Elizabeth Cady Stanton, in 1892, made a speech to committees of both houses of Congress. The speech was titled "Solitude of Self." It was an appeal for justice on behalf of American women, but it could serve as well as an appeal on behalf of anyone anywhere. She said, "The point I wish plainly to bring before you on this occasion is the individuality of each human soul...the right of individual conscience and judgment.... We come into the world alone, unlike all who have gone before us; we leave it alone under circumstances peculiar to ourselves. No mortal ever has been, no mortal ever will be like the soul just launched on the sea of life.... Nature never repeats herself, and the possibilities of one human soul will never be found in another.... In that solemn solitude of self, that links us with the immeasurable and the eternal, each soul lives alone forever.... Our inner being, which we call ourself, no eye nor touch of man or angel has ever pierced.... Such is individual life. Who, I ask you, can take, dare take, on himself the rights, the duties, the responsibilities of another human soul?" In 1915 the United States government printed 10,000 copies of this speech and mailed it all over the world. A society based on profound respect for the individual as such, the soul as such—this idea is not foreign to us. Perhaps it is, as Stanton says, the essence of everything we value, everything that has ever made us capable of real generosity toward others, or made us able to feel, as we do too rarely now, the pleasure of our own inwardness, and the prodigal wealth of inwardness that surrounds us.
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