A child’s education should begin at least one hundred years before
he[she] is born.
Oliver Wendell Holmes
When viewed from a perch of love, gradual independence is a feeling of pride, anxiety, and hope. A few days ago, I handed my car keys to my oldest daughter and watched her drive (on her own) for the first time. She passed the time-honored milestone of obtaining a driver’s license. One more step forward on the road to adulthood.
One more responsibility.
My oldest is very focused when she drives. No music. No radio. Just the road (she’s a rule follower). I think she appreciates the quiet. In that way, she takes after her mom’s side of the family. My father-in-law loves driving long distances with silence.
Not me. I am an NPR junkie. Much to both daughters’ consternation, I talk at the radio, make pauses, give them mini-history lessons, quiz them about politics, and generally skip anything relating to pop culture. Sucks to have a history teacher father.
I’ve been thinking about Oliver Wendell Holmes’ quote this week. Beyond the license milestone, Monica’s 17 months away from turning eighteen. While she can’t vote in this coming presidential election, the next one is fair game (for Kelly too).
It’s fair game because 100 years ago, the 19th amendment passed. A woman’s right to vote was enshrined in our Constitution. (Nerdy aside, it’s also fair game because of the 26th amendment giving 18-year olds the right to vote). We live in a better world because women’s voices translate into power.
Women’s suffrage was a long slog in this country. Every time the United States has expanded the right to vote to different people groups, there’s been a backlash. That, too, needs to be part of a child’s education.
Especially when our current president (and many in the Republican Party) are actively making it difficult to vote. This week, President Trump - likely with no sense of irony - issued a presidential pardon to famous suffragist Susan B Anthony.
Objection! Mr. President, Susan B. Anthony must decline your offer of a pardon today.
Anthony wrote in her diary in 1873 that her trial for voting was “The greatest outrage History ever witnessed.” She was not allowed to speak as a witness in her own defense, because she was a woman. At the conclusion of arguments, Judge Hunt dismissed the jury and pronounced her guilty. She was outraged to be denied a trial by jury. She proclaimed, “I shall never pay a dollar of your unjust penalty.” To pay would have been to validate the proceedings. To pardon Susan B. Anthony does the same.
If one wants to honor Susan B. Anthony today, a clear stance against any form of voter suppression would be welcome. Enforcement and expansion of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 would be celebrated, we must assure that states respect the 14th, 15th, and 19th Amendments to the United States Constitution. Support for the Equal Rights Amendment would be well received. Advocacy for human rights for all would be splendid. Anthony was also a strong proponent of sex education, fair labor practices, excellent public education, equal pay for equal work, and elimination of all forms of discrimination.
Bonus Holmes' Aphorism
A man’s mind, stretched by a new idea, never goes back to its original dimensions.