Something for Everyone

“Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must — at that moment — become the center of the universe.” 
 Elie Wiesel

A Woman

June 11th has something for everyone.

For the environmentalist, today in 1770, Captain Cook discovered the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia when his ship, “The Endeavour” was grounded.  For the artist, today the great John Constable was born in 1776. For the scientist, today was the birth of Sir Kenelm Digby, a speculative philosopher and alchemist, known for his unusual cure for warts (washing hands in an empty basin into which the moon shines), and for his futurist insights. “It may be, some ages hence, voyage to the southern unknown tracts, yea, possibly, to the moon, will not be more strange than one to America.”

For me, the most significant happening of June 11th was in 1914.  In her book, “America’s Women – 400 years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines” Gail Collins highlighted the work of Britain’s suffragette movement, in particularly their willingness to put their lives into jeopardy.  June 11th was the day when a lady’s purse, filled with an explosive device, was hung on the back of the coronation chair in Westminster Abbey, London. The chair sustained minor damage, when the explosion occurred at 5:50pm.  No one was hurt nor was anyone ever charged.  The suffragettes were blamed, nonetheless, because of the recent passage of the “Temporary Discharge for Ill Health”, aka “Cat and Mouse Act” that legalized the hunger strikes of the women who had been imprisoned and subjected to force-feeding.  The government, not wanting to be held responsible for harmful outcomes, allowed women to be released when they were at their weakest, only to be rearrested when they engaged in further acts of civil unrest.

Waves of sweeping change are very difficult to control, as the authorities soon learned.  The act did not suppress the power of the movement or demoralize the participants.  Instead, it brought the debate to an entire nation, who saw a government violating basic human rights.

Ninety-nine years later, this conversation continues, unabated.  It is a noble struggle – one that belongs to all of us.

“Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.” 
 Maya Angelou

28 thoughts on “Something for Everyone

  1. Great reading so early in the morning, Rebecca! Norway is celebrating 100 years of womens right to vote on 11 June, 2013.:-) – it’s 100 years since Norwegian women gained the right to vote and Norway became a true democracy. Norway was the first independent country in the world to introduce universal suffrage, with women and men enjoying equal democratic rights.
    Love and a big hug across open water
    Dina

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    • Isn’t Maya special!!! When I was reading a biography of Nelson Mandela, I was excited to learn that they had briefly met many years ago in Egypt. Wouldn’t it have been amazing to listen to their conversation!🙂

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    • I love looking back in history! It seems when we hear of the courage of others, it lifts our spirits and gives us the determination to continue in their footsteps. These “ordinary women” have given us big shoes to fill.

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  2. Interesting post, Rebecca. I celebrated my 30th anniversary on June 11th so the date is near and dear to my heart. Enjoyed reading your other June 11th-in-history comments! 😀

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  3. Fascinating conglomeration of significant people in the history of the world, Rebecca…
    I knew a deliciously whacky kind man called Kenelm Digby in Hongkong… now I know where his name came from. !

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    • What a small world!!! I am delighted to hear that he lived up to his great namesake. History is alive with extraordinary people that we have somehow lost track of – I love rediscovery these remarkable individuals. Makes me just a little more courageous.

      “No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness.”
      ― Aristotle

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