Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Their Wounds are Our Wounds: Relevant World News

Pardon me, but I'm going to step up on my soapbox now:

I'm aware that I don't write the typical "mommy blog," and I'm fine with that. Fact is that I'm just not all that into adding yet another virtual chapter to the saga of losing the baby weight, sex after baby, taming toddlers with 'tude, and finding a pair of jeans that addresses (insert hated body part post-baby here). It's been covered, ALOT, and by people way more talented and pleasurable to read than I.

And, I'm not saying that people who do write and read about that are lacking. I'm strangely drawn to the tales of Angelina and Brad, et al. as well. And Lord knows I'll sign up for a pair of jeans that can a.) tame the donut, b.) lift the bum, and c.) not bring to mind visions of Joe the Plumber when I bend down for the hundredth time to retrieve my kid from whatever mess-in-the-making he is hell bent on plunging himself into. Just like any other mother, I also discuss all the minutiae of motherhood with my girlfriends, trying to figure out how to get my kid to eat vegetables and not put his buddies in a head lock at playgroup. I write about it to, just browse my archive here. I'm not smarter, I'm not a saint, I don't have all the answers.

It's just that when I became a mother, instead of the world getting smaller, it got bigger, a whole lot bigger. For me it is the gift and the challenge of this new chapter in my life. I have brought a life to this planet, and although I was always fairly informed about what was happening beyond our borders, it was just not something that touched a nerve regularly and with, well, relevance.

So for me when I read the back and forth about Michelle Obama and weather she is selling herself short to just be "Mom in Chief," I don't fret about what her choices say about mine, or their implications for women. What I think is that she understands that motherhood is a powerful platform for womanhood. The mother has a covenant to keep for herself and her world when she first felt that flutter in her belly. Lifting this up rather than tearing it down ought to be the covenant we keep with fellow women. Motherhood doesn't define a woman, but it does dramatically alter her landscape.

And that landscape ought to include the rest of the world. The other covenant we should keep is not to turn away from other women and mothers in the world, and herein lies a driving passion of this mommy blogger. Countless reports have affirmed the basic principle that when women are educated and empowered in a society, things get better. Somehow, those who want to control others for negative ends understand this, and they are merciless to women in their sphere.

So I write about things you won't always read on other mommy blogs. They don't get high clicks, but they are a calling from which I can't turn away. Motherhood is a bridge between cultures, and something tells me this First Lady to be, like countless before her gets that.

You can't solve the world's problems, but you can do your part to not turn away, and to teach your children well. As women and mothers in a blessed position to be able to speak, we have a responsibility to make sure their stories are told, and their suffering not suppressed.

By all means, be interested in the strange mysteries of teething and potty training, be outraged if you wish about Motrin marginalizing babywearers, but please don't look away from these stories as well:
  • The International Criminal Court is considering a key ruling as to weather systematic rape, such as that planned and executed by President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan against three ethnic groups, constitutes genocide. As David Scheffer writes in the International Herald Tribune, "Hanging in the balance is whether the heinous strategy of mass rape in modern warfare will be condemned and prosecuted for what it truly is: genocide." He quotes one observer as saying, "'In this society if you rape one woman, you have raped the entire tribe.'"
  • Female leaders in Afghanistan face increasing security threats from the ousted Taliban, and yet they persist in speaking, as long as their faces and names are not printed. The risks are grave, certain death or maiming and threats to their families. But as one leader was quoted as saying in an AP report, "'My philosophy is that you are born, and one day you will be dying. So why not die while being an ideal for others?'"
  • Democratic nation building is a tricky thing, more so especially when doing so in a society that does not share key common cultural norms. In Iraq, while empowering tribal and religious leaders has been a strategic move that has netted some degree of increased security to strengthen the fragile freedom of Iraqis, women aren't faring as well. While violence abates somewhat, tribal killings of women is increasing. The newly empowered leaders are imposing brutally interpreted codes of Islam that among others things disallows educating women and sanctions "honor killings."
  • Meanwhile, Islamic feminists struggle to reclaim what they say are the sources of their religion that do not sanction this brutality and repression of women.
  • Perhaps one of the most tragic consequences of the attack on Mumbai is its legacy for the children. Much as our 9/11 did, Mumbai's horrific attack leaves deep and resonate wounds on the children for which all mothers cry.
  • In Zimbabwe, a terrible situation of hunger, has gotten unimaginably worse as Cholera grips the land. The tragic consequences of a leader allowed to run amok.
  • The death of a fifteen year old at the hands of police has sparked riots in Greece unlike any seen for decades. Gripped by difficult financial straits and sensational political corruption, the threads of society are unraveling alarmingly.

This list is not meant to paralyze with despair, but to inspire with a shared burden, and a passion to remain alert to the sufferings of this world, while working to change your little corner of it, one well loved and secure child, supported fellow woman and mother, responsible and accountable government, and blog post at a time.

Now this mommy shall step off her pedestal and seek her bed. Lack of sleep is a pressing issue for mothers I hear.

Photo Courtesy of http://www.stolenchildhood.net/

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