It Takes a Village

It Takes a Village

Pentecost 124

 

It is an old African folk tale set to music. The father is out in the field and the mother is at the well. The grandmother is at the market hoping not only to purchase but also to sell. A neighbor is watching the children who are playing out in the yard. An old man comes by and stops to tell them a story because he likes to make them laugh. His story has a moral, though, and that is when they are down by the river, they need to look out for the crocodiles. The moral of the song is the unity with which everyone comes together for the children. In Africa, there is an old saying: “It takes a whole village to raise a child.”

 

Two years ago the town of Ocean City, Maryland celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of its Play-It-Safe Ocean City program. Designed for graduating high school seniors, the three week-long program involves area merchants, local volunteers, state and county agencies and volunteers to assist with the free events for the young people. Seniors can come for one week and are given a booklet with free coupons for food and a schedule of events, all designed to help seniors celebrate their high school graduation in a drug-free environment. Free bus passes are included to help those participating navigate the city. Free events available to the seniors include free roller coaster rides, tye-dye t-shirt events, pizza eating contest, dance party, tennis tourney, laser tag mini golf, regular mini golf, dodge ball, Splash Mountain, 3-on-3 basketball tourney, beach volleyball, wind surfing, kayak relays, moonlight bowling, and karaoke.

 

In a world where many feel afraid of their neighbors, Ocean City, Maryland had adopted the African slogan and made it a celebration. Celebrating in 2014 their twenty-fifth year, seniors from sixteen states and the District of Columbia arrived to attend this event. Sixty thousand brochures advertising the program were sent out and twenty thousand Passport to Fun Booklets distributed. There were over forty-eight planned drug-free and alcohol-free events for the eighty-three hundred-plus attendees at no charge. This was made possible by the over three hundred businesses, organizations, and individuals who contributed services, money, and prizes. Over three hundred and fifty volunteers, private citizens, assisted as well as the employees of state, county, and municipal agencies.

 

Over two thousand hours, half by volunteers, make this village-sponsored event a reality.  The residents of the area saw a need for healthy fun events for graduating seniors along the east coast and worked together to make an ordinary summer extraordinary.  They not only identified a need, they took action to make the solution to that need possible.

 

Out of all the holidays we celebrate, the holiday of Kwanzaa celebrates family, both the family we are biologically known to have but also the family of community.  During Kwanza, seven candles are lit, the first being the black candle. The remaining candles, three red and three green flank the black candle. The red candles represent the principles of self-determination, cooperative economics and creativity and are placed to the left of the center black candle. To the right are the green candles which represent collective work and responsibility, purpose, and faith. This is to show that people come first, and then the struggle and finally, the hope that comes from the struggle.

 

The program in Ocean City, Maryland, is not simple. I can assure you that there are struggles. Weather delays are just one of the many surprises that life sometimes offers. However, year after year, the people and the agencies of the area continue to do this for students from outside their neighborhood. All this comes from a town of less than twelve thousand year-round residents striving to provide high school seniors a safe yet fun way to celebrate their high school graduation.

 

The world with all the modern technology has gotten smaller and now it is as easy to travel half way around the world as it was for our parents to travel one hundred miles to a cousin’s house. The celebration of Kwanza is not just for those of African descent but for us all. We all need to remember that we had help getting to where we are and that we need to help others. Television has many so-called reality shows about people who want to live “off the grid” and yet, they are so popular because these people end up needing someone.

 

It is a fact that we need each other.  None of us are born alone.  Life is a team sport and perhaps, as we take part in the festivities of the season we will remember that we also take part in a greater celebration about the family of man called life. It really does take a village, not only to raise a child but to help an adult in their living as well.  We each play a vital role and not only need but are needed.  You have value.  You can make a difference.

 

 

 

 

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A Bridge

Building Bridges

Pentecost 62

 

Egypt is the only trans-Asian country which means is spans two continents – Africa and Asia.  The Sinai Peninsula forms a land bridge of sorts connecting the northeastern corner of Africa with the southwestern corner of Asia.  Technically, Egypt is the world’s only Eur-afra-sian country since it is bordered by the Mediterranean on the north as it shares a northern border with the Gaza strip and Israel, the Gulf of Aqaba to the east, the Red Sea to the south as well as Sudan, and Libya on the west.

 

Egypt is located in what historians and anthropologists call the cradle of civilization.  Its history is as long as any nation and it became one of the world’s first cultural and ethnic entities while at the same time becoming one of the first actual political and geographical countries.  At one time or another, Egypt has been ruled and influenced by Greek, Persian, Roman, Arab, Ottoman, and European cultures.  Its eighty-nine million residents were some of the first Christians but Islamic conquests during the seventh century made it an Islamic nation.

 

Most Egyptian territory lies within the Sahara Desert which is largely uninhabitable.  The majority of Egyptians live near the banks of the Nile River.  The world’s longest river, the Nile is thought to be the result of climate change in the earth’s early history.  The historian Herodotus called Egypt is the “gift of the Nile” and for many, it is considered the gift of the world.  Hate mathematics?  Blame an early Egyptian whose artifacts left writings resembling early multiplication and a series of numbers looking like multiples of ten.  In fact, it is hard to find something that does not have an Egyptian connection.  Egypt was a major trade country with its borders on seas and the Nile.  Early Egyptians cultivated wheat and made paper from papyrus.  Water buffalo from Africa and camels from Asia only served to intensify the multicultural aspect of life in early Egypt.  European expeditions waited until Napoleon to discover Egypt although certainly trading with Asia and India introduced some aspects of Egyptian life prior to this.

 

Many of us only know Egypt from the big and small screen.  Movies about the early Christians with the actor Charleston Heston and later music videos by Michael Jackson starring comedian Eddie Murphy and supermodel Iman do little to tell the true story of Egypt.  The ancient name for the country is from a word meaning black soil, and is best written as “km.t”.  This was to distinguish the land of Egypt from the desert area or red soil.  The English version of the country’s name comes from an ancient Greek word “Aigyptos” which dates back to the French “Egypte” and Latin “Aegyptus”.   Early Greek tablets show it written as “a-ku-pi-ti-yo” which became the Coptic “gyptios” and the Arabic “qubti”.  The official name of Egypt is “Misr” which translates as metropolis, civilization, or country.

 

Bridging the two continents and the various cultures involved has resulted in a history full of conflict.  It has not gotten easier as time has progressed.  We must learn to build figurative bridges and join all the cultures of the world if we are to move forward and have a future.  Egyptian-American writer Suzy Kassem explains: “It is up to us to keep building bridges to bring the world closer together, and not destroy them to divide us further apart. We can pave new roads towards peace simply by understanding other cultures. This can be achieved through traveling, learning other languages, and interacting with others from outside our borders. Only then will one truly discover how we are more alike than different. Never allow language or cultural traditions to come between brothers and sisters. The same way one brother may not like his sister’s choice of fashion or hairstyle, he will never hate her for her personal style or music preference. If you judge a man, judge only his heart. And if you should do so, make sure you use the truth in your conscience when weighing one’s character. Do not measure anybody strictly based on the bad you see in them and ignore all the good.”

 

A shaman was quoted as saying, “A story is like the wind: it comes from a distant place and we feel it.”  Today you will write the story of you.  You may not have control over the setting, the characters, or even the action to a large part, but you do have control over yourself.  We make a choice each and every hour whether to act or simply react.  Steve Jobs said it best:  “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

 

Today you will add a chapter to the mythology of that which is you.  More importantly, today will offer you opportunities to build bridges.  As you write the story that is you, as you develop the lot lines of your life, you will bridge the past with the present and pave a road by which we will enter the future.  The bridges you build today will connect all of mankind and turn the ordinary into something esxtraordinary.

 

Ubuntu

Ubuntu

Pentecost 47

 

Once again this blog has been silent for several days out of respect for those injured, maimed, and killed due to misplaced beliefs.  I have, however, decided that this best way to honor these victims and their families is to speak out against that which is responsible for their pain.  Lest you think I am going political, be assured that I am not.  This blog has always been humanitarian in nature with an emphasis on spirituality and beliefs and that has not changed.  However, the world seems to have forgotten that at the core of all such concepts is respect.  It is time to speak up and out to advance the cause of respect and unity in being a member of the family of mankind.

 

Ubuntu is for many younger adults and hipsters just a software platform that helps them run programs on everything from a smart phone to a laptop or tablet.  It has gained popularity because it is free and a community driven operating system that encourages sharing.  Ubuntu is much more than that, however, and much older than any mechanical operating system.

 

Ubuntu came to the world stage in 1993 in 1993 when the negotiators of the South African Interim Constitution wrote: ‘there is a need for understanding but not for vengeance, a need for reparation but not for retaliation, a need for ubuntu but not for victimization.”  This passage in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Act 200 of 1993: Epilogue after Section 251 was specifically addressing apartheid and the racial hierarchy and segregation that resulted from apartheid.

 

Ubuntu is a word common to several African cultures and each has its own way of defining it.  It is a humanist concept and even the Interim Constitution did not specifically define it.  Generally ubuntu refers to behaving well towards others or acting in ways that benefit the community. Such acts could be as simple as helping a stranger in need, or much more complex ways of relating with others. A person who behaves in these ways has ubuntu. He or she is a full person.  Bishop Desmond Tutu explained:  “My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in what is yours”.

 

There is a story that an anthropologist proposed a game while visiting a tribe in Africa.  He tied a basket of fruit to a nearby tree and then told the children of the tribe that whoever reached the tree first could have all the fruit.  The children quickly gathered hands and ran together.  Once they reached the tree they sat down in a circle and shared the fruit.  When asked why they did not elect to keep the fruit to themselves the anthropologist was told:  “Ubuntu!  How can one of us be happy if the rest are sad?”

 

Throughout history violence has been used as an answer.  It is not.  It is a cessation for a period of time but it solves no problem, just creates more.  No illnesses have ever been cured by violence.  No life-saving discoveries came from the firing of a weapon.  No bomb ever aimed created more beautiful life.

 

The story of the children sitting in a circle should be a metaphor for all of mankind living on this planet.  We may not seem to be sitting in a circle yet we live in a circle and what disastrous effects one experiences will eventually affect us all.

 

In 1995 the South African Constitutional Court ruled that ubuntu was important because “it was against the background of the loss of respect for human life and the inherent dignity which attaches to every person that a spontaneous call has arisen among section of the community for a return to ubuntu”.  The recent “(insert here your special group) Lives Matter” campaign is a modern day American version of a call to ubuntu.

 

All life matters.  In Zimbabwe the word for ubuntu is unhu. Unhu involves recognizing the humanity in another in order to have it in yourself.   All are respected and treated as one would wish to be treated and the concept has many rules of what many might consider etiquette or tribal law.  In Kinyarwanda, the mother tongue in Rwanda, and In Kirundi, the mother tongue in Burundi, ubuntu refers to human generosity and a spirit of humaneness or humanity.  Runyakitara is the collection of dialects spoken by the Banyankore, Banyoro, Batooro and Bakiga of Western Uganda and also the Bahaya, Banyambo and others of Northern Tanzania.  In these dialects “obuntu” refers to the human characteristics of generosity, consideration and humane-ness towards others in the community. Luganda is the dialect of Central Uganda and its “obuntu-bulamu” refers to the same characteristics.

 

Basically, though, if you ask someone on the African continent what ubuntu is they will say it means “I am because we are.”  Over the past month we have had much misery and we all have felt sad.  The time has come, though, to dry our tears and respond with humanity and positive action.  The world needs our generosity and kind treatment of others.  While evil is calling for more terror, we need to send out a call for ubuntu, for kindness, for respect, for love, for life.  Only ubuntu can make this ordinary time extraordinary.  Only by living ubuntu will humanity defeat evil.

A Drop in the Bucket

A Drop in the Bucket

Pentecost 27

 

Odds are that between the time you awakened and the time you are reading this, you drank something that was water-based or was cleaned in water.  If so, then consider yourself very lucky.  All over the world in industrialized nations, people get up out of bed, get ready to start their day, and then are off to live that day, never thinking about the water they consumed or used to make that possible.

 

Leonardo da Vinci once described water as “the driving force of all nature”.  IN times of drought or contamination, we tend to value water more than usual but we still consider it something that will be there.  The statistics about a person’s access to clean water are staggering… and not in a good way.

 

To put the following statistics into perspective, consider this sobering fact:  Women and children spend one hundred and twenty-five million hours each day collecting water, 125 million hours.  One out of every ten people on this planet lack access to safe water.  That is a staggering six hundred and sixty-three million people.  One in three or almost two and a half billion people lack access to a toilet.

 

Let’s consider these numbers in more recognizable terms.  Twice the population of the United States of America lives without access to safe water.  In other words, more people own a cell or mobile phone than have access to a toilet.  Recently efforts were made to correct this.  However, follow-up research of rural water systems being sustained in eight countries in Africa, South America, and Central America discovered an average failure rate of water projects begun to be between twenty and forty percent.  That means almost half of all efforts to turn this problem around have not succeeded even though one dollar invested in water and proper sanitation yields a four dollar economic return.  That is a four hundred percent return on the investment of safe water and sanitation facilities.

 

Worldwide one-third of all schools operate with safe water or adequate sanitation facilities.  Ever ninety seconds a child dies from a water-related disease.  In low and middle income countries, one-third of healthcare facilities are without safe water.  This has resulted in the World Economic Forum last year declaring the water crisis the “#1 Global Risk” because of its impact of the societies of the world.

 

This is not someone else’s problem.  This is our problem – we who comprise the population of this planet.  So what can you do?  If you saved one dollar every day for thirteen weeks and one day, and then donated that money to Wells Bring Hope, a nonprofit which drills wells in rural communities of Niger, West Africa, you could provide three children with safe water for a lifetime.  One hundred dollars is all it would take to make sure those three children did not become a negative statistic. Perhaps writing or speaking is more your style.  Donate three hours and help the organization gain more contributors and/or grand funding.

 

Fountains of Hope International will use your one hundred dollars for provide clean drinking water for two hundred people for five years.  It is a nonprofit that installs water-purification systems around the globe.  After the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti that installed over fifty purificators.  In Kenya, they provided fifteen purification systems in HIV/AIDS orphanages and refugee camps near the Somalian border.  This organization targets women and orphans, seeking to help the children of the world.

 

Well Aware is an Austin, Texas based nonprofit that serves communities in East Africa by using research and data to provide life-essential water via safe water systems and improved and healthy hygiene and sanitation services.  They work with the communities they serve so that once the organization representatives leave, the communities can continue to provide safe water.  Less than one dollar a day in a single month means that twenty-five dollars donated results in five people having clean water for over twenty years.

 

Tomorrow will be a new day and yet, we will do our ordinary routine of getting up, brushing our teeth with safe water, perhaps take a shower, again with clean water. Eat breakfast with utensils that were washed in…you guessed it, clean water.  Make this ordinary routine something extraordinary, though, by thinking about donating to a charity that provides safe water to those without it.

 

Hopefully, tomorrow will be the beginning of a drop in a bucket for someone who has none, a safe drop of water that can bring life.  It may not seem like much but just consider the ripples that one drop of water makes falling on the ocean’s surface.  You might not realize the ripples you can make but your help will mean everything to others; it will give life.

 

 

 

 

Snug As a Bug

Snug as a Bug

Easter 20

 

Like many of our inventors, our featured female inventor today was a nurse.  Like many women, she thought of herself more as a “problem solver, not an inventor”.  Ann Moore was born and raised in Ohio and became a pediatric nurse.  In her own words, this is how she describes her early life: “I grew up on a farm in southwestern Ohio and being raised on a farm was terrific.  Our family did not have a lot of money and we improvised a lot.  My parents were put out of their church, the Dunkard Brethren Church, which is much like the Amish because they owned a radio.  The church emphasized public service and that stayed with me.”

 

Ann Moore graduated college as a nurse, her lifelong dream, and went to work at Columbia Hospital in New York City teaching pediatric nursing.  Working in Germany helping refugees from Eastern Bloc nations had a profound effect on her as did another humanitarian position working with earthquake victims in Morocco.  She became one of the earliest Peace Corps volunteers and with her husband worked in Africa.  It was there that she saw how the women of Africa carried their babies.

 

Women in underdeveloped nations seldom have the luxury of leaving their infants with someone else while they go about their chores and duties.  Hands are needed to both carry the baby and do the work and since women are not octopi, it can get a bit difficult.  In Africa, the women solved this problem by carrying their babies in fabric slings, keeping the child close and yet having their hands free to do their work.

 

Upon returning home, Ann Moore set about to invent a similar means of carrying infants in the United States.  Together with her mother the Snugli baby soft carrier was invented in 1969, a more involved and sturdier version of the African fabric sling.  This paved the way for all sorts of infant safe-carrying items and afforded women the chance to keep their children safe and yet still be active and productive.

 

Ann Moore learned something the rest of the world is still struggling to accept – we are all one on this planet.  She saw neither race nor color but the things that bind us.  She also knew the importance of togetherness and closeness, the sharing of life and heartbeats.

 

While her invention may not seem earth-shattering, it builds on the basic premise that gives and improves life for us all.  Modern science has within the past twenty years recognized that infants need human contact and that often putting a premature infant on the mother’s chest can work wonders.

 

The women who was the thirty-third applicant for the Peace Corps knew that the road to peace would began with compassion and caring, sharing life and joy.  During her training for the Peace Corps she met her husband, Mike Moore, and their eight-week courtship resulted in marriage before their posting in Togo.  Their first child was named Mandela after Nelson Mandela, in fact.

 

A happy baby makes for a happy family and African babies were very content, Ann Moore discovered.  She attributed this to their closeness with their mother, the constant feeling of being loved and nurtured.  Ann Moored took babies from the hard plastic shell of an infant carrier to being carried by a parent.  This has helped with early talking and vocalization of infants which leads to earlier reading skills and improved educational skills.  Ann Moore knew what science has just now discovered – Love nurtures and builds healthy bodies!

Never Forget

Never Forget

Easter 18

 

There were less than seventy thousand people living in Chibok at the time.  Many were Christians although there were Muslims living in the area.  They spoke the Kibaku language and were living in one of twenty seven local government areas of the Borno State.  Most of the people trace their genealogy to the Kanuri people, a sedentary (non-nomadic) people who were mostly farmers and fishermen, occasionally doing some trading and salt processing.

 

Like many areas in the most ancient part of the world, there are remnants of earlier civilizations.  Also living in this region are Shuwa Arab ethnic cultures, descendants from earlier dynasties.  These people make us most of those practicing Islam.  Nigeria gained independence from the British 1960 and previously powerful emirs saw their power and influence drastically reduced.

 

Because of gender bias, trying to locate information on female inventors from the African continent is almost impossible.  What is easy to learn, however, are the contributions, successes, and names of African American inventors.  Today we will discuss several because today we remember not only their accomplishments but the still missing potential of two hundred schoolgirls.  Today is the two year anniversary of the kidnapping of almost three hundred school girls from their school in Chibok by member of the militant group Boko Haram. Two hundred and sixteen girls remain missing today.

 

The women we are going to discuss today were remarkable but no more than others who were given the opportunity to learn and try, to think and then make the world a much better place.  I cannot imagine what wonderful things the missing girls might accomplish if we are able to return them to their homes and families, let them continue their education and journey of life.

 

Marie Van Brittan Brown was born in Queens, New York in 1922.  Following a typical education/career path for women, she became a nurse.  Her husband Albert was an electronic technician and neither worked the usual 9-5 hours of many jobs.  Marie was worried about being home alone and wanted a way to discover who was knocking at her door without needing to actually open the door.  It would be even better if she could learn who was at the door without having to get out of her bed.

 

In August of 1966, Marie and Albert Brown filed and received a patent for the first home security system.  The Browns’ system relied on wireless radio signals that fed images from the front door back to a television monitor in their bedroom.  A two-way microphone enabled the homeowner to speak to the person at the front door.  There was also a button that, when pushed, would remotely unlock the door.  The Browns not only invented the first such security system, they also had two children.  One is a daughter who herself is a nurse and also holds over ten patents.

 

Dr. Shirley Jackson became the first black female to earn a PhD. from MIT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  She was the first African-American to study theoretical physics at the prestigious college.  Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Shirley Jackson is a perfect example of what a person can accomplish if given the opportunity to follow her dreams.

 

Dr. Shirley Jackson described once her interests: “I am interested in the electronic, optical, magnetic, and transport properties of novel semiconductor systems. Of special interest are the behavior of magnetic polarons in semimagnetic and dilute magnetic semiconductors, and the optical response properties of semiconductor quantum-wells and super-lattices. My interests also include quantum dots, mesoscopic systems, and the role of antiferromagnetic fluctuations in correlated 2D electron systems.”

 

Dr. Shirley Jackson continued to work in education and in 2014 was the highest paid president of a private university in the United States.  She has also explored possibilities and is responsible for or participated in the invention of the automated teller machine, commonly known across the world as ATM’s, electronic key punch, and hard and floppy computer disks.  We don’t often think of theoretical physics as having practical applications but under the eye and hand of Dr. Shirley Jackson her exploration of such led to the telecommunication devices such as touch tone telephones, caller ID, call waiting, the portable fax, and fiber optic undersea cables that make overseas telephone calls possible and successful.  When someone asked “Can you hear me now?”, Dr. Shirley Jackson found a way to answer in the affirmative.

 

Born in Harlem, New York, Dr. Patricia Bath had a vision.  In fact, she wanted us all to have a vision – a crisp, clear vision of everything.  This Howard University School of Medicine graduate embarked on her own personal “Right to Sight” campaign.  In 1985 she developed a received a patent for a tool that would change the surgery for removing cataracts and enable millions of people to once again see.

 

Patricia E. Bath is not just an ophthalmologist, she is also a laser scientist.  Her firsts as a female ophthalmologist are plentiful and she credits such to her dream and beliefs:  “My love of humanity and passion for helping others inspired me to become a physician.”  Dr. Bath also invented a new discipline known as “Community Ophthalmology” which extended vision care from the doctor’s office to the community at large.  Despite prevailing prejudices against both her gender and race, Dr. Patricia Bath has enables thousands to see and taught many more through one of her newest passions, telemedicine.  “The ability to restore sight is the ultimate reward,” she explains.

 

Two years ago today, a group of girls left their homes to go to school, also dreaming of what they might one day accomplish.  In this region Boko Haram has claimed credit for the burning of almost one hundred and fifty schools and the abduction, rape, and/or murder of hundreds of school girls.  Four months ago the town of Chibok saw more bloodshed and terrorist activity.

 

We must continue the fight to retrieve these girls.  Everyone should have the freedom to worship as they please but no one group should have the power to terrorize.  Each life matters and these girls are some of our most precious natural resources.  Their potential is what our world needs and we need to give them the chance to learn and become whatever great gift of self they have to offer.  #BringOurGirlsBack.  Please.  Our future – yours and mine – depends on it.

 

 

 

 

Thinking Differently

Thinking Differently

Easter 2

 

Two days ago Newsweek reported a change in a centuries old custom of Kenya’s Maasai tribe.  Like many cultures, the tribe had a coming-of-age ceremony for both men and women.  Unfortunately, for the past centuries, the ceremony included genital mutilation for the females of the tribe. 

 

Throughout their history, the traditions of the tribe have influenced every aspect of their living.  Now, traditional African communities like this one are accepting alternative ceremonies.  The result is that fewer girls are entering into marriage without their personal consent at the age of eleven or twelve and are allowed to remain in school.  As one young girl remarked:  “I am very happy because I will not be married off at this age.  I will now go to school and achieve my dream of becoming a doctor.”

 

Temple Grandin did not grow up in Africa but graduated from Arizona State University in the United States of America.  She escaped a different type of cultural enslavement, however, that of being labeled “different”.  Dr. Grandin achieved her dream of earning her doctorate in animal science.  Although she did not speak until age four, she is now a world-renowned teacher and speaker, having invented several animal-=handling devices that reduce stress and improve overall health of cattle in the world.

 

I will pause here to admit that for the vegans in my readership, Dr. Grandin may seem like an unusual subject to begin our series on women inventors.  However, the eating of meat provides life for many people, a large number of whom cannot obtain or perhaps eat enough vegetarian meals to substitute the nutrients obtained by eating cattle.  Yes there is methane gas produced by beef cattle but it is less than half that produced by dairy cattle.  Cattle are ruminants and their practice of grazing actually improves the world’s food availability.  While we need to improve our care of the environment and our living practices that affect it, let us save that discussion for later.

 

Let’s turn our focus back to the females who have changed our world and Dr. Temple Grandin, an accomplished female inventor who lives with autism.  Dr. Grandin credits her interest and belief that animals should not be mistreated or placed in situations that result in a lower quality of life to living with the stigma of a diagnosis such as autism.  She has designed a number of inventions that use behavioral principles instead of excessive force to help control animals. 

 

“Dr. Grandin’s restraint systems keep animals calm and prevent them from getting hurt and her center-track restraint system is currently used to handle nearly half of all the cattle in North America. She also has designed livestock handling facilities in the United States, Canada, Europe, and New Zealand.” This description is from the website women-inventors.com

 

She is also a prolific author on the subject of autism.  Dr. Grandin is currently a professor of animal sciences at Colorado State University.  Her achievements dispel the myth that people who think differently cannot contribute to the world, lead “normal lives” or have anything to offer.   Like all of our women inventors in this series, she overcame gender bias as well as other false assumptions to survive and thrive.

 

We all encounter people who have low expectations for us.  Perhaps it is because of our skin color, the shape of our eyes or the size of our nose.  What we cannot do is adopt those low expectations or stop trying to accomplish our dreams.  It is only by thinking differently that the world moves forward and new inventions arise. 

 

I will close with a favorite quote of mine which comes from a 1980’s era television commercial campaign for Apple computers.  Alas it was not written by a woman but by Rob Siltanen; no matter, it is perfect for our discussion about Dr. Temple Grandin.  I hope it inspires you to think a little differently today and to give thanks that we are all not carbon copies but unique individuals.

 

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”