Editor's Notes

Friday, March 12, 2010
True North Perspective
Vol. 5, No. 14 (218)

On International Women's Day
Remember all is not doom and gloom

It is all too easy to look only at what is wrong with the world — whether climate change, famines, wars, to name only three items that tend to grab and hold our attention — and to forget just how many things we've been doing right

I think it was 1980, the year I saw my first woman subway driver. I was a teenager, heading to a party with friends, when Mike stopped, pointed, and shouted, "Look! There's a woman driving the train!"

And we did stop, we did look; we thought there was nothing wrong with such a thing — indeed, I believe we all thought it was a good thing — but the sight of a woman driving a train was one we had never before experienced.

A quarter century later, I imagine most people born 20 years ago would be shocked to learn that we were shocked by the sight of a woman driving a subway train; so much have times changed, at least in this part of the world.

In Canada, a woman transit driver is common-place, a woman police officer barely worthy of note, a woman soldier unusual but an expected sign of changes past and changes yet to come.

Like these changes or not, if we take the time to reflect, it is undeniable that recent years have brought change unprecedented in scope and depth to the way we live. And has been often noted by others, the pace of change in this world continues to increase.

Those of us who pay attention to the news, to the day-to-day changes in the world around us, can easily be swamped by short-term, the random, changes, and so forget to take the time to step back and see the long-term patterns. Those who pay attention to the news, may, in fact, be more easily depressed by what we see than are those who don't.

It is all to easy to read about wars, and about injustice; about violence and hatred; and about pollution and climate change and to forget that good things have happened and are happening still.

This past Tuesday marked the 99th International Women's Day, and that near-centenary seems to me a good excuse to stop for a moment and remember that all is not lost, that there is still hope for a better tomorrow despite the perils we face today.

99 years ago in most of the world, women were second-class, non-voting citizens at best, or chattel at worst. Less than a century later, the vast majority of the world at least pays lip-service to the idea that women are no more or less citizens than men.

Taking the long view, the past 99 years has seen massive, positive changes which dwarf any that occured over the previous one thousand.

Which isn't to say we have achieved Utopia. We haven't. But when we want to keep the dogs of despair at bay, it can be a healthful tonic to remember just how bad things used to be; to do so is to find strength to continue the struggle.

As this edition's lede story reminds us, justice is seldom a matter of luck or of a single hero rising up to smite an oppressor. In fact, positive change in the world is almost always the result of hard work, long hours put in by many hearts and many minds, striving to achieve a dream that to most seems unattainable.

As with the struggle to protect the earth's environment (and so, to protect also ourselves), so with the struggle for fully equal rights and responsibilities for the female half of the human race. There remains much work to be done before we hand to our children a world in which both our daughters and our sons can stand shoulder-to-shoulder looking into a future of creation instead of desparation.

But if we are to do that work, it can't hurt to look back and consider just how much work has already been done.

Geoffrey Dow
Managing Editor
True North Perspective

12 March 2010 — Return to cover.