When I was just a little girl
I asked my mother, what will I be?
Will I be pretty?
Will I be rich?
Here’s what she said to me*
You will flee your home and country just to survive. You will miss spending holidays with your friends and family because you will be living in a foreign land with strangers. You will have little to no support, and especially being a woman, you will need to be resourceful to stay alive and stay safe. You won’t have time for daydreams about being pretty or rich. You will need to be strong and resilient if you are going to live a long life. You will be as far back as your children’s family history goes. They will only know where they come from through your eyes and your stories. This is the price of freedom when you are born in a place under constant threat from weapons made and sold for profit.
Or you can stay. And be the third wife of an old man who will get you pregnant before your own body has matured enough to grow breasts to feed your first baby. A man who will decide all aspects of your life: from healthcare to education to spiritual ritual. Is that a life worth living? To be only a baby-maker, a food preparer, a cleaner. What of your hopes, dreams, and inspirations…
Here in a ‘developed’ country, in the year 2021, we are all about equal rights. Well, we preach that anyway, but in practice we fall a little short… We tell our girls, “Don’t dress provocatively, don’t walk alone, don’t go out at night, to avoid rape.” Instead of teaching our boys, “Do not rape.” We pay our female professionals a fraction of what the men make, in every industry. As if reproductive organs have any bearing on one’s ability to act, teach, or perform dental surgery.
The world is smaller than ever before. We fly ourselves all around the globe— into space even, holding very important meetings and communicating instantaneously, but we still can’t figure out how to keep our sons and daughters safe from the ancient practice of war. I can understand differing opinions, I can even understand contrasting values, what I can’t wrap my head around is the endless violence.
Living with the United States is like being in an abusive relationship. And while you might get some fancy baubles, (tanks and helicopters) it isn’t worth the physical and emotional anguish. Instead of black eyes and broken arms, we leave behind a new generation full of regrets and revenge. Why can’t we try something new? Let’s build a hospital, a school, a Holiday Inn Express with a business center, and then take the first flight home. It would certainly be cheaper, and it couldn’t end worse. Of course, we would have to find something besides fancy weaponry for destroying lives to spend our tax money on…
Hmm, I know. Maybe we could build up the infrastructure of our country, too. Pouring money into our hospitals, schools, and community centers (free wifi) doesn’t sound half bad. And I might add, if we’re not going to invest in the future of our own country, then why the hell would we spend so much money on the other side of the planet to “defend it”?
Pretty soon, I hope, the United States will take a good long look in the mirror and admit that Uncle Sam’s too old to still be driving this bus. He’s preoccupied with an old route and consequently we are missing stops; stops that we need to get off this military industrial complex-based economy.
The women in Afghanistan are about to pay dearly for all the bombs and guns— for all the homes and lives lost in the last twenty years. That is on us. But maybe once we get a leader who was not born of a war boom, we can spend some time and money forward, in the hopes that future generations won’t continue to kill and maim each other over past transgressions. They may even find time to bring about equality— or at least daydream about it.