Sydney, January 6, 1889
THE great need of the hour is for men and women who are not afraid to take hold of active practical work against the growing immorality of the age. There are plenty of persons who applaud the good deeds of others and yet what are they themselves doing? Martha K. Pierce, LLD, in a little tract, which constitutes No. 9 of the social purity series, issued by the Woman’s Temperance Publishing Association, asks such persons a number of very pertinent questions which are worthy of most serious consideration. Did you ever think how dangerous a thing it is for us to attend a meeting, where evils are talked about, and to read articles about them in papers, and get into an agonised state of mind over them and yet do nothing? There is no surer way to deaden moral energy. I fear that this is the danger of the hour.
We are feeling dreadful about it all, but are we doing much to stop it? How can we sit in our safe churches and lecture halls and listen in a perfect ecstasy of indignation to denunciation of faraway evils, when we might know if we would, that in the next street some work as diabolical calls to heaven for vengeance. How dare we go home and quiet ourselves into obliviousness to disagreeable things with the hope that sometime women will have the power to do something in some safe and effective and eminently proper way to prevent these shocking things? How many of us are contenting ourselves now with praying that somebody else will do whatever it is “advisable” to do at this juncture? If we could only see ourselves as the pitying eye above sees us when we try to put celestial aspirations into the straightjacket of propriety, we would humble ourselves in the dust, realizing our utter unworthiness to receive those fleeting visitations of the Divine. There is real work before us.
Are we watching the train on which bewildered girls are being hurried to a future so terrible that those who love them can have no hope except that Death will find and secure them soon? Are we sure that the pretty sales-woman who waits on us so patiently during an afternoon’s shopping, is not wishing that she had some good, safe friend to go to for advice about some acquaintance whom she half distrusts? Is the servant girl so kindly and justly treated that she does not go to unsafe places for the scanty pleasures that her life of drudgery knows? Has our grumbling at the sewing girl’s bill made her wonder as she turns to go to her home, whether it would be so very wicked after all to accept the protection of some man, who, dissipated as she knows him to be, is the only person who seems to care whether she starves or not? Have we taken pains to secure the confidence of the silly daughter of our careless neighbour, that we may give her an effective word of warning? Is there a place in our town in which any hopeless woman could shelter? And have we taken pains to have its location, and purpose so well advertised that no one could fail to know of it?
Have we joined hands with every other woman in our neighbourhood who can be interested in this work (and what true woman cannot be?) that we may help each other in lines of effort that cannot well be carried on by other individuals? Are the laws against abduction, kidnapping, and other crimes allied to the traffic by which our sisters are enslaved, put in force in our locality, not spasmodically, as peculiarly distressing cases happen to come to public notice, but every time they are violated? Are we trying to gain for womanhood such a direct influence in the body politic that officials will find it to their advantage to enforce those laws, and to guard the interests of women as scrupulously in all ways as they now do the interests of the voters upon whose support they depend? And whatever else we do or leave undone, do we speak in season the well-deserved and sorely-needed word of praise for the ones who dare to be the first in any line of this work?
Louisa Lawson penned this article for her female readers almost 130 years ago. The call now, directed at both men and women, must read exactly the same! How sad for such a nation as ours to have changed so much, but yet so little, in over a century. Surely there can be no fewer community-minded citizens now? Do we still, as Mrs Lawson suggested, feel that someone ought to do something about ‘those poor folk’ who have not the blessings we ourselves are so richly equipped with? Or do we do it ourselves? I know all too well there are no fewer in need now than then.
Is this a task which you would like to undertake and yet find yourself with no knowledge with which to go forward? Here then are causes and organisations with whom you may partner to ensure you meet (some) of the NEED OF THE HOUR.
Days for Girls (daysforgirls.org)
A practical service to girls and women all over the world, groups or individuals produce washable, reusable sanitary items so that, exactly as it says in the name, we can secure more ‘days for girls’. Days for education, days for work to sustain their families, days of dignity and recognition and hope. Consider your freedom to just ‘duck in’ to shops to purchase sanitary products for yourself or someone you love. This basic right is something not afforded to all. As you will realise as you peruse the ‘Days for Girls’ website, many women use shockingly unhygienic or relatively useless items in an effort to manage their menstruation and have access the opportunities that we too often take for granted. There are stories of ongoing failure and poverty due to the lack of such a seemingly insignificant item as a sanitary pad. The shame and taboo of women’s issue is prevalent in more countries and cultures than not and the indignity and mistreatment of women is horrific. Consider the story of one 12 year old girl who, when presented with the DFG kit, was ecstatic that she would no longer have to offer ‘favours’ to a male adminstrator whose role included distribution of donated sanitary products. How can you help to buy back days for girls? Every girl, everywhere, period.
Raw Impact #rawimpactorg
Consider families all over the world for whom poverty is generational. Regardless of the initial cause; famine, genocide, war – civil or international, these families spend a great deal of time and energy each day simply surviving. Simply finding enough food to support some growth of their children, finding shelter that most of us would NOT consider adequate and working hard to maintain life and existence. A few minutes spent meeting the families aided by the ongoing work of RAW Impact on their youtube channel will open your eyes to the real life examples of these families. It will also give you hope and a real vision of how these seemingly insurmountable challenges might begin to be overcome, one piece at a time, when you believe, as RAW does, that #everypiecematters And when you believe that, and recognise that YOU can make a difference, this might just be the way you’d like to impact your world for good.
I was fortunate enough to be a part of a team of women who travelled to Cambodia in April this year to deliver women’s health classes and Days for Girls kits. You can watch our video here.
These are only two of the numerous organisations around the globe for whom people matter, for whom others come before self. It does not take a genius to understand that things don’t change unless YOU do. Things don’t happen without people power. I’m sure there are so many wonderful organisations that you have been privileged to know and work with. Perhaps you would like to share these in the comments below so that others might choose to assist their world in a real way?