Planting Seeds

Mikki Morrissette (photo by Sarah Whiting)

During a recent visit to Washington D.C., my kids and I visited museums that reminded us how humanity can fail tremendously. After my return, I admitted to a friend that I despaired that patterns of behavior do not change — that the propensity of some to feel the right to own people and resource
for personal gain will not go away.

A few weeks later, I felt revitalized when I saw Toshi Reagon’s concert version of Octavia Butler’s “Parable of the Sower.” O’Shaughnessy Auditorium was filled. Among the audience were powerful Minnesota women who plant seeds of community. Many of us wept at the messages beautifully shared in song: All that you touch, you change; all that you change, changes you.

Those who feel a sense of entitlement to ownership of people and resources might continue to be a primary source of conflict. In shadow, this kind of abuse of power is enabled.

Yet shine a spotlight — with the light of community — and the ugliness can be called out. Peace comes from those who remind us how we can do better.

During the museum-hopping in D.C., my kids and I were reminded that private citizens took risks to help Jewish refugees during the Holocaust, when governments failed them.

A wall at the Newseum is dedicated to journalists imprisoned or killed sharing stories that needed to be told.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture showcases the strength of Emmett Till’s mother, Mamie, who insisted on a public, open- casket funeral in Chicago after her son’s murder in 1955. It was a steppingstone to the resistance of Rosa Parks on a bus four months later in Alabama. That act of courage segued to the strength of six-year- old Ruby Bridges in school integration in 1960 Louisiana.

All that you touch, you change; all that you change, changes you.

Calling Out the Little Man

In putting together this issue, I came across the story of Dorothy Thompson, one of the few women radio commentators in the 1930s, and the first American journalist to be expelled from Nazi Germany. She interviewed Adolf Hitler in 1931, and wrote about the dangers of him winning power. Her description of him: “He is formless, almost faceless, a man whose countenance is a caricature. He is inconsequent and voluble, ill poised and insecure. He is the very prototype of the little man.”

In 1935, Thompson said, “When our dictator turns up, you can depend on it that he will be one of the boys, and he will stand for everything traditionally American. Nobody will ever say ‘Heil’ to him, nor will they call him ‘Führer’ or ‘Duce.’ But they will greet him with one great big, universal, democratic, sheeplike bleat of ‘O.K., Chief! Fix it like you wanna!’”

The women in this month’s magazine are calling out littleness of the past and present. In the second half of 2019, our themes will focus on the future: what are the big ideas that women bring to replace what is little in our society?