Isabel Allende is an inspiration to me. I’m not just talking about her books, most of which are quite wonderful. Among my favorites: Paula, which produced one of the most stimulating and thoughtful discussions in my book group about death, mother-daughter relationships, and spirituality; and The House of The Spirits, which, unbeknownst to me at the time I read it, was modeled after her own life.
I just read her Wikipedia summary and, would you believe it– she has a tradition of starting her novels on 8 January (today!)! Talk about serendipity!
But really, the woman herself exudes passion, charisma, spirituality, and creativity. I have seen her talk here in Seattle, years ago, when she was here for a book reading of her memoir, Sum of our Days, and remember being simply awed by her presence.
Isabel herself is a feminist and philanthropist, having started a foundation in honor of her daughter, Paula, who died an untimely death at age 28. The foundation focuses on the empowerment of women through social and economic justice.
I recently listened to her talk on TED.com, which is a neat site that features “Ideas Worth Spreading”. You can listen to talks about any topic that interests you, based on a theme (technology, entertainment, business, etc.) or by type of talk you want to hear (inspiring, beautiful, funny, persuasive, etc.).
Of course I am predictable– I usually choose the inspiring ones.
In her talk, Isabel reflects on how we can harness our passions to change the power equation and tip it towards women and girls around the world. Her words are both poignant and humorous as she illustrates the misfortunes of several women and girls in different countries.
One part of her talk was particularly illuminating:
“I want to make this world good. Not better, but to make it good….The poorest and most backward societies are those that put women down. Yet this obvious truth is ignored by governments and also by philanthropy. For every dollar given to women’s programs, $20 are given to men’s programs. Women are 51% of humankind. Empowering them will change everything—more than technology and design and entertainment…. Women working together can bring peace and prosperity to this forsaken planet. In war today, most of the casualties are civilians, mainly women and children. They are collateral damage. Men run the world, and look at the mess we have.”
Thank you for all you do, Isabel Allende!