In 2015, Misty Copeland became the first African-American woman to be named principal dancer in the 75-year history of American Ballet Theater. In 2015! The prevailing thought being that it would be distracting for audiences to see dancers of colour on stage - and somehow this was acceptable and went uncontested for years. Some might argue that this is still the case.
On October 1, 2017, a man shot and killed 58 people and injured more than 500 from his suite at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. This, the deadliest mass shooting committed by an individual in the United States, was the 273rd mass shooting (defined as incidents where 4 or more people are shot and/or killed) in 2017. That is nearly as many mass shootings as there have have been days in 2017. Yet, millions of people and a strong gun lobby believe that the right to bear arms set out in the Second Amendment trumps the need to protect innocent lives by putting restrictions on the right to purchase weapons.
In her book “Lean in”, Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook writes that the data show that for men, likability and professional success are correlated. The more successful a man, the more people like him. With women, it’s the exact opposite. The more professionally successful women are, the less people like them.
How often, when discussing the gender gap in the workforce, do we hear the argument: “The most important criteria must surely be to get a qualified applicant”, thus immediately revealing the implicit bias that a woman would not, could not be the most qualified applicant. That we still have these discussions is confounding - we need to not just catch up but leapfrog into a 21st century mindset.
Tradition, culture and a fear of the unfamiliar, such as black dancers in Swan Lake, restrictions on the right to bear arms, or equal opportunities for women, keep societies and in particular minorities in an iron grip. This works to the detriment not only of the minorities themselves and the safety of our communities, but also as a tripwire in the evolutionary path of society.
We tell our children to be brave, to stand up for those less fortunate, to fight for equality; we praise the unsung heroes and award Nobel prizes to the few among us who sacrifice careers, families and even their lives to save or bring attention to the plight of victims.
Yet, when we look at our leaders and our politicians today, in Denmark, across Europe and the world, when we sit in our boardrooms and living rooms, those who defend the weak, who point out injustices and inequalities are often ridiculed and themselves branded as weak. Instead of looking at the facts and understanding the historical contexts, the blame for lack of success, lack of upward mobility and lack of inclusion is increasingly placed on the shoulders of the disadvantaged.
In his work “On the Basis of Morality” the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer declared that “compassion is the basis of morality”. That was in 1840. In 2017, there seems to be a deficit of compassion upon which to base a common morality.
Yes, everyone should take personal responsibility and yes, we must all work to the best of our abilities, but that does not relieve those of us more fortunate from our obligation to try to understand the plight of others and to offer a helping hand, not when it suits us, but when it helps others.
It’s been a busy Fall season at Books & Company.
So many great books to choose from and so many exciting events to plan.
We will be taking a road trip through America, learning to live and work in the Nordic countries, celebrating Christmas Scandinavian style - and Celtic style - meeting fascinating speakers in the Copenhagen Salon Series and singing our hearts out at our annual Christmas caroling evening in December.
So much to look forward to as the days get shorter and the leaves change colour.
Check out our events on the website, sign up and join us for inspiring, eye-opening and fun evenings at Books & Company!
We look forward to seeing you at the shop!
Isabella and the staff of Books & Company