Ask The Wind

Every now and then I read a news story that infuriates me and almost throws me into a pit of despair about the future of the human race. A 13-year old girl has just been stoned to death in Somalia for adultery. Truth is, she was actually raped.

I got so angry about this because I know a lot of 13-year old girls, many 12-year old girls too who go to school with my son and to think of them first of all being raped and then stoned to death in a stadium while 1000 spectators look on because a group of Islamic militants say so, makes the bile rise in my throat.

This is one of those stories that stays in your mind for ages after you read it, makes you question, really question, what kind of world we live in. It’s a lottery where we end up, you know? That could have been me getting stoned to death in Somalia. Or you.

You hear people in the Western World going on about their rights all the time – ad nauseum. It’s my right to freely speak my mind. It’s my right to live where I choose. It’s my right to spend my money as I see fit. It’s my right to proper health care. It’s my right to fair treatment at work. Yet there are so many people throughout the world whose basic rights are denied, abused, ripped away. Sometimes I can’t stand it.

When I was younger I did a lot of voluntary work for Amnesty International and Greenpeace and while I applaud those groups for the tireless work they do, the good they do; working for them left me dejected and disenchanted because the problems they try to counter are so vast and nothing ever seems to change.

When you go out walking at night and look up at the blue black sky, you begin to appreciate the immensity of our world and the myriad problems it experiences. Sometimes we have as much chance of preventing the abuse of human rights as we do of catching a falling star and keeping it as a treasure forever.

When I am angry I walk. Even at night. Tonight the wind rose from the sea, clutching at my ankles, making my hair snap around my head like the stiff ribbons my grandmother used to iron before church.

Why get so angry about this girl? You ask. You don’t even know her. You’re right. I don’t. But in a different life she might have been my daughter. I might have had to watch, restrained by the rough hands of religious extremists, while thousands of stones brought her to her death. In the name of what?

Sometimes it feels like every cause in the world has been lost. Sometimes you feel so vulnerable, so insignificant that there seems little point in indulging your sense of compassion.

What can I do? I am just one person. I shout my question out loud to the wind.

There is no answer. Of course not. The wind doesn’t hold life’s answers. The answers lie in our hearts.

I may just be one person, but I will not forget. I will not stop getting angry for children that in this life were not mine. I will not stop believing that one person can make a difference no matter how impossible it seems.

The moon is a sliver of ice. The wind is watchful. Fruit bats cluster on branches like mantel ornaments.  There are swirls on the grass as if snails have been racing. I ask the wind to tell me its secrets but it retreats to the water. I am left to my own conclusions. It is simple, really. To feel angry at the state of the world can be hard to bear. To feel nothing is worse.

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28 thoughts on “Ask The Wind

  1. Well, I guess I’m worse off than you because I feel nothing. My blood used to boil when I’d hear the girl-stoned-to-death-for-being-raped stories (it happens all the time in the Islamic world) but now I remind myself that I can’t solve the world’s problems, nor can I drag a whole society out of its repusive values and practices. Frankly, this is what is being attempted in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Man’s inhumanity to man has a long pedigree, and whether it’s taking place in Somalia or right down the street, it’s going to continue. I may be wrong, but I’m like Ozzy Osborne – “I don’t want to change the world, I don’t want the world to change me”.

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  2. Frightening. That poor child. I’d like to say it’s a rare occurance, unfortunately like female genital mutilation, the level to which women are oppressed in many countries goes unnoticed and often, unpunished. I was reading about a Dr. in the Congo who repairs women who have been brutally gang raped. He said he’s seen thousands of women. Some forced to carry the children of the men who raped them. Unthinkable. As a woman, and as a mother I am angry that we let this continue. Unabated, unchecked.

    I watched Torturing Democracy this weekend, and it sickens me to think that Americans are using the same torture on prisoners in Guatanamo, Iraq and Afganistan — because when they did that, the West lost a lot of credibility. And now we have to mend those wounds as well.

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  3. I cannot change the whole world, but I can try to change the world around me.

    Words, spoken with care and forethought, not used as a weapon to hurt feelings or to make myself sound superior.

    Kindness, done without reciprocation in mind, selfless acts done with no reward and no glory waiting in the wings.

    Benefit of the doubt, given more freely and with knowledge that there are many times I need it returned.

    It’s all I have, but I’ll give it.

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  4. Hi Selma,
    On behalf of the human race (and I think I can do this because I am one), THANK YOU for caring.
    Miss Britt has ‘nailed it’.

    Remember the discussion that we were having about random acts of kindness? Well, this fits into the same category, the only difference is they are called Random Acts of Care.

    I also think that this ties in with Anthony’s “Law of Large Numbers” and “Consensus Realities”. If we can achieve enough ‘R.A.C.’s’ then, who knows, we may reach a level of worldwide empathetic momentum which is just enough to ‘make a difference’ (something like a self-fulfilling prophecy).

    As you have rightly stated, “To feel nothing is worse.”. There are enough ‘reefs of grief’ out there now, to try not to navigate through them can only lead to ‘shipwreck’.

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  5. I used to volunteer for Greenpeace too. I thought about working with a group fighting the same sort of battles that was a little more …forceful, and a little less …legal. It does seem that what we do is all for naught sometimes, but we honor those who have suffered through our memory of them. …and Richard is right, that kind of thing happens all the time in certain cultures. Its deplorable. Every thought, every tear, every fist raised in the air from frustration, all of it matters. Even intention matters. Like Miss Brit said, one at a time. Each one matters.

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  6. I know – rips your guts out. But with all the ugliness there is still beauty in the world. I’m not saying ignore the bad – just don’t forget to enjoy the good – otherwise you forget what you’re fighting for. Those breezes sound lovely – I would love to be in a place I could shout into the wind.

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  7. Such heartbreaking things go on, there is so much oppression. I think anger is definitely better than not caring, and anger can be channelled effectively into work for Amnesty or other organisations, though as you say the problems sometimes just seem too big…

    btw, I’ve given you an award, come over to my blog to find out more…

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  8. When this happens it is terrible, and we rage at the inhumanity. I realise that, then I remember what happened between us doing the same, and being ‘civilised’.
    Well, we had the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Age of Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution and so much more, slowly prizing ourselves away from barbarism, and forging a new way.
    It was the story of separating religion from society and politics, and finding a new place for it. It took about 600 years or so – about the same amount of time that Islam is younger than Christianity.
    Where the hell’s their Renaissance?!!! And let’s hope, when it comes, it will take a considerably shorter time than ours.

    Oh dear, I’ve been ranting again 😉

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  9. Where did you read/hear about this?

    Because I have seen NOTHING about it on TV news or the Internet news service I usually check. Not that I’m alleging it isn’t true, but what I’m finding scandalous is that our news agencies seem to think that what Sarah Palin spent on her dresses is more important.

    Would such things happen if those responsible knew that the whole world knew about it?

    ‘If you are kind towards women, and fear to harm them, God knows well what you do’ (The Qu’ran)

    This isn’t Islam; it’s barbarism.

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  10. I heard this on the news last week, though not the age of the woman, just that she was stoned for infidelity. Look carefully in my poem from last week and you will find the line.

    Selma, there is a line from a beautiful Holly Near song that says, ‘It could have been me but instead it was you so I’ll keep doing the work you were doing’- it could be anyone of us. A stupid bit of luck. And because of that we MUST do the work. Why else are we here?

    What can one person do? My answer: Sister Emmanuel, Nelson Mandela, Wangari Mathaii, Martin Luther King Jr., …. the list goes on. A whole hell of a lot. Every single change started with ONE PERSON.

    And you know what- it doesn’t happen every day this evilness, I don’t belevie that. That sort of comment leads to inaction. Also- Selma, don’t be discouraged by thinking you are far and what can you do? There are people right there in Sudan who are appalled too. People who, as we speak, are fighting for justice. See the conspiracy is that terrible things are happening ‘there’. So big and terrible that there is no hope. It is not true. I live in Africa. There are wonderful increadible life changing things happening every day only the silence drowns them out. Don’t be fooled by the loud ones. Good people are everywhere- we’re the REAL Sleepers.

    And what can you do? You did it already. Write. Speak. Stop the silence. Link up. Support. There is a tidal wave effect when we all move in the same direction. Watch out for it!

    Great post- sorry for rant, a bit close to my heart.

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  11. Lauri, that was wonderful. It’s like having two great posts in one. I know many Americans are clueless, and/or, inundated by skewed media stories that we don’t always get to hear that other people feel the same rage we do when these things happen.

    Thank you for reminding us (me) that we’re not so different, despite our place of residence.

    Thanks, Selma, for getting this started.

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  12. Epithany –

    Me three! I used to work for Greenpeace as well. Door-to-door fundraising. In the winter. In Wisconsin.

    Can I have some applause now?

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  13. RICHARD – I know, I know. I just can’t help it, though. I know inhumanity has a long pedigree but it doesn’t mean we can’t change it. Don’t give up, Richard.

    BRITT – Bless you, hon. Just what I needed to hear. XXX

    NAT – it’s absolutely shocking. One of my cousins works for Medecins Sans Frontieres and she has told me some things that left me stunned for days. She agrees that the problem is vast but does feel that organisations such as hers and the Red Cross really help people who would otherwise be left to suffer in silence. That gives me hope.

    KAREN – what you have just said is as good as the prayer of St. Francis. I’m going to print it out and put it above my desk. Thank you. You are the best!

    CHRIS – your comment is just fantastic. I know this is a subject Anthony is very passionate about and I can see you are too. Your ‘reefs of grief’ analogy is just so apt. I often feel like I am traversing stormy seas on the verge of being shipwrecked. Thank YOU for caring!

    EPIPHANY – I know what you mean about joining an organisation with less ‘legal’ practices. I have thought of it many times myself. Sometimes it seems to be the only way to get things done. And you are right – EACH ONE MATTERS!!!!!

    TEXASBLU – you have made a very important point. It’s crucial to strike a balance between looking at what is wrong with the world and appreciating what is right. There are still roses out there we can smell if we need to.

    CRAFTY GREEN – I think it is important to learn to channel that anger effectively. Every little bit helps. Thank you for the award. How kind you are. I will be over to visit shortly.

    ANTHONY – I love it when you rant. You’re the most eloquent ranter I know. Wow. Imagine if an Islamic Renaissance was on the cards in the future. What an incredible event that would be. You are so wise. Thank you.

    INGRID – I know. The horror of it all is just staggering.

    TRAVELRAT – I saw it on ABC news on Monday night and then again on SBS who as you probably know present a lot more international news. I have also read it online on the BBC and other news feeds.
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/11/02/2407869.htm

    I’ve also got the link to the Guardian article about it at the start of my post. I think it was overlooked in a lot of places due to the election and problems in the economy. I’m glad I caught it, though. And I agree if it was reported more widely it would raise the sense if outrage and perhaps prevent it from happening to someone else.

    LAURI – I am crying now, but happily. You are one in a million, my dear. I mean that!

    KAREN – I am blown away by Lauri’s comment. I am going to print that one out too. Soon my study wall will be plastered with uplifting comments!

    RICHARD – CLAP CLAP CLAP. Was there a wind chill factor too? 😆

    ROSHAN – I sometimes think that too. I hope it doesn’t happen.

    LINDA – they were great comments. I agree too!

    MELEAH – I know what you mean. Sometimes it’s all too much to take in. The comments here have given me so much hope, however. All of my readers are so cool!

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  14. I, too, read about the stoning of the young girl, age not mentioned, and I, too, felt sick inside to think of such brutality still in existence throughout the world. How to deal with the reality? I don’t have an answer, except to be more loving and understanding of my own loved ones, and, during my short span here on earth, the same toward my fellow human beings, at least to the best of my ability.
    As long as religion, all religions that worship a male god as the creator of all mankind, such brutality will, in some degree or other, hold sway over the minds of men. And, in many cases, women will meekly follow.

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  15. I have to say I agree with Travelrat that it’s a great shame these things are not more widely reported. I for one am sick to death of even our news services in Australia being monopolised by the election when things like this are largely being ignored as not being as important. How screwed up is that? That alone says a great deal about the priorities of the human race. Money and power will always win the ratings. It disgusts me more than I can possibly explain.

    Big changes can start with something as small as a ripple on a pond. We could all make a difference and it all begins with the first step. Simplistic? Maybe….but doing nothing and being apathetic will ensure things stay the same.

    Well done Selma for bringing this important issue to the forefront where it should have always been.

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  16. MARY – I definitely agree with you that the best way to deal with this is to look after and love those closest to us and just hope it has some kind of far-reaching effect. It’s a terrible, terrible thing.

    GYPSY – I agree that the priorities of the media are somewhat awry. It bothers me a lot too. How can we do something if we’re not armed with the information? You’re right about that first step. Even a ripple in a pond makes an impact.

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  17. That is a beautiful piece of writing, especially the last prosepoem paragraph. The earlier part is so human and honest while remaining technically perfect prose. Everyone is only one person but things change. Energy radiates and your effect on the world is immeasurable, like a frog jumping into a pond, and that effect is magnified by such wonderful writing.

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  18. PAUL – awww, thank you so much. You write beautifully yourself. I also believe energy radiates, even though initially we may not think so. I am so glad you visited.

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  19. i am right here with you in the outraged department… but i am forced to wonder if a part of being a world neighbor is not allowing other cultures to do what it is they do instead of trying to westernize everyone… i am not saying i belive this,, but i must raise the question……

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  20. EPIPHANY – Richard cracks me up. Now that’s what you call dedication.

    PAISLEY – it is an important point to raise. Often, this type of thing has gone on for thousands of years and is ingrained in a culture. I guess it comes down to whether the people actually involved felt it was an unjust act. I did read one news report where several people tried to intervene, so I suppose they were uncomfortable with it. I think this bears further research on my part.

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  21. I can hardly add much to the tremendous wisdom here from everyone else. The truth in your post rings clear and your ending words are most profound and insightful. And Laurie is so right. Change begins with individual choice and commitment. We should never feel that any step, any action, no matter how small it may seem, is insignificant or unimportant. The road can only be walked one step at a time.

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