You’re Lucky They’re Born Now

This seems like such a fraught moment in time. There was a pandemic. There’s been civil unrest. It feels like institutions are falling apart. Naturally, this scares us as parents. We’d like the world to be safe, serene, and secure for our children.

One way to look at the world before us is with fear and anger. But the other way is with a kind of gratitude, a kind of determination.

Emmeline Pankhurst, the great British suffragette, recalled being born in the middle of the 19th century–a time of disruption, inequality, and upheaval. She remembered her mother taking her to an event to raise money and relief for newly freed slaves across the Atlantic, right after the American Civil War. “Those men and women are fortunate who are born at a time when a great struggle for human freedom is in progress,” Pankhurt would write in her memoirs. “It is an added good fortune to have parents who take a personal part in the movements of their time.”

Some years later, when Pankhurst became a mother herself, she tried to follow her parents’ example. Side-by-side, Emmaline and her daughter Christabel, fought for women’s rights, fighting tirelessly–even going to jail and being force fed while on hunger strike–in the struggle for the right to vote. This wasn’t easy. Her opponents certainly gave her reasons to despair about humanity, despair about the potential world she was leaving to her children and generations after.

But she didn’t give into that. She didn’t wallow in pity. She did something about it. She raised children who did something about it. She counted herself and them lucky to have the opportunity to do so. She took more than a part in the movement of her time…she led them.

When it comes to our children, so must we.

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