Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Women of Substance and Power

I just heard that Rosa Parks, the mother of the civil rights movement, died this morning. We all know the story. She refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white man, was arrested and jailed, and intentionally or not provided the spark that ignited the civil rights movement in Alabama and throughout the South.

Her story was that she was just too tired to get up when the white man demanded her seat. You can read her account of it all in her book: Quiet Strength. I wonder, though. I certainly don't think she was dissembling, but I do think she didn't give herself enough credit. If you're that tired, don't you back away from confrontation? I would. Yet she found the strength of character to do the right thing. Her genteel, gentle power revealed itself to all of us that day.

Sadako Sasaki was really just a little girl when she died (50 years ago, today), but she has become an international symbol for the peace movement. She was two when the atom bomb was dropped on Japan. When she was 11, she was diagnosed with leukemia, then called "the atom bomb disease." Her friend told Sadako about the legend that a person who folds 1000 paper cranes would be granted a wish. She folded well over 1000, as it happens, but she didn't realize her wish to run again.

There is a memorial to Sadako in Japan (and one in Seattle, too). The inscription at the Japanese memorial reads:
This is our cry.
This is our prayer.
Peace in the world.

I think Mrs. Parks would agree. Rest in peace, you women of substance and power.

Learn to make paper cranes here: Folding Paper Cranes. Read more about Sadako in this book: Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.

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