Jeannette Rankin believed, “What one decides to do in crisis depends on one's philosophy of life, and that philosophy cannot be changed by an incident. If one hasn't any philosophy in crises, others make the decision" (Lewis, 2011). This quote introduces us to the life of an amazing woman who dedicated her life to the rights of women, children, blue-collar workers, veterans and most importantly - peace. Many times in this paper, Jeanette's own quotes will serve as the voice of her moral courage. Born in an era of limited women's rights, Jeannette Rankin challenged conventional thought about the influence and power of a woman. She was the first woman elected to Congress, and the only person to vote against both World Wars. MoralCourage.org lists Jeannette Rankin amongst history's most courageous moral heroes. Jeanette used the power of virtue - instrumental (fortitude and courage) and moral (selflessness) - to create significant thought shifts about women, labor, poverty and peace. She serves as an ongoing inspiration for all people. JEANNETTE RANKIN MORAL COURAGE HERO
The purpose of this report is to examine the life of Jeannette Rankin and her stature as a Moral Courage Hero. In examining what attributes Jeannette processed to deserve this honorable title, I looked to the web site moralhero.org. This site skillfully describes the traits of a moral hero. "Being a hero is selflessly doing the best you can in a time of need. ...almost all our heroes have all of the following five traits: education, compassion, networking, inspiration and sacrifice."
This report will focus on four major components of Jeannette's life that embrace the traits described by moralhero.org: (1) What foundations formed her moral courage/values in her youth (education, compassion, family)? (2) How did she transition from a "country girl" to a social activist (education, networking, inspiration)? (3) What societal contributions did she accomplish during her life (compassion, sacrifice, inspiration)? (4) What are her lasting gifts to society (the culmination of a life committed to morals)?
It is through this examination of behaviors and commitments that the true picture of Jeannette's lasting social and moral contributions is measured. It will be easy to see that Jeannette Rankin is a Moral Courage Hero.
Foundations in Courage
Jeannette Pickering Rankin was born to John Rankin and Olive Pickering Rankin on June 11, 1880 in Missoula, Montana. John Rankin was a hard-working, non-discriminatory man with only a 3rd grade education. Jeannette's mother was Olive Pickering - a courageous, pioneer woman who traveled to Missoula in 1879 with only her sister as a companion. Imagine this young woman traveling to the wild territory of Montana only 74 years after Lewis and Clark had first seen the land! Olive was a schoolteacher who valued education and was one of Missoula's first teachers. One year after Olive arrived in Missoula, she and John married.
Olive and John Rankin had seven children. Jeannette was the oldest. People remember that she was very determined and strong-willed. Her mother would say to her father, "If you take care of Jeannette, I will care for the rest of the children" (Smith, 2002, pg. 34). Perhaps some of this independence came inherently from her free-spirited parents! Jeannette only had one brother, Wellington. This is important because the lack of boys in the family gave Jeannette more latitude in developing her independent spirit. Although strong-willed, Jeannette was very sensitive and cared deeply for people and the family pets. John and Olive Rankin did not emphasize religion or strict discipline in raising their children. Hard work was required, however. Everyone pulled their weight and the family became quite financially successful. When John Rankin died in 1904, Jeannette took a leadership role in...