by: Marceline DonaldsonI won’t say rest in peace. I will say I hope you are living your life after life in a heaven in which everyone is equal – where love abounds – where justice has no meaning because the evils of this life have all fallen away.
At the end of life, one begins to think of what has my life meant! Did I spend my time wisely? Did I work to make this world better for those I am leaving behind? Did I do justice, love mercy, walk humbly as I tread this earth? Can I expect to be welcomed in heaven because my life on earth was lived without making others feed my ego by feeling and acting better than?
I think Aileen can say yes to all of those questions. She worked hard and produced much. Not the material things in life, but those things which really count over the long term.
I first met Aileen in the 1970’s when I was elected to the National Board of NOW. Got to know her even better when I went to a national board meeting in San Francisco with my youngest daughter who was about 4 years old at the time – and we stayed with Aileen. The week we spent with Aileen was one I shall never forget. I could have decorated Aileen’s house, it was that comfortable and familiar. NOW members took turns during the meeting taking care of Jacqueline. NOW’s commitment was to making sure board members felt free enough to bring their children. We stayed in touch for a brief time after that, but then……
What most amazed me was her commitment to history. She had incredible files, unbelievably organized, of everything she had done which would be of interest to historians down the road. Her commitment to equality and justice was deep and dictated how she spent her time. I am very grateful to have met Aileen and to have had the chance to see and be involved – for a brief time – in her life. It was one of those times which changed mine.
When I met Aileen, we realized we had a lot in common. Both went to New York University. Both raised with parents who designed and sewed theatrical garments. Both loved fashion – probably as a result of that upbringing. Both had a passion for doing what we could to change this world for the better – and so much more. She was a mentor for me and I am sure for many other women. I count myself as being blessed to have had mentors, throughout this life who have been strong, committed, beautiful people with an understanding of how we are all related and all working to bring about equality, justice, love for one another.
Writing these memorials is becoming a much too often occurrence. I guess I have reached that time of life when people you know leave – frequently – for a different place and then it is time to fill those gaps in your memory because other things took precedence and you are left regretting not having called. That is happening to me far too often.
That speaks to the way we have ordered our lives. the activity, the action, the cause, the work of the moment becomes all consuming and involvement with friends from a lifetime ago gets pushed back for another day. And the surprise and regret comes when you realize that day is not coming until your eyes close for the last time.
Aileen’s work and accomplishments were many and huge. She was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. Twenty years from now, that newly coming to adulthood generation will look back to ask why she did not receive the acolades to measure her life’s work. And the answer will be clear. She was a woman who worked hard for women’s rights, equal rights and justice for minorities and for the union movement. That combination is lethal in this society. We don’t want to hold up such icons because they might just become the trail blazers to attract our children to become like them.
Aileen Hernandez, Pauli Murray and others have clearly shown the sexist lie to the now re-surfacing comments about the feminist movement being a white women’s movement. The gains of that movement have had to push through racism, classism, xenophobia, homophobia and more to be achieved and even then those gains have been tenuous as the next generation tries to negate and destroy that move forward which freed us all for a brief moment.
Thank you, Aileen, for having been so consistent in your life and your work. Thank you for being one of those bright lights and beacon to all of us showing us how to walk through some difficult times. Thank you for having the courage to be one of those founding NOW at a time when the fight for the equality for women sorely needed such an organization. Thank you for being there at a time in my life when I needed mentors, showing me there is a path you can follow because others have been there and walked through the stuff that gets thrown at you as a strong feminist and that gets thrown from all sides.
I know those greeting you on the other side are rejoicing and celebrating your life on this earth.
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A Current Example of Bullying – Trump and Macron!Thursday, April 26th, 2018
Emmanuel and Brigitte Macron are back in France and have left the American public with lots to talk about and even more to think through.
President Trump has a way of bullying those who arrive as “important guests” both domestic and foreign from the moment he holds out his hand to shake theirs. The only person on whom he did not use this bullying handshake was Vladimir Putin. Trump has a bullying handshake where he makes the person on the other side wince as he pulls their arm and then the rest of their body towards him with one of the most bullying handshakes I have ever seen.
Emmanuel Macron was no exception. Macron, however, has made it his mission not be bullied by this handshake nor to be passive in an attitude of acceptance with a “this too shall pass” sub-text. He has taken on Trump’s handshake and given back which, during this visit, resulted in an amazing display.
The media and many others took it as a “bromance”. To say they missed the point is to say they exist in a society which accepts and does its best to ignore and deny sexual abuse in its many forms. That is exactly what we saw Emmanuel Macron put through during his trip to these United States.
President Macron, however, gave the country an exquisite example of how to handle such a bullying. Bullying of all kind will be with us forever if we don’t start calling it what it is when we see someone being bullied instead of finding other ways to describe what we know is an act of unashamed bullying. That could have been an example of a woman being abused and I think the media would have talked about a budding romance instead of stepping in to stop the atrocity – which is what we saw acted out before the world.
Trump’s initial handshake was returned in kind and Trump’s bullying was on high display as he responded to the need to push Macron down to puff himself up – in front of the world. I hope others have the guts and insight to come forward to condemn the display President Trump put on as his ego kept pushing him to uglier heights. Not even children would have participated in that dandruff act.
Not to be deterred by how ugly he was appearing to all, Mr. Trump continued trying to oppress and subjugate President Macron and Macron’s response should be in a book on bullying as one person’s way of brilliantly handling an extremely distressful and continuous almost non-stop display of oppression and bullying. Instead of seeing and commenting on what was actually happening, the media continued to claim – “they must like each other.”
Beginning with the handshake, Trump practically bowled Macron over as he tried to pull him towards himself. Macron responded by maintaining and giving back to Trump what he got from the handshake and responding and making it about the ‘French Kiss” by putting his arm around Trump and kissing him on both cheeks. Since it seems possible that Trump goes both ways, President Macron’s attempts didn’t land the way he intended.
and on and on it went.
Clearly, Macron’s response – his coup de grace – was put forward during his speech to the American Congress during which Macron laid out his policies and ideas including almost all of Trump’s policy stances and the beliefs Trump has made a part of his ‘reign’ as president. President Emmanuel Macron’s stances were totally opposite to Donald Trump’s. In giving that speech, President Macron did not wince, pull back, chance his beliefs, etc. He was forthright, forthcoming and clear and he had the American Congress with him – showing where they really stood when any possible attempts at blackmail, bullying, pushing were removed and one could respond as one felt.
Clearly, Melanie Trump showed she was truly the wife and soul mate of Donald Trump when she appeared in the white suit with hat which at one point moved Brigitte Macron out of the picture. When she appeared with “the Don” it was clear the arrogance and posturing of one was totally acceptable and generated pride in the other. They appeared in a strong statement which looked totally out of place for the company, the situation, the reflection of herself as hostess. She was clearly uncaring about Brigitte Macron and was only out to outshine and put forth her worth – which she apparently holds as her body and what she puts on it. The sexist male – the misogynist male has a female counterpart whose chief value is invested in how she looks. It was an outsized look and had a very hard edge which did not show as the hostess, but as the guest attempting to outshine all the other guests.
In his speech to Congress, President Macron came across as human, compassionate and seriously working to make this a better world for the least of these. His wife, Brigitte, looked like a caring, compassionate and serious person who was working with her husband and while her dress was quite elegant, it was also very human. She was not trying to outshine, outdo, send out an image to puff herself up or any of that. She was dressed in a lovely “human’ way. The contrast was astounding.
As I looked at all of that my mind brought me back to Barbara Bush’s funeral and life. Her funeral, for me, was a brief moment of public respite. At the end, she gave us a time to reflect, to think, to move away from the upheaval – panic – intensity of nothingness – the passionate hiding of something unsavory. There was no name calling; no trying to upstage and outshine; no arrogance; no posturing; just people coming to witness to the life of someone they knew either as a close friend or in her capacity as mother, wife, First Lady, volunteer, helper to those in need, etc. Somehow, I could not see Melanie Trump ever being such a lovely, humble person who knew who she was and presented herself not as an artificial model using her body to sell whatever it was she was selling. The hat ruined the suit and showed a person with a very hard edge who was anything but a warm, caring human being. I have yet to see any of those qualities in either Melanie or Donald Trump and that white hat and suit emphasized the arrogance, artificiality and lying image of the couple. What is a ‘lying image”? Presenting oneself as an image projecting not who you are but projecting that which one needs to show to make public one’s concept of power and control and that ‘better than’ attitude so constantly projected by the Kushner/Trump family.
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Tags: Barbara Bush, Bettina Homes, Bettina Network's Lifestyle Community, breakfast table talk, Brigitte Macron, Donald Trump, Emmanuel Macron, Melania Trump, politics
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