Tuesday, August 24, 2010

She Knows!

Fang gets such a big kick out of asking the grands questions and waiting for the answers. He recently asked our Dickerson grandson: Where was Moses when the lights went out? It took him a minute or two, but he gave the answer. A week later when he and his sister were in the back room bouncing on the bed while Paw Paw watched, the boy asked his little sister: Where was Moses when the lights went out? Paw Paw pointed out that she might not KNOW who Moses was. Looking at Paw Paw with one of those subtle but pointed smiles the grand said: She knows who Moses is.

That started a discussion between Fang and me about how many kids actually know who Moses is, but it was time to go to sleep, so we left that discussion for another day and just chuckled over the kids and some of the things that they have said that tickle us. For instance, about this time last year the little girl had finished her first day of kindergarten. Her mother told her that she needed to go into her room and choose the clothes she would be wearing the next day. The child's astonished question was: You mean I have to go back?

Having read some of the news today, I was encouraged to know that the trapped miners in Chile can see some hope of leaving that mine alive. These men need all the help that the nation and world can provide to free them from a certain and slow death in the depths of blackness. One of the first things they asked for was toothbrushes. One can only imagine what weeks without a toothbrush could do. But one thing sent down to them other than food was 33 extra strong mag lights so that each man could see what was around him. Being without sufficient food is one thing, but being deep in darkness could certainly send a person over the bend in a hurry.

Now, I have a point to mentioning those miners. They were making their living down in the bowels of the earth, and that was probably the only employment available to them or they would not have been in such an unsafe place. Still, they had a choice about leaving the sunlight and becoming restricted to a dark place. Some women in this world do not have the luxury of that choice. They are no more than slaves or chattel of little value, and their darkness is the burka or burqa, that all encompassing garment that becomes a walking tent when a woman must wear it.

In some countries--Israel and France--wearing the burka has been totally discouraged or outlawed. The French refuse to allow anyone to use public transportation who is wearing a burka--probably because either a man or woman would be unrecognizable and could easily conceal explosives or firearms under the garment. Only the ultra orthodox in the Jewish community would have their women wear the burka, and the rabbis in Israel discourage such a restriction on women and consider its use a type of sexual deviancy.

Other countries refuse to allow the garments to be worn in any school or university, but some countries have just slowly begun the elimination of the garments, including parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The problem with a burka is as symbolic as it is a reality. If a woman has no identity, she has no meaning as a person. This same attitude prevailed in America for centuries concerning the black people and the American Indians. Unseen as individuals, these people had no rights or value to those who "conquered" this land. What was stolen from them included more than land or liberty, but their very identities. How can one have hope in life if one has no name, no place, no value?

Women have not always been appreciated in America--lacking the right to vote or even own property for many years. But men in the United States had something to guide them that had nothing to do with hiding their women in tents or behind veils. Just as our grandson said, they knew who Moses was.

No comments: