I feel as though I should open with the words, “it’s a quiet night in Lake Woebegon”, but I just heard that Lake Woebegon is no more. Garrison Keillor has retired and Prairie Home Companion is under younger management. But Lake Woebegon is a real place to those of us who live in the Mid-west. It is where we all grew up in one form or another. It is a place somewhat isolated from the mainstream, but a place where life goes on in subtle ways.
I arrived in Baker this afternoon, a beautiful sunny fall day. The church secretary gave me the garage door opener and the keys to the parsonage and I was ready to go. I brought all the makings for a tuna fish hot dish, but forgot a can opener and the milk. I got the can open (do not ask how) and mixed cottage cheese with the soup instead of milk. Tomorrow!! There is no television in the parsonage which makes sense for now when I am only part-time. No sense in wasting money. However, the wi-fi at the church doesn’t reach to the house across the street so I will have to do my checking on things from the church like e.mail, internet, etc.
I am without the news but that is not all bad. I will catch up on the days I get home or I can go online when I am at the church. Chuckling to myself I am amazed at how much we take for granted in our daily lives. The minute the game plan is changed just a little and we have to improvise it takes some thinking a’la McIver to make things work. My tuna fish casserole was just fine -- tasted good and I have a little left for tomorrow to warm up when I am on the run between churches.
When I am traveling in a car I find myself doing a lot of composing in my head. I write some pretty good pieces which never make the printed page as the prairies slide by. Occasionally I have to pull my thoughts back so I realize where I am and what I am doing.
Today I was thinking about the role of women in society. This week I watched the movie “Suffragette” with some friends and of course this election has had me thinking about women as well. I recently read where Saudi Arabia is allowing women to run for office but they still cannot drive. Of course in many of the Muslim countries there are still age-old prejudices against the education of women. In 1984, when I was in India I remember one college professor saying if they can educate a woman they can educate her family and that is a principle key to economic development.
As a young woman in the 1960s and 1970s I can remember the excitement as doors began to open in various segments of society. In college we really did begin to dream of new possibilities. Women in our church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, were first ordained in 1970. That was the year I graduated from college. Most of us were becoming teachers, secretaries or nurses, but there was the occasional young woman who was going into law or medicine. We envied their drive and their courage to enter those worlds which had been without women in any number. Little by little we saw the barriers dropping but it seemed for each step forward there were often two steps back.
Looking at my niece in her early 30s and my great-niece who is 16, I wonder what the future holds for them. They are both smart, my niece is well-educated, and they can handle anything that comes their way, but there still is a sense of hesitancy to my way of thinking. To every, “Yes, you can!” There seems to be a “but”, if not now perhaps several years down the road. Just as Barack Obama had a difficult eight years, if Hillary Clinton is elected president, it won’t be easy for her to get things done. We still suffer in this country from racism, sexism, ageism and other barriers which hold us back from the accomplishments we have every right to attempt.
As a woman, I am so glad I live in the United States of America. No place is perfect, but I have not had a difficult life nor have I ever felt as though I had been prevented from what I wanted to achieve. In many ways I may be one of the fortunate ones, but I still have to say it has been good. And along the way I have met many men who gave me every opportunity to prove and improve myself. They encouraged me and stood up for me when I needed that extra help. I have to admit I have not met an overtly sexist male until Donald Trump came along. So I know I am one of the fortunate ones.
As I watched the movie “Suffragette” there was that sense of the women of the 21st century being able to climb higher because of what these mothers and grandmothers did for us. It has never been easy, but every inch of ground we have advanced makes it easier for those who come after.
Note: Today “Zennie” and Deanna are sitting out some high winds and rain near the Sierra Nevadas before they move into California. Deanna texted that today was a day to put on some wool socks I knit her, get the tea pot going and curl up with a good book. I would say “Amen” to that thought.
Montana allowed early voting by registered voters starting on October 10. So on October 11th I went to the county clerk’s office and voted. So I am done with this whole business for another four years. I heard in the news that early voting is going on fast and furious. I think everyone is tired, worn-out with all this and just eager to be on to something else.
Trump, his bombast and his classic narcissism, have worn us all out. If he did not make the top line in the newscasts each and every day we thought we were missing something. My family in Sweden is shocked at what this election has produced in a country that prided itself on civil discourse and attention to the issues. At least in his day, Abraham Lincoln could confront a heckler by taking off his coat and offering to fight them if that is what it took. Once again I am not so sure but what the real issue here is gender-based. Just as President Obama had to face racism at every turn, even though many of his detractors would not admit it, so Hillary Clinton is having to take-on what it means to be the first woman elected to the presidency in this country. I don’t know what has taken us so long. Perhaps the “locker room” mentality is so deeply-seated that prying it out of our consciousness will take longer than we think. Yesterday I was trying to think about other leaders who were women and the first one that came to mind was Gold Meir, an early leader of Israel. There was nothing of physical beauty about Mrs. Meir, but she ran Israel with a firm hand and there was little, if any excuse made about her being a woman. Margaret Thatcher the “Iron lady” and Ronald Reagan were conservatives and political friends. Indira Gandhi ruled India as part of a family line but was assassinated, not because she was a woman, but because of political differences within the vast subcontinent of India. For some reason, in this country, I don’t feel as though we have reached equality and respect for women even yet.
I wish I had been more excited at being able to vote for the first woman nominated by a major political party for president, but Donald Trump has taken all the dignity out of the occasion. A hundred years since women got the right to vote we are at last seeing an intelligent and qualified woman step to the front and be recognized. She is not perfect, who is. You can look back to elections in the 1800s where political corruption was rife, but issues and the power of the office of the presidency brought a sheen of decency to it all. I don’t mind saying I hope Hillary wins. Our option is unthinkable.
I’ve been seething long enough and I need to say something. The other day Donald Trump, talking about Hilliary Clinton said her candidacy for the presidency is based on the premise that “she is playing the woman card.” I was furious. His words were an insult to women everywhere. What a dinosaur! I cannot believe, politics aside, that any breathing woman would put up with a comment like that and more to the point vote for someone who is this clueless.
I thought we were long done with that kind of rhetoric. I was going to college and starting a career in the 1960s and 1970s and I have seen what women have done in the past fifty years. It is phenomenal. During my college days we selected careers in business, teaching or nursing. The young women who became lawyers and doctors held a special place in our lives. Since then the explosion of women in every walk of life has been achieved. Over the past fifty years, given legislation and just plain hard work, women have proven themselves over and over again as social activists, astronauts, engineers in every field, computer gurus and Silicon Valley business women. They are medical doctors, both surgeons and researchers; their religious denominations have consecrated them as bishops; they are in our military academies, serve in the military branches with officer positions. They are kindergarten teachers and college presidents, and congresswomen, like Elizabeth Warren, to name only a few career paths. If we move to the world, we find women central to the economic growth and welfare of many third world nations. They lead countries -- Margaret Thatcher in Great Britain, Indra Gandhi in India, Andrea Merkel in a united Germany, Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar and others. I think of Malala, the little girl who was nearly killed by militants who believed women had no right to be educated. Surviving that horror she has not been afraid to speak out on behalf of the education of women all over the globe.
I know the stories from my own family history of women who were courageous and strong and raised children and grandchildren who have made a difference in their worlds. Traveling in India I heard a man say, “Educate the woman in the family and you educate the family.” Indian women started small businesses and managed them to the betterment of the village. Women hold every university degree available to them. They are authors, musicians, artists. They work hard to bring safe living conditions, peace in places of conflict and education for the children of the world. In many places these mothers and daughters are still mistreated and abused but they are heroes in their own time and place.
You may not like Clinton’s politics, but she is an attorney, she has been a senator, a previous presidential candidate, First Lady and a secretary of state. She is a stateswoman. She does not play “the woman card”. All of us women have a vital place in this world and I stand alongside my sisters of every color and religion and creed. No woman I have ever known has played “the woman card.” They have worked hard to achieve a contributing place in their worlds. I think they have to work twice as hard as many men in order to achieve what they have gained, but they are willing to do it to prove their abilities. Today in most places men and women walk side by side to make the world a better place to live.
I would challenge candidate Trump to really look at today’s world and take a step into the 21st century where he will meet and work alongside bright, creative, intelligent individuals who are women.