On June 13, 1921, I was the baby girl born to Alvina and Peter Boltz, in New Albin, Iowa. When I awoke today to a sunny morning in Southern California, 91 birthdays later, I was still a member of the half of the world’s population born female. My mind strolled around the countries of the world. Those many that I have visited produced clear pictures of the women I met and saw in those places. Attendance at an international conference for women in Mexico City years ago added many pictures to the memory bank. All the time and energy I’ve spent working on issues related to being female added more. Certainly the time that I have spent as the only female in situations where before only men have been, has produced award-winning comments and anecdotes for the memory bank.
But I want us to think about the females in America right now. We are very close to an election that I believe is pivotal for the future of all of us, not only those born female. I am intrigued and perplexed about the commentary during these troubled times. The election rhetoric has only heightened the degree of craziness. I have some questions for my colleagues born female on planet earth.
For my compatriots 70 years and older, I want to know if you want to have an unelected board that sits in Washington, D.C. make decisions about your health? Personally I’m happy there was no such board when I broke my leg a year ago. What do you think they might have chosen for someone over 90? If the choice comes in the future between those of us over 70 and a younger person, what do you think the choice might be? I do not want some bureaucrat in Washington looking at a piece of paper making life and death decisions about me. I am a real person, not a name on a remote request in front of strange eyes who don’t know me.
It occurred to me that if I wanted to transform, (translated control), politically, economically, and socially all facets of America, I could do it more easily if I didn’t have too many folks around like me who are definitely old enough to remember the history of our great republic, history that we were fortunate enough to learn. I was taught and lived the exceptionality of my country. I was taught that opportunity was mine when I sought it and worked hard. I was not taught to despise the wealthy nor was I taught to expect a handout or that I deserved a part of what they had. I grew up poor monetarily, but I did not grow up poor in spirit or faith. I was taught the playing field of opportunity was level, but I would never know that if I didn’t use the field. I never have expected to see my name on the roster for a game or on a trophy from a game in which I didn’t play. Expectation of participation to achieve success is a generous clue for all of life.
. For my young friends, I simply inquire about what you want for your future. I know how I have spent my life to serve the many thousands of you I have encountered on my 91-year journey. I have tried desperately to allow you to think for yourself, to engage in your world, to be a problem solver, to be part of solutions to concerns and difficulties, to listen to the many facets of issues, and to understand the responsibility of opportunity. I have always tried to teach and model self-reliance, energy, excellence, trust, humanity, and faith. I have always tried to help you understand that you are a child of God and a citizen of a great country, and that you are entitled to all the rights and privileges of both.
To all my female friends in between the young and the old, what are your long- and short-term goals? I wonder what the preponderance of your decisions are about each day. What choices must you make each day? Some politicians would have you believe that reproductive choices are the main and greatest issue for you. I know that for each choice you make about reproductive issues, you make literally hundreds of others. From the time you open your eyes in the morning until you climb into bed at night to rest your weary body, you have engaged in a decision making marathon. And now as I see the price of gas go past the $5 mark, the decisions entrapped in one issue, the price of gas, are monumental. And what about food and clothing, and whether you will be able to keep your house, or your job? Will your kids have oppotunities for music, art, and sports? Will the money invested in college help young people find appropriate jobs? Or perhaps you have to go to work to survive. Decisions abound every second of the day, and most are not about reproductive rights or choices. I do not minimize the importance of this issue, but I don’t understand the maximizing of the issue into a vote for a political candidate.
When a 14 year-old girl in Pakistan faced death to say what she believed about her desire/right to go to school, certainly we can be grateful for the blessing of being born female in this truly exceptional land of the free. But we must make wise, informed decisions when we cast our ballot if we want it to remain free.
We must not allow one very personal issue to be the totality of our thinking. The stakes are high for us, but they are monumentally greater for those who follow us, no matter what our age. What will we leave to those born female on November 6, 2012? Will we choose the path of more debt, of empty promises, of continuing joblessness, of horrific gas and food prices, of attacks on our Christian heritage, and fraud and cronyism? No political party is immune. That is not the issue.
The issue is whether the half of us born female decides to become an active part of “we the people” who will make a difference. Together we can stop the political narrative from controlling our lives. Together we can model self-reliance, integrity, responsibility, compassion, excellence, openness, thrift, opportunity for all, a constant search for peace, freedom of religion, an understanding of our founding, and a dedication to the principles and policies that will leave all that is best about this incredible, exceptional republic where we were born female to those who follow us.
I can guarantee you that we will not be alone in this. Our fathers, husbands, brothers, cousins, male friends and acquaintances will join us. What we do and stand for is not just for those born female. What we do and who we are, become not just good but great when we join together with the entirety of “we the people.”