Thursday, September 30, 2010

Iron Jawed Angels and Changing the World

I watched a movie last night which stayed with me through my dreams.  It's called Iron Jaw AngelsIt's the story of Alice Paul, a young Quaker woman, and her compatriots who worked to get the vote for women.  Alice was played by Hillary Swank and was portrayed as a single-minded powerful woman whose driving passion in life was to get the vote for women.  She had the chance to fall in love.  She had the chance to compromise her values.  She had many chances to give up.  But through it all she stayed very clear about her intention - to get the vote for women. 

At one point in the movie, she was incarcerated along with 215 other women for picketing in front of the White House.  The trumped-up charge was that they were obstructing traffic.  Once in jail, she immediately caused problems and was put in solitary confinement where she began a hunger strike.  A psychiatrist questioned her to try to declare her insane, but wasn't able to - she was completely clear about why she was doing what she was doing.  President Wilson was portrayed as the bad guy in it, trying to shake loose this rabid dog around his ankle. 

The wife of a senator, who was NOT in favor of giving women the vote, was also arrested and chose to remain in jail rather than being given amnesty.  That got the attention of the president eventually and was portrayed as being a turning point.  She also went on a hunger strike and scared her husband into doing something about it when he saw her.

What stuck with me about this movie was how few people it took to change the world.  There were 1000's of women around the country working for Women's Rights, but (if the movie can be believed), it was the hardheaded determination and refusal to give up of this one single woman who made the difference.  That is truly astonishing.

That means that any one of us could change the world if our vision were clear enough.

I am also reminded of Westboro Baptist Church.  There are 50 Phelps in the church and 10 other members.  These people have spread their hatred and anger and confusingly hate-filled message all around the country and have stirred rational people into a fury.  Laws have been passed all around the country to counteract their tactics.  Some of those laws are unconstitutional and have negative consequences for the First Amendment Rights for many of us.  There is a case going in front of the Supreme Court next week to decide a case that has been moving through the courts the last 2 years.  It too could negatively impact our First Amendment Rights.

What impresses me about Westboro is how the hatred of one person (the head of the church and family) could spread so horribly and affect all of us so negatively.  Hitler is, of course, another person who comes to mind which I think about one person spreading horrors around the world.

So I awoke with the thought that I can change the world.  With a clear enough vision and enough determination, I can affect the world in significant ways.  That isn't the statement of a meglomaniac (I hope!) Any one of us can change the world.

What is your vision of the world?  How do you want it to be?  What will you do today to begin to affect that change?

My vision is of a world where we each love ourselves deeply and completely, where gentleness and kindness and respect are the default ways of being.  Loving ourselves leads to loving and accepting others unconditionally.  There is no place for hatred or strife or war in such a place.

Join me, will you?

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