Monday, May 21, 2007

She Is Always Seventeen

Now, I'm a sucker for storytelling, which is one of the reasons I adore Joss Whedon. But I find my life at a very strange intersection today. One storyteller I always enjoyed was the late Harry Chapin, who provided the title of this post. In one of my favorite songs about hope and optimism and doggone-it-the-world-can-get-better, he reminds us that:

Oh, she is always seventeen;
she has a dream that she will lend us and a love that we can borrow.
There is so much joy inside her she will even share her sorrow;
she's our past, our present, and our promise of tomorrow.
Oh, truly she's the only hope I've seen,
and she is always seventeen.

Joss Whedon is another of my favorite storytellers. His fiction has inspired me; made me laugh, and cry and think. His non-fiction demands that I act. Please contrast Chapin's 17 year old with this one:

Last month seventeen year old Dua Khalil was pulled into a crowd of young men, some of them (the instigators) family, who then kicked and stoned her to death. This is an example of the breath-taking oxymoron “honor killing”, in which a family member (almost always female) is murdered for some religious or ethical transgression. Dua Khalil, who was of the Yazidi faith, had been seen in the company of a Sunni Muslim, and possibly suspected of having married him or converted. That she was torturously murdered for this is not, in fact, a particularly uncommon story. But now you can watch the action up close on CNN. Because as the girl was on the ground trying to get up, her face nothing but red, the few in the group of more than twenty men who were not busy kicking her and hurling stones at her were filming the event with their camera-phones.

It’s no longer enough to shake our heads and make concerned grimaces at the news. True enlightened activism is the only thing that can save humanity from itself. I’ve always had a bent towards apocalyptic fiction, and I’m beginning to understand why. I look and I see the earth in flames. Her face was nothing but red. . . .

All I ask is this: Do something. Try something. Speaking out, showing up, writing a letter, a check, a strongly worded e-mail. . . . Even just learning enough about a subject so you can speak against an opponent eloquently makes you an unusual personage. Start with that. Any one of you would have cried out, would have intervened, had you been in that crowd in Bashiqa. Well thanks to digital technology, you’re all in it now.

Dua Khalil's voice was taken from her. I am certain that the jackals in the crowd who were filming her murder never thought anybody would care.

Well, I care. I'm part of Dua's voice. And I beg you to be part of it, too. This kind of terror isn't relegated to the Old Testament. It happens in our world, today, and in places with enough technological sophistication to have vidphones.

Please, it's harsh to think about, I know. But evil counts on good people to turn away, so please - stare it down. Follow the links and show the world that you're part of Dua's voice, too. It's not half a world away - thanks to vidphones, it's here; right here. On behalf of every 17 year old girl - whether that's you now, or you back when, or you to come - stare it down. If you have ever had a mother, or a sister, or dated a woman who ever has been 17 - stare it down.

Because that wasn't just Dua. That was all of us.


Stacked Librarian said...

When things like this happen I always feel as if my response is so inadequate. Like trying to empty a sinking ship with a colander. An impossible task to change a culture that not only supports but revels in this.

Akin said...

My cynical nature sometimes annoys me. I've gotten this way simply by living my life... due to the nature of the work I done for so long, I rarely encounter mankind's better side.

Intellectually, I've always known that crap like this goes on in the world. And, I know that basically nothing I can do is going to change things. The people who did this *know*, deep down inside, that they have done a Good Thing; the folks who filmed it weren’t documenting an atrocity, they were recording the festivities so they could happily relive it with their friends who were misfortunate enough to not be there.

Can anything you or I do really change people like that? No. Could the entire civilized world change them? Doubtful. They’d just turtle up and say, “See? They really are out to destroy our religion and culture, just like we knew all along! At long last, the Jihad begins! I hope the virgins are ready in Paradise for me!”

I don’t know if it’s possible to make people like this realize that they are committing atrocities.


Still, we can do the little that we can. If nothing else, I hope everyone will join me in wearing a Dua shirt at the CSTS screenings...

Akin said...

It also annoys me that you cannot edit your comments when you discover a minor mistake...

Mockingbird said...

I have to admit to being a little surprised - I've written about this in several forums, as well as here, and what I'm getting in terms of feedback is - nuttin'. (Well, aside from one poster on a site who keeps saying that we need to "clean up our own doorstep first" - hang on, Dua, we'll get to you after we've straightened up here!)

I don't know - maybe the problem is so big and so horrific that we just find it easier to turn away. But I keep seeing in my minds' eye this lovely young woman uselessly stretching out a hand to stop the stones as she lays on the packed ground, her face (as Joss said) "nothing but red."

We used to burn witches, too. Society CAN evolve. Islam is the faith that gave the world algebra (OK, maybe not that great a gift, if you're working high school math) and kept the flames of literature and science alive during Europe's Dark Ages.

We can do better.