Fighting for social justice maybe more important than ever. With children at our borders…in crisis. With Veterans roaming the streets (homeless) of the land they fought to protect. With something as simple as, healthcare for all…a silly debate…
With all this, and socialism shouted from the rooftops of aging, life time politicians, where do we turn?
So many quotes on history and how it repeats. How the United States does not learn from her mistakes. Hatred in every corner of every town…red or blue. Again, it is important to look back to see where we need to grow.
It is well to remind ourselves, from time to time, that “Ethics” is but another word for “righteousness,” that for which many men and women of every generation have hungered and thirsted, and without which life becomes meaningless. Jane Addams
So a little history is what I present!
Addams developed three “ethical principles” for social settlements: “to teach by example, to practice cooperation, and to practice social democracy, that is, egalitarian, or democratic, social relations across class lines.” Thus Hull House offered a comprehensive program of civic, cultural, recreational, and educational activities and attracted admiring visitors from all over the world, including William Lyon Mackenzie King, a graduate student from Harvard University who later became prime minister of Canada. In the 1890s Julia Lathrop, Florence Kelley, and other residents of the house made it a world center of social reform activity. Hull House used the latest methodology (pioneering in statistical mapping) to study overcrowding, truancy, typhoid fever, cocaine, children’s reading, newsboys, infant mortality, and midwifery. Starting with efforts to improve the immediate neighborhood, the Hull House group became involved in city- and statewide campaigns for better housing, improvements in public welfare, stricter child-labor laws, and protection of working women. Addams brought in prominent visitors from around the world, and had close links with leading Chicago intellectuals and philanthropists. In 1912, she helped start the new Progressive Party and supported the presidential campaign of Theodore Roosevelt.
Jane spoke, fought for social injustice. She started with conversations on poverty. And, discussed the bias’d idea that the poor simply did not work hard enough (as many were led to believe.) The poor and down trodden were also victims of the state. The state in which they live; genetics, environment, illness, threat.
Why do we view social reform with such disdain? Why is it such a far fetched idea that…all citizens should be treated equally?
I listened to the (below) listed podcast with baited breath. Wondering why had I not known more about Jane Addams and/or her ‘Boston marriage’ to Mary Rozet Smith?
**The fact of relatively formalized romantic friendships or life partnerships between women predates the term Boston marriage and there is a long record of it in England and other European countries. The term Boston marriage became associated with Henry James‘s The Bostonians (1886), a novel involving a long-term co-habiting relationship between two unmarried women, “new women,” although James himself never used the term. James’ sister Alice lived in such a relationship with Katherine Loring and was among his sources for the novel.
There are many examples of women in “Boston marriage” relationships. In the late 1700s, for example, Anglo-Irish upper-class women Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby were identified as a couple and nicknamed the Ladies of Llangollen. Elizabeth Mavor suggests that the institution of romantic friendships between women reached a zenith in eighteenth-century England. In the U.S., a prominent example is that of novelist Sarah Orne Jewett and her companion Annie Adams Fields, widow of the editor of The Atlantic Monthly, during the late 1800s.
Why, why, why is not in the best interest of society (centuries ago and/or today) to treat those we live with, eat with, walk amongst, with dignity and respect?
I know that look…I have and had seen it many times before. When I returned home from receiving that “Look” my partner knew of which I spoke. She had seen that ‘Look’ before too!
Let me describe for you the ‘Look’ and perhaps, some of you will know what I’m talking about, as well.
Description of the ‘Look’
The facial expression is never any different whether it is on a woman or a man! It is a scowl coupled with a hatred born from ages of tyranny. The disdain and repulsiveness is not from the scowl but from the eyes! Again, it is never any different whether it is from a man or a woman. The eyes, be them blue, green, hazel or brown, become black slits. Almost invisible to those of us without twenty twenty vision. Yet, none of ‘Us’ really need to look these people in the eye because we can sense the ‘Presence’.
The ‘Presence’ is remarkable in that it only carries one tone; vanity mixed with ignorance lacking charity.
What happens when you turn your back on the ‘Look’ that denotes a ‘Presence’ of popular majority? I can only describe the ‘Feeling’ which is aroused!
The ‘Feeling’ retreats way back into the archives of my younger years. A sense of sadness. A notion of not being good enough, ridiculed, scared and more importantly, alone!
The ‘Question’ is always what follows the memories of ‘Feeling’ a ‘Presence’ of a ‘Look’ that I’ve known for so many years:
Why was I born this way? Why don’t people like me? How come I feel so different? And, for those of us older than Rainbow flags and Pride Parades, who can I talk to?
Let’s face it, I’m gay. Many other out there are, as well. We don’t want to walk into a church, a store, a job interview, a business meeting, with our ‘Pride’ on our sleeves. We do want to walk on our city streets, into our town hall meetings, our Earth Day celebrations, without the ‘Look’.
The ‘Look’ that has caused 1 in 3 homosexuals to take their own lives. The ‘Look’ that won’t allow us to openly care for each other. The ‘Look’ that claims we are deviants to society though, most crimes are committed by middle class, heterosexuals white males.
If I were granted just one wish it would be simple:
To never feel reduced, hated, sad, misplaced and unwanted by the ‘Look’ ever again!
I have wept for some doors that have been shut.
For the remembrance of circling crows, the slightly ajar iron gates that house the long ago, dead.
For the remembrance of four legged siblings…true to themselves and unabashed. I relive their memory…everyday.
Oh, the wonder years, living among loose chickens and lazy llamas.
The dead end dirty and dusky roads that had lay before me.
Those lanes with promise of green, glistering, fields.
I have wept for the Shakers, the dance, the waves of neighbors passing, as time grows old.
There’s nothing in all the world I want but you and your precious love. All the material things are nothing. I’d just hate to live a sordid, colorless existence because you’d soon love me less and less and I’d do anything — anything — to keep your heart for my own. I don’t want to live—I want to love first, and live incidentally… Don’t—don’t ever think of the things you can’t give me. You’ve trusted me with the dearest heart of all—and it’s so damn much more than anybody else in all the world has ever had. From Zelda Fitzgerald to F. Scott Fitzgerald
Perhaps, Zelda could be best understood as…misdiagnosed with schizophrenia. When it is obvious she suffered from neglect and abuse. Even further than the lackadaisical diagnosis…is the belief that F.Scott Fitzgerald stole much of Zelda’s writings to further his own career! Both intrusions only hindered what the world could have benefited from her talents.
Zelda Fitzgerald was an icon of the Roaring Twenties. A socialite, painter, novelist, and the wife of American author F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda Fitzgerald’s audacious spirit captivated those around her and she was a muse for much of her husband’s literary work. Their famously turbulent marriage was fraught with alcoholism, violence, financial ups and downs, and Zelda’s battle with mental health issues. Her own artistic endeavors include a semi-autobiographical novel, Save Me the Waltz, a play entitled Scandalabra, as well as numerous magazine articles, short stories and paintings. She died tragically on March 10, 1948 in a fire at Highland Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina.