Follow my train of thought here

In the last couple of days I've only been able to think about death and autism. So to take my mind off it, I borrowed a book* from the library. I picked it because of the interesting cover, and then found out it was all about death and feminism. Great.

Well, actually, it was great. It's particular focus was the suffragette movement led by Mrs Pankhurst at the beginning of the last century.

I was moved to think that I can now vote because women who believed strongly enough in their cause had the courage to stand up against society and even go to prison for their beliefs.

Nowadays, it's a no-brainer that women get the vote. Back then, it was shocking, unseemly, even un-Christian.

My mind went off on two tracks: firstly, would I be willing to stand up for my beliefs and even face persecution for them. Sometimes, I'm not so sure.

My second train of thought is around family and causes. In the book, Kitty fought for suffrage, but her daughter and family suffered because of it. It reminds me of Nelson Mandela's biography - his two marriages broke up because of the strain of the apartheid cause. The story of the great missionary William Carey is similar. His work in India was groundbreaking, but his wife went mad.

It seems like many 'great' people have difficult family lives. Their personal relationships get swamped by their cause or their business or their calling. Often, the less powerful in their families suffer as a result of their one-eyed dedication.

The question is: is that ok? Is it just part of life? Does someone always have to suffer in the wake for great and worthy things to be done? Is Nelson Mandela any less great because of his broken relationships? Is William Carey's work still worthwhile, even though his family life was a disaster? Did Emily Pankhurst's suffragettes achieve a greater good for women even though those around them suffered for a while?

*Fallen Angels by Tracey Chevalier. Fabulous.