We walk among giants. We do. When I am in the midst of those spectacular people, I feel humbled. I feel gladness, and joy too. I meet those giants frequently.
We have had the good fortune of knowing these champions throughout history. This marks the anniversary of one. Her name was Abigail Adams. She was the second first lady of our country. She was smart, and perceptive, and brave.
On this day in 1776…. she sat down and wrote a letter. She wrote a lot of good letters…. but this one was to her husband. Abagail was urging him to “remember the ladies” when drafting a new “code of laws” for our budding nation.
Future President / husband John Adams was in Philadelphia. He was participating in a little get-together called the Continental Congress. Abigail stayed back at home in Braintree, Massachusetts, to take care of their daily affairs.
John, and his pals, were mapping out a political philosophy and structure for the new nation. The bones, if you will.
So our smart giant Abigail pondered if and how the rights of women would be addressed in an American constitution. Way to go Abby.
She was a very prolific letter writer… AND…. Abigail never hesitated to debate her husband on political matters. So in this letter…. she really put it to him. She begged Adams to draft laws that were “more generous and favorable” to women than his predecessors had.
Abigail was very concerned. She noted: “if particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.”
Unfortunately, John Adams responded to the letter by teasing her a bit. That was all the consideration he gave to it. Apparently. And…. just like their predecessors, Adams and his contemporaries failed to make codifying women’s rights a priority.
And we all know…. It was not until 1919 that Congress amended the Constitution to grant women the right to vote. We still struggle with this battle of gender equality today.
I wonder what Abagail Adams would think these days.
Take for instance, our Vice President, Mike Pence. He follows the “Billy Graham Rule” concerning women. And that is…Graham would not travel (including by car), eat, or meet….. alone with a woman….. other than his wife, Ruth. And now Pence, with only his wife, Karen.
This was for fear he would become “tempted into sexual immorality.”
It can be seen as a good and honorable intention: to remain faithful to one’s spouse and to avoid the kind of behavior which has caught quite a few “with their pants down.”
But good intentions…. are… not so great, at times. Sometimes… they suggest other messages.
In this case, the Billy Graham Rule seems incredibly demeaning to women. It reduces women to nothing more than sexual temptations, objects. You know… “things” to be avoided. There certainly doesn’t seem to be a peer-to-peer respect.
Don’t sit down to a meeting with a woman. Alone. Or you are just asking for a Big Scarlet “A” on your sweater. This all supports and prolongs an old boys’ club mentality. It excludes women from their true identities and worth. And, in this case, inhibits important work at the governmental level.
These two juxtaposing stories seem to present a huge difference in mentalities.
There is much I do not understand.
And there is much that makes perfect sense to me.
I just know, that at times in life, we walk among the giants.
The earth is the mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it. — Chief Joseph
If we cannot now end our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. — John F. Kennedy
Here are the values that I stand for: honesty, equality, kindness, compassion, treating people the way you want to be treated and helping those in need. To me, those are traditional values. — Ellen DeGeneres