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Sam Smith, a journalist in Washington, whom some of you are familiar with, in his new book makes the …

Sam Smith, a journalist in Washington, whom some of you are familiar with, in his new book makes the point that Those who think history has left us helpless should recall the abolitionist of 1830, the feminist of 1870, the labor organizer of 1890, and the gay or lesbian writer of 1910. They, like us, did not get to choose their time in history but they, like us, did get to choose what they did with it. He then asks: Knowing what we know now about how certain things turned out, but also knowing how long it took, would we have been abolitionists in 1830, or feminists in 1870, and so on? We don’t know what surprises history has in store for us when we give history a little shove, just as history can give each of us a little shove personally.

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