Reaching Across Boundaries

Reader’s Forum

By Harry Kresky

I was predisposed against Megan Marshall’s Margaret Fuller.  I had never heard of either the author or the subject and did not think the biography of a New England woman who lived in the first half of the nineteenth century would be of much interest.

Harry Kresky
Harry Kresky

I was wrong.  Margaret Fuller’s life is the story of a woman’s struggle to achieve intellectual, emotional, and sexual fulfillment.  But it is not a book “for women.” Fuller’s concerns – the one-sidedness and constraints of marriage; the difficulty in building intimacy as friends, lovers, coworkers; the tension between self-fulfillment and responsibility to others; the treatment of the poor and the despised – are the concerns of every decent human being.  In speaking as a woman, and on behalf of women, Fuller and Marshall’s message is not an identity-based, sectarian one.  Like Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi and Pope Francis they express how the liberation of a particularly oppressed sector of humanity is inseparable from the development of us all.  Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Margaret Fuller lived her life like that and so can we.

Harry Kresky is counsel to and one of the country’s leading experts on nonpartisan primary reform and the legal issues facing independent voters.


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Founder of the Politics for the People free educational series and book club for independent voters. Chair of the New York County Independence Party.

One thought on “Reaching Across Boundaries

  1. I too found Margaret Fuller’s identification with the poor, the plight of the American Indian, the dispossessed in Mexico and Europe as she struggled with the constraints of women’s oppression here at home to be an inspiring and beautiful expression of the sentiment, “the rising of the women, is the rising of us all.” In reading this fascinating book of a person, who I had known,nothing about, I had the recurring thought that she seemed so isolated. The transcendentalists, not activists or particularly engaged in changing social conditions, the abolitionist movement, and women’s suffrage movement not yet formed , she used her pen well and effectively. I particularly liked the last section when her politics and personal life seemed to come together.

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