As International Women's Day comes and goes, I'm reminded of what Mark Twain was once asked: "What would men be without women?" Mr. Twain replied, "Scarce, sir, mighty scarce." I believe his statement is wiser than a mere jape about the facts of life.
I think of my mother, Julia Pirnack, who worked hard her entire life from humble beginnings to finish college after her children were born, find good jobs in excellent school districts, and uphold the virtues of civic duty and personal integrity. She is now the Mayor of Longmont. Now my mother is not only one of the most influential women in my own life, but also in the lives of those who have put their trust in her to make decisions for the city. And she does so gracefully and nobly.
I think about the contributions that women have done for our country and the important hallmarks that granted us their insight, their grace, and their perseverance against adversity. In 1788, the United States was the first country to allow women to run for office. Since 1920, the U.S. has allowed women to vote. The various stages of the Civil Rights Movement were due in large part to the efforts of U.S. women. I think of the late Rosa Parks, of Susan B. Anthony and Helen Keller; I think of Sandra Day O'Connor and Eleanor Roosevelt.
When I think about Mark Twain's quip, even more comes to mind. I think of the horrible conditions that women endure in the more warlike nations. I think about the lack of civil liberties for women. The women of these intolerant countries are not free to hold office or to protest or to challenge the patriarchal status quo. I wonder what comes first: civilized society or women's rights? When I think upon my life, I realize that it is women who have tempered my anger when the world seemed unjust and it is the women who have encouraged me to become the best I can be, be it academically, spiritually, or morally.
I think of how miserable those countries must be without the influence of women. What would men be without women? Look to the most hateful of nations and you'll see. Men would be nasty and brutish, and their lives short.