I like history. During the summer of 2001, I read several books about Marie Antoinette, of French Revolution “let them eat cake” fame (which she probably never said, by the way).
Poor Marie really gets a bum rap. She tried to be a good queen, in her own bumbling way, and despite the endless stumbling blocks thrown in her path. I remember one story about a sumptuous feast she hosted for royal hangers-on during a time when the teeming poor of Paris were starving. After the royal guests finally waddled home, stuffed to the gills with fancy food, Marie looked at the tables of leftovers and in the most magnanimous way suggested to her husband, Louis XVI: “Instead of throwing all this away, let’s have it spread out on the streets for the peasants to eat.”
The queen watched as the starving poor scrambled over each other to scoop up the royal leftovers. “We are so good to our peasants,” Marie said. “How they must love us!”
On the streets, crawling on their hands and knees and fighting for each bite, the peasants shook their fists and vowed, “We will have their royal heads!”
Clueless. That’s what Marie Antoinette was. And it cost her everything… even her life.
The Sunday after the infamous 9/11 Twin Towers disaster—that was September 16, 2001—an elder stood up in our church and asked for prayer for all of stunned America. Then he said, “How could such a thing have happened here? We are so good to the world! You would think everyone would love us.”
Those were Marie Antoinette’s words! Could it be that we are as clueless as she was?
I longed to hear the thoughts and experiences of women around the world from their own lips, especially those in the most challenging and desperate countries. Soon I was able to begin preparing for an actual journey to visit those women, and then for a book to tell their stories. Daughters of Hope was released in 2003. Since then, I have written seven more books, all of them on the general theme of knowing our neighbors on this earth and fighting for justice for all.
My passion began on 9/11.
Well, maybe on 9/16.
“There is nothing new except what has been forgotten.”