Saturday, January 5, 2008

A Woman of Her Words

"What is truer than truth? The story." ~ Jewish Proverb

TED recently posted Isabel Allende’s talk on passion. In a room full of scientists, technologists, and innovators, Allende talked about story telling, about women, and about the importance of having a warrior heart. She speaks bravely with humor, honesty, and grace about the state of women in the world, and the picture is bleak, though hopeful.

When the news reports talk about war casualties, 80% of the people they are talking about are women. The women of war have suffered unbelievable cruelty and horror. They have endured gruesomeness beyond measure, in the lands formerly their homes and in refugee camps. Once they are displaced by war they have hardly anywhere to go and hardly anything to take with them: women own 1% of the world’s assets though do 2/3 of the labor.

In the world of philanthropy to help the needy, again women lose. Even though they comprise 51% of humankind, women’s programs receive only $1 for every $20 that is donated to men’s programs.

After all of this sad news, you may wonder where in the world is that hope I mentioned in the opening paragraph. And here it is: the stories of women are haunting them so much that they cannot help but write them down. We are becoming an entire generation of story tellers. 35% of on-line teenage girls have created a blog, in contrast to only 20% of on-line boys who have done so. 57% of people in the news industry are women.

The trend of Tech Fatales is emerging: Women are more likely to use mobile phones, digital cameras, satellite radios, and DVD recorders. Why? Because to listen and tell stories, we must connect. We don’t just want to contribute and make this world better. We are striving to make it good.

Allende talks about a woman whom she met in a refuge camp named Rose Mopendo. After tragedy upon tragedy, Rose and her 9 children finally made it to the U.S. In Swahili, “Mopendo” means “great love”. And what we love most is the truth, and so we must love and propagate our stories.

So it is no wonder that we are writing history in our own hand. Allende goes on to say that “heart drives us and determines our fate. It matters more than training, more than luck. The world needs dissidents, mavericks, rebels, and outsiders.” If this world is to be a better place, it needs us to rise up, to question everything, to put ourselves out there as risk takers and rule benders. And then, please, write it all down. We can’t afford to have anyone forget the lives we have lived.

To see a podcast of Allenede’s talk, click this link:
The picture above can be found at


selina said...

Just happened to stop by and found this post very inspiring. Blog on!

Christa said...

Hi Selina,
Thank you so much for stopping by to read my blog and for leaving such a kind comment. I find Isabel Allende inspiring beyond measure!