Yesterday was what might be called A Very Good Day. When I went to the town office to pay the registration for the car, I discovered I only had to pay $96, almost half of what I expected to pay. After that, it was on to the library, where I received a little money from card sales. (Clif and I have developed a line of library cards, where half the money goes to the library and half to us. It’s not a huge fundraiser, but it helps promote the library, near and far. )
Finally, the cherry on the sundae, so to speak, was when a missing library book I had borrowed was found, right on Shane’s desk. The book’s barcode is old and faulty, and the book wouldn’t scan into the system. I had put the book in the library’s book bin, which meant Shane had no idea who had returned the book. But now he knows, and my record is clear, Such a relief!
In the afternoon, my friend Barbara came over for coffee, and she brought chocolate peanut butter cupcakes. Among other things, we talked about the women’s suffrage movement and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, two leaders of the movement. They both died before women got the right to vote in 1920 with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. Stanton died in 1902, and Anthony died in 1906.
It made me a little a teary-eyed to think of how they didn’t live long enough to see the results of their hard work. It’s also a lesson to the rest of us. The improvements to society that we work on, big or small, might not happen in our lifetime, but that doesn’t mean we should give up on them.
Sometimes, I think, we are too impatient. We want results, and we want them now. When there are great injustices, this point of view is completely understandable, but the “arc of the moral universe” can be very long indeed. Martin Luther King Jr., who wrote those words, would not live to see the first African-American president. Yet he worked timelessly for civil rights that would allow for the possibility of the first African-American president.
We can’t all be great leaders like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, or Martin Luther King Jr. But we can work in our own communities and do what we can to improve them. I feel that my work on behalf of the library makes Winthrop a better town. Last month, the library’s circulation was 5,764. Not bad for a town of 6,000. (The population does increase in the summer because of our beautiful lakes.)
For other people, it might be some other work that benefits the community. I think of Jason, of the blog Garden in the City, and his lovely gardens, a gift of beauty to those who live in his neighborhood. There’s Bill, of Practicing Resurrection, who grows and sells organic vegetables. For that matter, there is our own Farmer Kev, who does the very same thing in Winthrop, and his partner Kate, who will be teaching art in middle school this year. This list could go on and on.
I’m gong to end with a Gladys Taber quotation: “I cannot influence the world. I can only live every day as well as I can, keeping my home, cherishing my neighbors, helping the community in a small way.”
And in Gladys Taber’s case, her wise words, written in the 1950s, do, in fact, make the world a better place.