Helen Keller: “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

November 25, 2020

I wanted to send out this image of thanksgiving to everyone who has made my adventure this year safe and pleasant under globally adverse circumstances. This post is dedicated to the medical response teams on frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide.
Design by Meredith Eliassen, 2020.

Much of this year for me has been in relative isolation writing a new biography of Helen Keller for a series called “Women Making History” that is coming from the minds ABC-CLIO. The first volume on RBG is in the marketplace now, and I hope to Helen’s story will come out sometime during her the 120th anniversary of her birth. Some of my fellow authors have commented on the impact of deeply exploring the lives of great women on their lives during this pandemic.

I am so grateful that I had not only a double exploration with Helen and Annie Sullivan Macy, but a deeper exploration of Helen, Annie, and Helen’s mother Catherine “Kate” Keller who was essentially written out of her daughter’s story. It is more poignant that I should look at Helen’s life within a context of a pandemic period and see nuances of three women dealing with tremendous societal change, political and economic turmoil, and the centennial of women getting the vote. Helen lived most of her life in isolation due to her being deaf-blind but she was not insular; her courage was found in her undying desire to reach out in the world of ideas and to do good in areas relevant to her within the context of her times. I try to frame Helen within a diversely talented community of deaf-blind, deaf, and blind individuals.

I am thankful for my time with Helen Keller. Women from the past have stories and wisdom to share even when they were not famous; this is what drew me into the study of folklore. In America, we should be thankful to have such diverse groups of women offering insights and we should never be afraid to look to them within the context of our times and challenges for inspiration and wisdom. Women… back then and today… are not the equitable. Women… back then and today… do not agree. Women back then and today… are natural leaders and emerging leaders. I am thankful for the ability to time-travel to visit the human condition from the past, to witness history created today, and look for and record stories that may be relevant to posterity. I am thankful for today. I am hopeful for tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving! I am thankful for my family and friends always. Please follow safety guidelines in your celebrations for love-ones and posterity. We must look beyond the comforts of today if we are to reach for tomorrow and heal wounds. We must get beyond partisan bickering and work together in unity to solve broad societal problems.

My heartfelt thanks to those nurses, doctors, medical staff, postal carriers, delivery folks, and essential workers who may put themselves at risk for the benefit all of us. Helen Keller’s words of unity purpose hold true now: “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much…” to get through this pandemic, preserve life, and build a society were all lives matter.

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