cause that lacks assistance,

    For the wrong that needs resistance,

    For the future in the distance

    And the good that I can do.”Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s Poem On Title Page of Her Diary

 On Nov. 12th, 1815, in NY, a great thinker was born, Suffragist and Abolitionist, Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Another wonderer was also born that day, but in 1840, in Paris, the sculptor, Auguste Rodin.

 “François-Auguste-René Rodin was born on the 12th of November 1840 to a family of modest means in Paris, France. The second child of Jean-Baptiste Rodin and Marie Cheffer, Auguste was a shy child and was extremely nearsighted. This condition would define much of his early life and because of it Auguste Rodin failed to excel in academia. However, he immediately found a passion for drawing and had his first art lesson at the age of ten.”artble

 “Born on November 12, 1815, in Johnstown, New York, Elizabeth Cady grew up amidst wealth and privilege, the daughter of Daniel Cady, a prominent judge, and Margaret Livingston. In 1826, the death of her brother Eleazar drove her to excel in every area her brother had in an attempt to compensate her father for his loss. She attended the progressive Troy Female Seminary, where she received the best education available for a young woman of the early 1830s. After her graduation in 1833, she became immersed in the world of reform at the home of her cousin Gerrit Smith. There she fell in love with the abolitionist Henry Brewster Stanton.”Judith E. Harper, PBS

 Both 19th Century notables railed against tradition. Rodin “…was deeply inspired by tradition yet rebelled against its idealized forms, introducing innovative practices that paved the way for modern sculpture. He believed that art should be true to nature, a philosophy that shaped his attitudes to models and materials.”Rodin Museum   Elizabeth Cady Stanton was a more controversial rebel and historians have documented that her stance on the rights of the enslaved weren’t as important as her belief in the right for women to vote, especially women of her rank and upbringing. Historian, Lori Ginzburg has written that, “She (Stanton) certainly claimed that she fought for the rights of all women. She fought to end the barriers that denied America citizens their rights purely on the basis of sex, and she demanded rights that not one of us would be willing to give up. I mean, she demanded — in the true liberal tradition — access to the mainstream of American society in terms of professions, education, law, politics, property and so on. But when she said ‘women,’ I think … that she primarily had in mind women much like herself: white, middle-class, culturally if not religiously protestant, propertied, well-educated. And my disagreement with Stanton is that she … came to see women like herself as more deserving of rights than other people.”NPR

Both Stanton and Rodin opened up dialogues and forged concrete avenues that continue to reverberate in the 21st Century on: individuality, conformity, nonconformity, free will, expression and the individual’s right to free expression.

 

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway.”-Eleanor Roosevelt

Today, in 1884, in NYC, Former First Lady of both NYS and the U.S.A., Writer, Social Reformer, Activist, Radio Commentator, Lecturer, Author, Humanist, Eleanor Roosevelt was born. I know much is known about Eleanor, but it’s on a superficial level. She really did a lot behind the scenes and is definitely worth revisiting and getting to know better. She worked tirelessly and valiantly for Women’s Rights and put that same energy to fight against Racism and Lynching. Mrs. Roosevelt helped foster the National Youth Administration which gave our unemployed youth apprenticeships, scholarships, vocational training and important special projects, something we could use today, right? There is so much that Eleanor Roosevelt did that it is no wonder she is a “shero” to many, including Hillary Clinton. May more people visit their library or go online to learn all there is to know about this wonderful individual.

“The most vital right is the right to love and be loved.”-Emma Goldman

“I want freedom, the right to self-expression, everybody’s right to beautiful, radiant things.”-Emma Goldman

Emma Goldman was born today in 1869 in Lithuania. The quotes above are so relevant to yesterday’s DOMA decision! If there’s a heaven, Emma Goldman is smiling. She worked tirelessly for the rights of ALL people and ALL workers and was labeled an anarchist and considered an undesirable citizen by her adopted country, The U.S.A. and deported to Russia under the 1918 Alien Act. Emma Goldman was NOT an enemy, she was an idealist who believed everyone should be treated fairly and have equal rights. Today, Emma Goldman is admired for her vision, her work, her passion and commitment to equal rights. Emma Goldman believed that: “The idealists and visionaries, foolish enough to throw caution to the winds and express their ardor and faith in some supreme deed, have advanced mankind and have enriched the world.”

“Emma Goldman dedicated her life to the creation of a radically new social order. Convinced that the political and economic organization of modern society was fundamentally unjust, she embraced anarchism for the vision it offered of liberty, harmony and true social justice. For decades, she struggled tirelessly against widespread inequality, repression and exploitation.Goldman’s deep commitment to the ideal of absolute freedom led her to espouse a wide range of controversial causes. A fiery orator and a gifted writer, she became a passionate advocate of freedom of expression, sexual freedom and birth control, equality and independence for women, radical education, union organization and workers’ rights.”-jwa.org *Jewish Womens Archive

 “Emma Goldman, born in Kovno, Lithuania (then Russia) in 1869, came to the United States in 1885 at age 16. By the time of her deportation, she had made a name for herself as a leading anarchist, public speaker, and crusader for free speech, birth control, and workers’ rights.  Goldman first became interested in radical politics in Russia, where she came into contact with populists and political organizers. In the U.S., she was disappointed to learn that instead of streets paved in gold, workers were subject to gross economic inequality and inhumane working conditions. ”-jwa.org This Week in History

How appropriate that her birthday comes at such a momentous time in history!

 

A Fighter for Equal Rights….and So Much More…Ms Gloria Steinem!

 

  “We need to remember across generations that there is as much to learn as there is to teach. ” –Gloria Steinem

Happy, Happy 79th Birthday, Gloria Steinem!  For the younger generation, Gloria Steinem is an activist, writer, organizer, co-founder of MS magazine, and so much more. You can read about her by clicking onto Who is Gloria?   Also, try to catch the HBO documentary, Gloria: In Her Own Words AND the PBS documentary that Gloria was an integral part of: Makers: Women Who Make America.

For my generation, Gloria Steinem continues to be a courageous and inspirational individual who inspired many women to find their voice and make choices that were good for them and not choices based on society’s norms and intentions.

One Reason to Celebrate the Universality of Passover

“Passover affirms the great truth that liberty is the inalienable right of every human being.”Morris Joseph

As my family and I and families throughout the world get ready to celebrate Passover this Monday night, I cannot help but think of all those still struggling in 2013 for their “inalienable right” to be free.  There are all kinds of freedoms that are still squashed globally: digital freedom, economic freedom, educational freedom, LGBT freedom, religious freedom, freedom of expression, media freedom, human freedom, voting freedom…

I know that at my family’s seder, we will pray for the freedom of all people in all countries and we will also be thankful that we live in a country where we are free to express ourselves in a just democratic society. It may not be perfect and the imperfections should continue to provoke thought, action and galvanization towards helping each other; helping others globally and doing what we can individually to better this world. Passover is a time of liberation and reflecting on that liberation that took the Jewish people from slavery to freedom.

“During the civil rights struggle, African Americans, yearning for full equality, sang a spiritual whose words include: “When Israel was in Egypt’s land, let my people go … Go down, Moses, way down in Egypt’s land, tell old Pharaoh to let my people go.”  And did you know that John Adams, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson proposed a national seal with a scene of the Jewish exodus from Egypt? May the triumph of liberty and religious freedom enshrined in the Passover story prevail now—and always.” –David Harris (American Jewish Committee)

 

International Women’s Day

“If you educate a man, you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a nation.”

Key areas that must continue to be addressed more aggressively for females globally include:

  • Human trafficking
  • Education
  • Poverty
  • Pre-natal Care
  • Aids
  • Rape/Violence

There are many good people here in the U.S. and globally that have initiated excellent projects to educate us all on the above. Think of Oprah and her school for girls in South Africa; think of the money-lending system, Kiva, in India and other countries empowering women with small loans to start businesses; think of the Clinton Global Initiative. Here’s a good site to visit today: International Women’s Day 2013.

“The strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone.”- Henrik Ibsen

When I was a teenager, I read all of Henrik Ibsen’s plays. For some reason, I remember seeing Steve McQueen on Broadway in Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People, but when I googled it, it said McQueen was only in the movie. (If you click onto “movie,” you’ll enjoy a clip from the movie with a good monologue by McQueen.)  I know I’ve seen a live production!   Henrik Ibsen was a man who truly stood alone, he spoke out on issues of the day through his plays. An Enemy of the People highlighted pollution. A Doll’s House highlighted women’s rights and a woman’s choice of staying married/striking out on her own and so much more. And…who can forget Hedda Gabler?  Oh well…On this day in 1876, Ibsen’s play, Peer Gynt opened in Oslo.  Henrik Ibsen’s plays are relevant today, check them out online or at your local library!  Ibsen demonstrated the role of freedom and was compelled to speak his mind and didn’t seek admiration or agreement, just freedom.