No it’s not a misprint.
Yes, I am referring to a favorite children’s book of mine, “The Little Engine that Could,” written by Watty Piper, the pen name of Arnold Munk. There are several versions of the story, but the underlying theme is the locomotive on the train caring the toys breaks down as it begins its climb over the mountain. Several engines more mighty and powerful refuse to help, and finally the little engine, not nearly as mighty, appears, and against all odds becomes the heroine of the day, pulls the train over the mountain, all the while chanting “I think, I can—I think, I can."
Yes, the heroine saves the day. And while not overtly using personification, the story does identify the mighty and powerful engines with the “he” pronoun, and the engine that offers and succeeds coming over the mountain and delivering the toys to the children with the “she” pronoun.
It has long been my supposition that one of the interpretations of this fable is the subconscious message that, as girls and women, we can aspire and do for ourselves, friends, family and community, what we ethically believe in and truly value for the greater good of civil society. And that we have the ability and the right to the “pursuit happiness,” believing we can achieve, what Eleanor Roosevelt described as “the beauty of our dreams.”
But one may ask, “How is this possible in a world where four out of five people believe our moral compass is no longer pointing due north?”
I am neither an historian, nor an economist; I am a boom-generation woman who believes in the beauty of my dream for a more compassionate and harmonious world. From my travels and talks around the country, I have met hundreds, if not thousands of women who, each in her own way, also believes in the beauty of her dream.
Together, in concert with our heartfelt passion and purpose, we make up a generation (73 million men and women) about to come over the mountain, pulling civil society toward a renewed vision for a more caring and compassionate world. Not only do we think we can, we know we must, using our time, talent and treasure to demonstrate that abundance and optimism are part of the beauty of our dream and the legacy we will leave.
Some will contribute by their work in the corporate world, others through the government sector. But the “Little Engine that Can” has found its home and leadership destiny in the philanthropic sector.
We know we can, we know we can. Here we go, over the mountain.
To learn more about women and philanthropy, follow Margaret May on Facebook, Twitter @MM_Philanthropy, or visit www.margaret-may.com and sign up for her monthly e-newsletters.