I am a sucker for a good book, and a good drink.
Today, November 29th, is the birth date of one of my favorite authors, Louisa May Alcott. She’s best known for her more popular works like “Little Women” and “Jo’s Boys.” But Alcott was far more than just an author and a poet, she was an abolitionist and a feminist who believed in equality for all, not just the privileged-of which she was not. Alcott used writing as her emotional outlet, and that is something I have always been able to relate to.
For historical context, Alcott’s family served as station masters on the Underground Railroad, which basically meant they would house a fugitive slave for a week at a time. She also advocated for women’s suffrage and actually became the first woman to register to vote in Concord. Massachusetts during a school board election. In 1860, she began writing for the Atlantic Monthly, a publication I read to this day. During the Civil War she served as a nurse in the Union Hospital in the Georgetown area of Washington D.C. She was unable to serve long though, as she contracted typhoid fever.
So why do I share all of this here in this venue?
Honestly it’s because I have a lot of admiration for the works of Louisa May Alcott, but also because I feel that a lot of what she wrote and said is pertinent to our society today. I’ve never been what I would call a feminist. I am however a huge advocate of equal rights for all.
Our nation is in quite a tumultuous season, and an old Alcott passage comes to mind, “I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.” We really have two choices as a nation today: we can protest, pout, degrade, insult, criticize, tweet and gripe, or we can support, speak out, fight on, vote, encourage, listen and do better. It is a stormy period in our country, the right and the left have never agreed but I’m not sure they’ve ever been so vehemently against each other as they are today. And truth be told, even though many feel that their votes don’t matter because the Electoral College elects the President, we are all sailors in this storm and we are all trying to “right the ship” of our nation. We are all learning. This is a new era, a new age. We are dealing with issues today that our Founding Fathers could never have dreamed of. Our debts are higher, our world has famines and wars going on in so many locations, our nation is full of sickness, violence, crime and pain. The waters are rough right now.
But this nation has not lost its beauty. And to continue with the words of Louisa May Alcott, “Love is a great beautifier.” Believers, and I am one, are called to love one another. And the greatest acts of love have brought about ridiculous amounts of good. If we love one another better, we find less time to criticize one another. If we love our nation better, we find more ways to serve others than to tear them down. If we love our freedom more, we think of fewer ways to take it away from someone. If we love, we are a more beautiful nation.
We all have different opinions, I’m not sure that has ever been more evident than the recent Presidential election. And while everyone wants their voice to be heard, so many feel like they are not. Alcott once wrote, “Let my name stand among those who are willing to bear ridicule and reproach for the truth’s sake, and so earn some right to rejoice when the victory is won.” I voted an unpopular vote this Presidential election, and I hope that will not drive you away from this site. If truth be told, I could have voted for either Presidential candidate, it was a game time decision for my family. And I posted to my Facebook after the election who I voted for. I faced some criticism for sure, some expected and some unexpected. I was very rarely allowed to explain my point of view as to why I voted the way I did. “My truth” was hardly ever heard. I had no victory celebration. I had no feelings of winning, even though the candidate I voted for won, at least so far. But I wanted my voice heard. I believe that voting is sacred. I believe that the freedom of democracy has been fought for, bled for and died for and should never be taken for granted.
Louisa May Alcott once wrote, “He who believes is strong; he who doubts is weak. Strong convictions precede great actions.” Those very words were exactly why I voted the way I did. I have really strong opinions on some things. And the things that I do not, I am constantly researching and trying to learn more to form more opinions. I believe that having strong convictions is vital to helping bring about great change. I have always said, and I stand firmly behind today, that I have no issue with how someone votes as long as they know why they voted the way they did. I take no offense in being told I am extremely opinionated, I only take offense to the tone in which it is said. What a shame to attack someone for having educated opinions, when really, shouldn’t we all?
Alcott wrote, “Housekeeping ain’t no joke.” And man, does that ring true today. This nation is in need of some housekeeping, on both sides of the aisle. It’s a daunting task, and I’m not sure who is up to the task other than God Almighty Himself. Each side has flaws, dirt and grime. Each side has more issues than we can even count. It’s easy to point fingers and name call those who think differently than you or voted differently, but what is the point exactly?
Keep believing America. Keep pursuing. Keep dreaming. Keep weaving. Keep wishing.