In the mid '90s, I clipped out the back page of an Utne Reader magazine. It had a black and white photo of an infant crying and these words:
Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature,
nor do the children of men
as a whole experience it.
Avoiding danger is no safer
in the long run than outright exposure.
Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.
To keep our faces toward change and
behave like free spirits
in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.
I kept that clipping with me through University, through different relationships, through job changes... I took a moment to read it again today. Then I walked up to Municipal Hall and handed in my nomination papers.
These words from Helen Keller are rich enough to have meaning on their own. Many will find them even more stirring because Helen Keller overcame her disabilities to learn to read and write and speak. In the '90s, when I first read this quote, I was inspired to learn more about this remarkable woman.
Like many, I had read stories and seen The Miracle Worker. What I hadn't realized, was that this represented only a fraction of her remarkable life.
Helen Keller was an activist for social justice.
She was outspoken about peace and changing the economy to better support the poor.
She was a suffragette. She campaigned hard so that women could have the right to vote.
She travelled around the world raising funds for the blind.
She donated funds to the NAACP and worked to promote social equality.
She spoke out against Child Labour practices and spoke out in favour of working people organizing unions.
In 1912 she advocated for women to have access to birth control.
In 1918 she helped found the American Civil Liberties Union to fight for freedom of speech.
Much of her time was spent working on political campaigns, publishing her writing and leading protest marches and rallies.
Helen Keller did a whole lot more than just learn to read, write and speak. Helen Keller was a well known public figure who angered some and inspired others. She was a political woman who spoke passionately for what she believed in.
I find her absolutely fascinating.
October is Women in History Month. I think I'll head down to the library and see if there is anything on Helen Keller I haven't read yet.