Ordinary People, Extraordinary Heroes

This past weekend and some days this week I have been keenly interested in heroes. Whether modern or older I have wanted to know a bit more and pay personal homage to ordinary people who through acts of selflessness and the highest valor and courage, sacrificed unquestionably their own self-benefit for others, for a greater good, for a greater number in the future. Some of these remarkable stories included many war heroes, men who willing put themselves in lethal danger in order to protect their Brothers in Arms, their squad, platoon, or battalion. Their acts of sacrifice are legendary and should never be lost to time.

But there are also other heroes who never fought in any war, or armed conflict, but the risks and dangers they willingly faced were just as daunting, just as consequential as a soldier faces in combat. Many of them are women of the 19th and 20th centuries. Their fight for equal rights, equal treatment, pay, and opportunities in patriarchal dominated societies across the globe deserve just as much awe, respect, and homage as any man’s stories of gallantry, valor, and sacrifice in war! Agreed? Of course you do if you are a fair and reasonable human being.

Some of the immediate names of female heroes that come to my mind are Eleanor Roosevelt, Susan B. Anthony, Rosa Parks, Billie Jean King, Malala Yousafzai, and a big one for birth-control Margaret Sanger who eventually laid the groundwork for America’s badly needed Planned Parenthood. However, the one specific woman I was reminded of this past Sunday and Monday was Emily Wilding Davison. If you are unfamiliar with Emily’s unwavering commitment to eliminating injustice and gender inequality, then watch this following 15-second clip of her public statement:

As part of my remembrance to many ordinary people who became extraordinary heroes for the betterment of humanity, I watched the 2015 film Suffragette with Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham-Carter, Natalie Press, and Meryl Streep. The film is pretty accurate historically regarding Women’s Suffrage in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s England. From the Smithsonian Magazine web-page:

The filmmakers deliberately modeled [fictional character] Maud [Watts] on the stories of working class suffragettes, whose activism put their jobs, marriages and even custody of their children, at risk. “I think what was interesting for us was to create a rich ensemble of composite characters who we felt would carry the voices of these women who hadn’t been heard and allow them to segue and intersect with these extraordinary moments of history,” says Morgan.

Horse Racing - The Derby Stakes - Epsom - Suffragette Protest - 1913Many parts of the film were real historical events and characters.

…the bombing of Chancellor of the Exchequer, David Lloyd George’s empty country house, and Davison’s fatal protest at the Epsom Derby – were real. After decades of peaceful protest with no result, suffragettes, particularly those in Emmeline Pankhurst’s (Meryl Streep in a brief cameo) Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), followed the motto “Deeds Not Words.” Taking pains not to hurt people, they created mayhem by attacking property – including slashing a Velázquez in the National Gallery  – and disrupting government meetings.

Emily Davison’s protest, whether to attach a scarf of her Movement’s colors to King George V’s horse or to sacrifice herself by death or maiming is unknown to this day. What happened in decades and a century later was unprecedented.

Today, Davison’s gravesite in Morpeth, Northumberland, is a feminist shrine that attracts visitors from around the world. […]

“What is extraordinary about that footage is you can see that this wasn’t a small movement of ladies who meet for tea in Kensington,” says Suffragette’s screenwriter Abi Morgan.  “This was a national and international movement.

Emily Davison closeup

Emily Davison’s entire story is quite remarkable for the time-period. She like most women of the time had very few options outside of the home and birthing then raising children. As a well-educated woman she taught as a teacher and live-in governess as well as attaining two college degrees from the University of London.

Davison was tireless and ingenious. She was arrested nine times for offenses ranging from breaking windows at Parliament to firebombing letterboxes. One of her more creative stunts was sneaking into a closet in the House of Commons one night in 1911 so she could claim Parliament as her place of residence on the official census. It was a subversive double protest. In one act, she could – as many suffragettes were attempting – avoid being counted as a citizen by a government that didn’t recognize her right to vote while if she were counted, it would be at the address of the center of that same discriminatory body.

After her first arrest she wrote gleefully to a friend. “Did you read about it? We went outside Lloyd George’s Budget meeting at Limehouse, and protested at women being kept out, etc. I was busy haranguing the crowd when the police came up and arrested me.” She describes breaking windows in her jail cells and adds “What do you think of me?” before signing off “your loving and rebellious friend.”

If you’re interested in more heroic details of the Suffrage Movement—which later fueled our modern-day Women’s March and activism for more women’s social, workforce, and legal equalities—then click here for the Smithsonian’s article. It is well worth the time.

As I finished Suffragette, I then moved on to another well-directed, acclaimed cast and historically accurate feminine hero 2009 film called Agora starring Rachel Weisz. If you are unfamiliar with the great female philosopher, astronomer, and mathematician named Hypatia of Alexandria, Egypt, during the late 4th-century CE inside a Christianizing and increasingly patriarchal Roman Empire, then I suggest you study her and watch this outstanding film. Hypatia was perhaps one of the very earliest suffragette’s in human history.

Nevertheless, let’s never forget that extraordinary heroes come in all sizes, all races and ethnicities, and certainly all genders and sexual-orientations. They’re all human. That is no debate whatsoever.

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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Self-Worth

I have to pause (again) my current 4-part series, Games of Unknowledging, for this one very important thermometer on life; a happy, thriving, giving life that most doctors, therapists, and altruists would also consider a most important check-up. I promise my next post will be the conclusion. Promise!

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How we define our worth often hinges on what others around us say and do, or don’t say and don’t do, correct? Afterall, how can our own self-perception be accurate, honest, and objective if we have nothing to compare by? What constitutes worth and what exactly are those litmus tests that define it? Are they accurate? How much attention and energy should we give to our worth, its creation and its perpetuation? Peter Gabriel had something to say, or rather sing about self-worth in his 1986 hit “Big Time,” remember?

No matter how we choose to measure our own worth, there are fluctuating degrees of external feedback we seek, consciously or subconsciously, and this can be healthy and/or unhealthy.

Thoreau quote

In our modern age of booming technology, something seemingly new every month, sporting frantic paces, competition, and only 24-hours in a day to get it, manage it and finish it, sometimes at the expense of restful sleep, the insatiable beast of technological-consumerism demands ever-growing absorption. I’m not sure how aggressive it is in other countries, but in the U.S. it’s not just fierce, it has reached the intrusive levels of addiction. Tristan Harris with web-portal Big Think:

So… how do you define your self-worth? One way? Two, three or four different ways? Share your thoughts about how to define self-worth, I’d like to know them.

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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Crowds, People, and Strangers?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve often been told and have heard this self-perceived proud gloating about remote, rural country-living:  Living out in the country away from huge crowds, rude impolite strangers, horrible traffic and congestion, and high crime-rates are the best reasons not to live in the big city. Where I am currently living, in the central Hill Country of Texas, I am often offered this sort of bragging. I find it a very odd mindset and perception by “sweet ole” country folks. Almost naïve, if I must admit.

I was born and raised in one of Texas’ largest cities, Dallas. From only 682,000 people inside the official city-limits, Dallas has grown now to 1,300,092 in 2016. That number is strictly within the narrow city-limits. Today, the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex has a 2016 population nearing 7.2-million! Though not as large as say New York or Los Angeles, DFW is not moderately sized by any means. And with that size and diversity comes a plethora of wonderful benefits, like the Fine Arts, endless huge libraries scattered about, auditoriums, theaters, museums and sports stadiums, a very wide job-market, and in particular the means and resources to be environmentally responsibly Green! Huge perk there! Nonetheless, yes… Dallas-Ft. Worth does have its drawbacks like crime and traffic just like any major city in the U.S. and around the world.

Dallas Skyline before Sunset 612 3

But are those drawbacks due to a location or region, or are they results of crowds, people, individuals and strangers in a strange or familiar home or place? Is it related to a number of people squeezed together or is it a fluctuating degree of people-skills, education, collaboration? Here’s the million-dollar question:  What is really implied by gloating about one’s geographical home/house or culture? I’d like to honestly understand.

As some/many of you know, I am currently displaced from my big city home and culture of Dallas, Texas. Due to family (mis)givings I am in that heaven-like(?) rural, remote small country town getting my elderly widowed Mom’s house emptied and her moved out of this large 10-acre ranchita home. We are a minimum of 66-miles from the nearest city. With that privacy and peace-of-mind, as many “round these parts” would boast, there are also some significant DISadvantages to this lifestyle. First and foremost, fast emergency attention from EMT’s! When Mom’s late husband had a critical heart-attack in 2006, it took the ambulance and EMT’s nearly 30-minutes to arrive out here, partly because there were only two ambulance services here serving about a 25-mile or more radius.

Second, and as we discovered last year needing to dispose of an old cathode ray tube (CRT) 24″ television, not only did the local garbage pickup company not accept these TV’s for the landfill, but all local businesses or recycling centers would not either. It took near two weeks to finally find an off-the-beaten-path junkyard business to reluctantly take ours, for free!

One year later we are back here again. Now it is her 44″ CRT television that weighs about as much as a small elephant! I would know, because I am the one who strained my legs, arms, and back just to get it out of the entertainment cabinet and onto the tow-dolly in front of the cabinet — only to move it 50-yards to the back patio out the wide sliding-glass doors; the only exit it would fit through. Getting out of bed the next morning I’m sure I looked like a drunk turtle on its back, legs barely swaying in the air looking for something to grab! Hell, if I had needed fast emergency care for paralysis, I’d be waiting for at least 30-minutes, which in that painfully forsaken time I could have hot tea and toast… country-style!

log cabin livingWithout delay I get on the internet and search for some business, some Green recycling establishments nearby to come and pickup this dead goliath-of-entertainment and dispose of it properly. Snap! I find no less than three! I continue reading all the various junk-items that they happily come and pickup — just type in your zip code it says and they’ll arrange for pickup. Wow, I am totally stoked about this solution! Three minutes later, I’m sorry sir. We do not service that area. It is simply too far, too remote. Talk about total deflation. We ask if they have any recommendations. “Go onto the internet and Google TV removal/disposal.” As I already discovered, all the other recycling establishments were in the same large city… yes, 66-miles away.

It begs the question: What is it again you remote country folks love about being so secluded out here away from the crowds, people, traffic, strangers and individuals — and their oft needed help and businesses — that makes this sort of living heavenish!? Where do all of you take or place your trash that landfills won’t accept? What exactly is being burned — once the burn-ban is lifted locally — around town and its outskirts? Because I always see white, blue-ish, or black smoke billowing up into our atmosphere? Oh! Another question:  When the poor or homeless or lower-middle class here cannot afford (by law) automobile* liability insurance, or driver’s license fees, or even gasoline to put IN the automobile,* is there any (very affordable) public transportation available? Which by the way, greatly cuts down on carbon emissions if utilized by more and more caring citizens! And one nationally growing medical healthcare concern is rising dementia and Alzheimer’s disease among our retired and aging. Medical research has shown that if a brain remains actively stimulated and challenged, especially during the last half of life, dementia and Alzheimer’s are noticeably reduced! Ahh, large cities and the hustle-n-bustle of many diverse people certainly offer healthy brain-game exercises! So again…

What is so grand about living far away from crowds, people, and (temporary?) strangers of whom you might one day require their kind assistance or ideal business? Tell me again?

Should we rethink this mentality? Should we better define what “community” means… fairly and accurately on several scales?

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*Sidenote — when on the streets of this small country town, it becomes glaringly obvious that 75% – 80% of vehicles on the roads here are big trucks or SUV’s.

Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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