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.