With Words, She Made a Difference

This week’s woman of peace is author Lydia Maria Child (1802-1880). One of the most influential American women writers from the 1820s through the 1860s she was a prolific author, a literary pioneer, and a tireless crusader and champion for America’s excluded groups. With words, she made a difference.  Early Life Born on February 11, 1802 in Medford, Massachusetts, she was the youngest of six children. Her father, Convers Francis, was stern and religiously orthodox. Susannah (Rand) Francis, her mother, was ill and distant. Her mother died when Lydia was twelve.  After her mother’s death, they sent Lydia to live with a married sister in Maine. Norridgewock, a frontier society, exposed Lydia to a small community of impoverished Abenaki and Penobscot Indians.  Lydia moved back to Massachusetts at nineteen. She lived with her brother Convers, a scholarly Unitarian minister. Her brother guided her education in literary masters such as Homer and Milton. She reportedly hated the name Lydia. So when she converted to Unitarism and was re-baptised, she gave herself the name of Maria. She chose to go by Maria  (Ma-RYE-a) from then on. Early Career Lydia read an article in the North American Review discussing the field offered to the novelist by early New England history. That […]

The Best Way You Can Not Feel Helpless

Fred Rogers said, “Look for the helpers” (see last week’s post). But you can do more than that. You can be a helper. Being a helper, not expecting anything in return, is a mindset, a responsibility, and an expression of love. To paraphrase former President Barack Obama said the best way you can not feel helpless is to help others. To me, there are saints every day. They stand up and help others and live for others and do things for others. Theodore Melfi Your Mindset Service to others is a mindset. You don’t have to belong to a specific religion or even have a lot of money. All you need is the desire to help and the willingness to get up and do something. No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another. Charles Dickens The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well. Ralph Waldo Emerson Volunteer “The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If […]

The First Female Nobel Peace Prize Winner

In 1905, Baroness Bertha Sophie Felicita von Suttner became the second female Nobel laureate and the first female Nobel Peace Prize winner. She she wrote and passionately argued for world peace. She is the next subject in this month’s look at women of peace. Background Born June 9, 1843 in Prague, Austrian Empire, she was the daughter of a count in the Austrian military.  Her mother’s family came from untitled nobility, making Bertha of “mixed” descent according to the standards of high Austrian aristocrats of the day.  Education While her family struggled financially, a cousin whose father was a private tutor moved in with her family. He taught Bertha literature and philosophy. Fluent in French, Italian and English, she also became a pianist and singer. She wanted to be an opera singer, but her stage fright prevented her from making opera singing a career. First Published Her first published work, the novella Endertraüme im Monde, appeared in Die Deutsche Frau in 1859. In Love She found employment as a tutor and companion to the four teenaged daughters of Karl von Suttner in 1873. She fell in love with the girls’ elder brother, Arthur Gundacca who was seven years her junior. Neither of their families […]