Brian’s Reflection: Monday, November 7, 2011
I want to stand by my country, but I cannot vote for war.
As a woman I can't go to war, and I refuse to send anyone else.
Jeannette Pickering Rankin; on this date, 1916, age 36, she was
elected Republican Congresswoman from Montana, the first
woman elected to Congress, and the first woman elected to a
national legislature in any western democracy. She was the only
legislator to vote against war.
Ms. Rankin was elected 4 years before the passage of the 19th Amendment, forbidding restricting the vote on the basis of gender. The first quote is from her vote re the USA entering WWI, four days after taking office. The second was her vote re entering WWII, after she had been re-elected. In between, she worked tirelessly for Women’s Suffrage, and for Peace.
I think her first vote expresses her principles, including her feminine perspective. (I would have voted to enter WWI; but I deeply value her patriotic stand against war.) And the second, her frustration at the, to the present, continuing refusal to see women for what they are by nature and should be by cultural and political reality: Equal.
But there is a profound Christian dimension, from my point of view. War is unacceptable to any God Whose essence is defined as Unconditional Love ….. in other words, the God of the Gospel of Peace. War may be a fact, but War is never morally or spiritually acceptable, and we must face into our failure.
Our culture (and our religion) is chock full of – in my view - false heroes. To me, whether she so deliberately intended to support the Gospel or not, Jeannette Pickering Rankin is one of my spiritual heroes. When I think of her, and of all she suffered because of her votes, I can only number her among the those of whom Jesus spoke in the Beatitudes when He said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for my sake”.
I wish she were here today.