4.0 out of 5 stars
….well written with the gifts of tolerancer and inspiration…..
By Winston J. Phillipson September 25, 2017
This book was a gift to me for a review.
The Bible says that “God work in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform”. One of my favorite lessons from this statement is that God made us all the same, yet he made us different (a mystery?); and he said ‘Go and learn to live together with your differences for in doing so you will prosper both materially and spiritually.’ This book carries that connotation.
A Jewish baby, Ruth, is escapes Berlin’s Gestapo as her mother and English benefactor are killed. The benefactor is Sir William Bromfield who had worked with her grandfather in civil engineering projects. Ruth is taken to London, and formerly adopted by William’s brother, John, a Minister of the Church of England. He and his wife, Madeline, raise Ruth in both the Christian and Jewish faiths, organizing with a Jewish rabbi and family to have this done.
Ruth very quickly adapts to the teachings of her dual-religion, and begins to understand the similarities and differences of the religions and the people involved (‘go and learn to live together’). Amidst the adjustments of war bombings, she manages to attend normal school, Sunday school and Jewish School –something Madeline called having “a well-rounded education.” She is a “natural student” as well as a “leader”, and works with most of the incoming Jewish students.
After the war, John has to devote more and more of his time to his brother’s Bromfield Industries and Bromfield Charitable Trust. We follow Ruth as she ‘breezes through’ her academic studies, absorbing the wide beliefs and traditions of the different students attending her schools. Professionally she advances in her engineering field to ultimately become Joint President of Bromfield Industries and Bromfield Charitable Trust, and is the recipient of many national and international awards including the Dame Commander and Nobel Prize. In the interim her family life flourishes and she has a child called Maddie.
Ruth and her husband Clive feel that answers to the poverty they observe lie in engineering as well as social solutions. Engineering solutions include a plan for a joint multinational oil production project (Africa East to West); and the steps necessary to see it through. Social solutions include a Program called Respect Program under the Charitable Trust. And so begins my dilemma.
This book caused me to ask whether the story was true, and whether the engineering activities did take place. I could find nothing either inside or outside the book to support this view… So I prefer to see the Project as one for hope; hope in what a project like that could do for various countries and the world, including working together and understanding each other. I believe that a project pf this nature would be negatively affected by national international conflicts and internal conflicts with pipelines becoming targets for terrorism. It seems to that some supranational body would have to manage, including distribute profits – another easy target for dissidents, including bribery attempts?. Just these two alone would render the Project idea as only hopeful. If you are like me you would want to go from hopeful to reality.
But I am impressed by the huge of the author to lay out the engineering work and benefits for the reader.
The Respect Program slogan: “Forget our differences; Embrace our similarities” well reflects Ruth’s work as predicated on the understanding of and working with differences. If in this context you must ask what you can do, the answer is here. And I feel more comfortable with this solution, and its prospects.
The book is very well written, and in some cases quite detailed in telling the story of determinedly learning to live with differences and prospering. I wondered at the few personal obstacles arising. Except for Ruth’s first marriage, family relationships are usually warm. Ruth had a belief in her foster parents, her dual-religion, and in her self. Ruth could respect others because she respected herself. Her adoptive family was not overbearing in their presence or influence, and Ruth filled their lives with love and pride. The business success may have been due in part to her personal organizational and engineering skills, but her family was her personal platform. As a woman engineer and industry tycoon, even in today’s context, she provides us with the gifts of tolerance and inspiration.
Let me offer another lesson sneaking in a comment from Ruth’s husband Clive that it was ironic that they were going to investigate poverty while flying first class. I recall the movie ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ and the song which said: “There will be poor always, pathetically struggling… think of the good things you’ve got”. (He made us same and made us different).I was glad to see Clive express no resulting guilt.