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Updated: Mar 13

This is Women's History Month in the US. I'm so pleased that it began in 1978 as a local celebration in Santa Rosa, California in my state and not far from where I live.

The week's celebration commenced officially when signed into law by then-President Jimmy Carter (always a hero of mine; I have an extra book by him in case anyone is interested because it, like my book, was signed by him in person -- the only President I have ever met, and we shared a few words). Then in March 1987 the federal Congress passed Public Law 100-9, designating March as “Women’s History Month.”

Since I had my consciousness raised in the 60s in womens' liberation discussion groups, I continue to advocate for the self-determination and safety of all women. Accordingly, I continue to focus on and update the "Women in Music" section of my website, and welcome all suggestions for additions thereto.

So, one could wonder why another theme appears in the current poem below and in this blog?

Because there is a more important foundational question to address today, inspired by a Sunday, March 10 New York Times opinion article, not to mention the film "Oppenheimer" that just won the Academy Award for Best Picture of the Year:

It goes without saying - but deserves reminding ourselves as this article does - that if we are dead or maimed, we cannot enjoy anything, much less Women's History Month, or progress in civil rights, or delights of any kind, including music. That's why I've always valued above all, life and health (including public health), and tried diligently to live those values as best I can.

This remarkable New York Times article linked above and cited in the footnote of the below poem which it inspired, is worth a read.

For those of us born by at least 1952, thus at the minimum school age of ten, and for some years after, we will likely remember the delicate state of the world and the inordinate fear of the Cuban Missile Crises which occurred in1962.

I do. I was 19 and in my first year of college. The incessant sirens and "get under the school desk" drills were horrifying.

Then we had a few decades of apparent peace during the Cold War. Fear of total annihilation by nuclear war is non-existent for those born after about 1952.

However, peace, and women's general values and life experiences of cooperation, communication, and caring, recently seem to be going nowhere in world and national politics or society. It's easy to feel defeated - and sometimes I do.

Then I rally.

Perhaps the best we can do is hang onto the belief of the second-wave feminists from the 60s, that "the personal is political" and each woman and man do our individual best to act and speak out for peace.

Then maybe we can get back to fully enjoying music, poetry, and other of life's supreme delights.


Postscript: Perhaps we can take heart and find inspiration to do our small part for peace at the local level, at least when it comes to caring about others - and expressing it! Consider the news item of March 12 about "The Bench Guys" active in the East Bay, CA (Darrell Owens and Mingwei Samuels). They noticed an older neighbor, post surgery, sitting on the curb at a bus stop because there was no place to sit, so they learned how to build benches and are going about installing them! They didn't ask permission and didn't wait for a typically-bureaucratic $100,000 "study to explore the feasibility of XYZ." Nor were they daunted by initiating the project four months ago in November in San Francisco on Lake Street, a "slow street", but in front of "the worst hater's" house. After a few moves, the bench still exists, but on Page Street. "'It's easy to feel helpless in the world with all the stuff that's going on, and this is just a way to make the world a better place,' Samuel said.'"  They take inspiration from Chris Duderstadt, the creator about 30 years ago of the Public Bench Project.



Left in the dark we plan for the worst.*

We hope for the best but prepare for the hurt,

maximizing capabilities for offense and defense

imagining the extremes to which our enemies are bent.

Thus our time is spent in wasteful ways  

responding to hyperbolic transgressive displays

that lend no way for communication

as a hope to avert destruction upon provocation.

Not desire of heart nor good-willed men

nor women seem to avoid such disastrous trend

in world politics – but also is evident

in personal relationships, as many seem bent.

We ghost each other, leaving questions dangling,

we say half truths no better than lying,

or if not that, at least misleading,

leaving others to wonder if that’s evident deceiving?

We hide in privacy, needs exceeding

what’s justified by reason, thus imagine future bleeding

if we take the first step to say our full truth,

and trust but believe what the facts denote.

In innocent or evil acts there's confusion–

but do we give in, or tolerate continuing delusion?

How about speaking up for reason and peace

and starting at home, from isolation we decease?


*For a frightening (at best) descriptions of the state

of nuclear risk in the world by the spring of 2024,

consider “Confronting a New Nuclear Age”

by Kathleen Kingsbury, New York Times Opinion Section



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