Recently I was unexpectedly struck by the heroic courage and commitment of one woman, and the difference she has made speaking out in support of other women, at home and around the world.  The title of this post is something Hillary Clinton said in Beijing in 1995.  Imagine that courage!

I invite you to take a moment to take in Meryl Streep‘s introduction of Hillary Clinton at the 2012 Women in the World Conference.   You can read it here, or listen to it here.

I think you will find that simply following the links in the paragraph above will be deeply touching. Much of the time I am concerned about what’s wrong in the world, and how to fix it.  These links take us to people and places and events that are deeply right, wholy inspiring, and very heartening — I was moved to tears, and felt like celebrating.

Meryl Streep was unaware of the hidden life of Hillary Clinton, and Streep shared her surprise and admiration in her introduction, mentioning “the shadow diplomacy unheralded, uncelebrated — careful, constant work on behalf of women and girls that she has always conducted alongside everything else a First Lady, a Senator, and now Secretary of State is obliged to do.”  The details certainly surprised me, as I expect they will you. Not that Clinton is perfect, or that I agree with all she does or stands for.  That’s not the point.

Here are a couple of examples of what women said about their contact with Hillary — feel the passion, the challenges, the gratitude:

“I met her and my life changed.”  

“I’m alive because she went on our local TV and talked about my work, and now they’re afraid to kill me.”  

“I’m alive because she came to my country and she talked to our leaders, because I heard her speak, because I read about her.”

It reminded me that we should never, ever, judge a book by its cover — we never know the whole story about someone’s life.  I would never have guessed the glorious shadow side of Hillary.

In an earlier post , Life is a Splendid Torch, I mentioned Girl Rising, a film about the importance of educating women, and the phenomenal differences this single act can make — in families, communities, cultures, the world.  We want to acknowledge the huge effect that educated and empowered women can have in building the kind of society we need — creative, gentler, more sustainable and community oriented.  This story invites me to continue and expand my efforts to move toward gender equity and respect for women, in a variety of ways, at home and around the world.

How many other transformative shadow saints are among us and we don’t even suspect!  It makes me curious, grateful, and way less inclined to judgment.  Blessed be!

What are some of the ways you can think of and implement to be part of this movement?  I’d be pleased to hear your comments.

Jill Schroder is the author of BECOMING: Journeying Toward Authenticity.  BECOMING is an invitation for self-reflection, and to mine our memorable moments for insights, meaning, and growth.  Check the website for a sample chapter, or see the reviews to get a flavor for the volume.  Follow me on Twitter, let’s be friends on Facebook :-)


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