Did you know that every year March is designated Women’s History Month by Presidential proclamation. The month is set aside to honor women’s contributions in American history. Here is President Trump’s proclamation from 2019.
Americans are so conflicted these days concerning who is a hero/heroine and who is a villain that it makes these honorific months problematic. Take, for instance, the case of Hannah Emerson Dustin (1657–1736). Hannah was a colonial Puritan mother of nine living in Haverhill, Massachusetts when she was abducted by Abenaki Indians along with her week-old baby and nurse. When the baby would not stop crying, one of the Indians took hold of it and bashed its brains out against a tree. Later, while detained on an island in the Merrimack River, Hannah took an ax and killed and scalped ten Indians while they slept and took off with her friend and the 10-year old boy also being held by the Indians.
Hannah was considered a hero to the following generations and is believed to be the first American woman honored with a statue. There are two statues, in fact, one in New Hampshire and one in Massachusetts.
But nowadays we can’t be proud of Hannah. No, we even doubt that the Indians killed her baby. Maybe it just died. We can’t hold her up as an example of female bad-assery, a woman who didn’t need a man to save her or wait for one to rescue her to wreck havoc on her kidnappers. No, we are just embarrassed by her wrath–remember this is a woman who has just given birth, her hormones were raging, her milk flowing–and the revenge she dealt to her murderous enemies. It is so typical that people are sympathetic to the poor Indians she “murdered” and not to the kidnapped and traumatized woman.
But no one understands context these days.
There are a couple of good stories based on Hannah Dustin’s story and others like hers, including “The Iron Shrine” by Conrad Richter and Hannah Fowler by Janice Holt Giles.
I recommend them. These authors understood context.
Meanwhile we are still in February through the weekend (leap year!) Daughter #1 is coming into town on Saturday to get the oil changed in her car, so we will be able to do a few things.
Check this out: another good one from my favorite female priest. And in case you missed it, yesterday was the feast day of George Herbert, priest an poet.
Our God and King, who didst call thy servant George Herbert from the pursuit of worldly honors to be a pastor of souls, a poet, and a priest in thy temple: Give unto us the grace, we beseech thee, joyfully to perform the tasks thou givest us to do, knowing that nothing is menial or common that is done for thy sake; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Watch a good movie this weekend! Since it is the last weekend of Black History Month, it might be time to view something from the Denzel Washington oeuvre. The Book of Eli (2010) is a personal favorite.
Have a good weekend!