Monthly Archives: October 2012

International Day of the Girl, by Andrea W. Doray

Without Us, the International Day of the Girl is Just an Ideal 

Andrea W. Doray

 Andrea Doray, Writing for Peace Board MemberOctober 11 this year was the first “International Day of the Girl.”

Two days before that, 14-year-old Malala Yousufzai was shot in the head in an assassination attempt by the Taliban.

And four days before that, 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway was abducted from her Westminster, Colorado, neighborhood, to be found murdered a week later.

Malala—who has inspired people around the world with her public stand against the Taliban’s ban on education for girls—is recovering in a hospital in Britain.

Jessica—who united a community in its search for her, and united a nation in its support of her family—did not survive.

The ideals of the International Day of the Girl…

What happened to Malala and Jessica is in stark contrast to the ideals of the International Day of the girl, adopted by the United Nations to recognize girls’ rights and to create awareness of the unique challenges girls face around the world.

Other organizations, in celebrating the International Day of the Girl, have said that, “When girls have the opportunity to be educated…society as a whole benefits.”

And both Malala and Jessica loved school. One, Jessica, was on her way to school when she disappeared. The other, Malala, was on her way home from school when she was shot by assassins sent from the Pakistani Taliban.

Tragically, it is our horror and disbelief that connect the 10-year-old from a quiet and nurturing Denver suburb with the 14-year-old from a village in northwestern Pakistan.

Both beloved by their families, both innocents, both children.

Both targeted, in part, for their gender.

An international travesty…

I believe that few of us would disagree that what happened to these girls is a travesty…a travesty against their youth, a travesty against their justice, a travesty against their right to exist.

And I believe that these two violent acts are violence against us, as well. When the world’s children are attacked, all of us are attacked…attacked to the very foundations of society.

Because anywhere girls are supported in reaching their potentials can be a society of secure futures for families and for communities, for nations and, by reasonable extension, the world.

In Colorado, USA, a program called “The Blossom Project” gathered proclamations from around the state to honor girls and hosted events to celebrate October 11.

The Blossom Project uses education to inspire high school girls to create visionary change, believing that young women play a critical role in the development of global civil society.

Some sobering statistics…

However, according to the National Women’s Law Center, one in four girls in America does not finish high school, and the Population Resource Bureau says that only 30% of girls worldwide are ever even enrolled in secondary school.

UNESCO—the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization—reports also that, by 2015, females will make up 64% of the world’s adult population who cannot read.

The ideals of the International Day of the Girl that help galvanize worldwide enthusiasm to improve the lives of girls are just that—ideals—without the attention and action of people like you and me. Contact Writing for Peace for ways to help.

In their honor…

Malala Yousufzai, when she recovers, may get the chance to continue her education, to reach her potential, to play her role in the development of global civil society.

Jessica Ridgeway will not.

Don’t both of these girls deserve our action, in their honor, to make sure that other young girls do?

 

 

Andrea W. Doray is an award-winning author, essayist, poet, and humanist living in Arvada, CO. Learn more about Andrea here.

 

 

Get Involved:

DoveTales, a publication of Writing for Peace

 

Call for Submissions: Be a part of our first issue of DoveTales.  The Writing for Peace Literary Journal, DoveTales is accepting poetry, fiction, essays, photography, and art. The submission deadline is October 30th. Find Submission guidelines here.

2013 Young Writers Contest: Poetry, Fiction, and Nonfiction divisions, ages 13-19. Find guidelines here.

Writing for Peace is developing an online Mentor Program: Learn more and apply here.

 

Copyright © 2012 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

 

Tell the Men, by Dean Metcalf

Tell the Men

by Dean Metcalf

Dean Metcalf1985: I came home to California from one of my freelance journalism trips to Central America, feeling pretty ragged. A friend recommended that I see an acupuncturist known for her ability to balance a person’s energies. As I was lying on the table, she was “reading my pulses,” the term she used to gauge what was happening inside a patient.

After a short time, she dropped my wrist and stepped back with a somewhat stricken look on her face. “Where have you been?” she asked. “… and what have you been doing?”

I replied, in a rush of words, that I’d been in southern Honduras, in a Contra camp on the Río Coco, which is the border with Nicaragua in that area. I told her I’d spent 8 days with 3 mercenaries – two North Americans and one Cuban who was a virulent anti-communist and who held his garotte in front of my nose with a smile like dry ice, after he found out I had sympathies for “the other side.” Also in the camp were a couple of dozen young Miskito and Sumo Indian warriors who never worried about where their rifle muzzles were pointing. They weren’t threatening me; they just weren’t trained to handle their weapons otherwise.

So I looked down a lot of rifle barrels that week.

I had a dream when I got home. I dreamed I was in command of a military detail. We were attacked from the air, and machine gun bullets were punching holes in the corrugated steel walls of the Quonset hut near my head.

This poem grew out of that dream, and out of experiences in Vietnam, Laos, Nicaragua…

Tell the Men

by Dean Metcalf

 I. I am the dream commander.

       All around me
       along the smoky runway
       men fall, strafed
       spinning
                bloody
                          down.
     
       I scream, but
       they will not believe:
       our own
             top secret
             quiet rotor
             radar guided
             night vision
             heat seeking
       dream metal dragonflies
       have returned
       to kill us.

 II.   "But they're ours!" men scream
       as they stand, are hit, and fall
          spinningbloodydown.

       Running, my body floats above the runway
       among thumb size neon red tracers
       borne upon their own wind: puffs of it
       pass between my ribs.

III.   In this dream, only I know:
       words
       are weapons.

       All around me, men see,
       trying not to see.

       Men fail to aim their words
       at the real enemy.

       Men drop their books
       or read absently

       standing in the open
       as if life were not dangerous.

 IV. Sergeant!

       Work your way along the line.

       Tell the men:

              Fill sandbags with words.
              Build a parapet to fight behind.
              If they are the right words
              you live.

       Tell every man:

              Dip each fifth word
              in your own blood,
              so your shots will glow red:
              tracers to locate your targets
                     in the dark.

       Tell every man to sharpen one word.

              Say, You must choose:
              "yes" or "no."
              Snap it onto your rifle,
              for when this gets down to bayonets.

       Tell all the men:

              It's not the men of darker skin
              who broadcast our blood upon the land
              as a poor shopkeeper tosses water
              from a red plastic pail
              to settle dust on an unpaved street.

       Tell the men:

              We toss our own blood in the dust
              where crimson arterial spurts of it
              roll into powdery skins
              like water in flour
              no longer recognizable as blood
              it could be any dark liquid:
              it could be used crankcase oil.

       Tell them:

              We live and die
                     by what we think
                     by what we write
                     by what we say
                     by what we do.

        Tell the men:

              Get your words.
              Get in the trenches.
              Here they come.

This poem was first published several years ago in the online journal RIVEN, edited by Michael Spring. Tell the Men© 2012 Dean Metcalf

Rattlesnake Dreams, by Dean Metcalf

About Dean Metcalf…

Dean Metcalf is the author of RATTLESNAKE DREAMS: An American Warrior’s Story, and a world-traveling journalist whose articles were distributed by Pacific News Service, San Francisco.  His work  has appeared in publications such as Denver Post, Cleveland Plain Dealer, San Jose (CA) Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, Village Voice, South Africa Weekly Mail, Oakland (CA) Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and San Francisco Review of Books. Read more about Dean here.

Purchase RATTLESNAKE DREAMS: An American Warrior’s Story here.

Get Involved:

DoveTales, a publication of Writing for Peace

 

Call for Submissions: Be a part of our first issue of DoveTales.  The Writing for Peace Literary Journal, DoveTales is accepting poetry, fiction, essays, photography, and art. The submission deadline is October 30th. Find Submission guidelines here.

2013 Young Writers Contest: Poetry, Fiction, and Nonfiction divisions, ages 13-19. Find guidelines here.

Writing for Peace is developing an online Mentor Program: Learn more and apply here.

 

Copyright © 2012 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

 

On Finding Peace through Forgiveness, by Pamela Martin

Pamela Martin, Writing for Peace Adviser On Finding Peace through Forgiveness

by Pamela Martin

Did you ever notice how a lack of harmony in the home can spread like a contagion? How a morning argument can ripple outward to impact the dog, a random barista, or a work colleague? And what if that original argument was allowed to smolder for years, inflamed by accusations and tended by the poker of renewed offenses? Think of the hundreds of innocents who would have to suffer from the fall-out.

In hopes that it might make inroads in countering such a trend, I wanted to share a letter I wrote to a relative of mine; I’ll call him Sam. A 21-year-old senior this year, he’s a rugby player and Biochem major. He’s smart: a self-professed Renaissance man, and someone I’ve always had a strong connection to, I think because we share a love of good books. Sam’s parents had a messy divorce; his mom had cheated on his dad and the man she’d been seeing moved into their home after the break-up. It happened fast, before either of her kids was ready for it. The ex-husband hired a very skilled lawyer, and later sued for custody (and won). Both boys are estranged from their mom; their father hasn’t forgiven her (nor she him) and the evidence continues to play out more than a decade later. I’ll admit she doesn’t help matters by repeatedly violating the post-divorce cardinal rule: “No trash talking the ex in front of the kids.” But I think he has the unfair advantage. He’s got the entire culture on his side. The cheater is so disparaged by the media, the law, etc. and the one cheated upon so lauded as a saint. And yet we’re talking about human beings. Nothing about relationships can be confined to strictly black or white categories. I only want Sam to consider the complexity of the case, and to perhaps open a small corner somewhere in his heart where possibilities might live. His mother isn’t perfect, but she loves him with the fierceness any tigress has for its cub, regardless of how far afield he’s strayed.

I’m still debating whether or not I should send it.

Dear Sam,

There are few people you meet in the course of your life who would jump in front of a bus for you: your parents, your spouse (maybe, if she has good knees), your kids, a really special friend or two. What’s that…six, seven people? Your mom is one in that elite group and she proved it by bailing you out of jail that one time. You know she’ll make sacrifices for you, and like all offspring, you torture her because you know you can get away with it—because she’s not going anywhere and will keep paying her phone bill so you can call her up to come and bail you out of jail (though hopefully never again). It’s an agreement she signed up for on the day you were born and its promise will hold forever.

But like all parents she isn’t perfect. It’s true. She can even be exasperating. She does that thing where she stretches the truth into unrecognizable shapes. She’s an exaggerator, a natural story-teller, and sometime fabricator. One could argue it’s a family trait you also share. You have a zest for the flashy turn of phrase that provides “color” to an otherwise drab tale. Maybe she believes her own fish stories too much, and won’t admit the truth even when it’s staring at her from a certain pair of dark brown eyes. But it’s tough when any set of eyes stare In Judgment. No parent is made of as strong a stuff as her kids think she should be. We are all only human.

That said, te essential core of your mom is pretty nice, and she did put whole years of her life into you and your interests (scouts, basketball, baseball, crew: coaching, leading, cheering all the way). She tried to make a happy childhood for you in the best way she could. She and your dad had a terrible divorce—and you and your brother have borne the brunt. But every relationship story (if you’ll indulge me and allow it to be called as such) has two sides. It’s the human mind, that imperfect organ, which demonizes others and cloaks experience in opposites like “right” and “wrong,” “victim” and “victimizer.” But reality lies affixed somewhere in the middle ground, in a place that’s all too often beyond the grasp of puny reason—especially where matters of the heart are concerned. It’s true your parent’s marriage was flawed, and their divorce was flawed, and their communication continues to flounder in “what has come before,” that is to say, in those stories that remain chained to their respective (read: limited) understanding.

As an adult who wants what’s best for you, my wish for you is that you would get some distance from the “he saids” and the “she saids,” and see the truth of what’s underneath (fallibility, ignorance, maybe the whisker of a bi-polar disorder)—and there in the shadows, I think if you were to become very still, I bet you could see beyond the grudges to the enormous love they share— for you. That’s probably as good as it gets. But is that so bad, really?

Besides, champions are hard to come by, and it hurts you as well as your mom to throw your relationship away languishing near figurative piles of coffee grounds and old banana peels. You’re young but you’re not stupid, so maybe you’re shaking your head right now, thinking you naïve, silly, well-meaning relative. Here’s what my years have taught me; life whizzes by in a blink, and the only thing that matters are the people you love. Why waste any more time when you could all feel better if you laid down your emotional weapons of mass and minimal destruction and embraced each other?

Why not call your mom this weekend and ask her to tell you a story (a new one)?

 

About Pamela Martin…

Pam Martin is an MFA graduate of Naropa University’s creative writing program (2001), and a member of Denver Lighthouse Writers. She’s published numerous features as a business correspondent, and as a staff magazine writer for The O&P EDGE. Staged readings of her play and original monologues have been performed in Naropa’s Arts Center, and more recently, at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art.

 

Get Involved:

DoveTales, a publication of Writing for Peace

 

Call for Submissions: Be a part of our first issue of DoveTales.  The Writing for Peace Literary Journal, DoveTales is accepting poetry, fiction, essays, photography, and art. The submission deadline is October 30th. Find Submission guidelines here.

2013 Young Writers Contest: Poetry, Fiction, and Nonfiction divisions, ages 13-19. Find guidelines here.

Writing for Peace is developing an online Mentor Program: Learn more and apply here.

 

Copyright © 2012 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

 

 

Writing to Mobilize the Global Community, by Alexandra Kinias

Alexandra Kinias, Writing for Peace AdviserWriting to Mobilize the Global Community

by Alexandra Kinias

 

My focus as a writer and activist has always been directed toward establishing equal rights for women, and collaborating with the Writing for Peace team is a dream come true. In this time and age, with the availability of the social media, writing has become an important weapon in fighting against the injustices that women face in many parts of the world.

In 2010, the United Nations introduced an agency dedicated to promoting the rights of women and girls, yet enormous violations are still reported on a daily basis. While you are reading this post, women around the world are being bullied, raped, oppressed, controlled and punished under the banner of culture, traditions, tribal laws and religious scripts that encourage violence, abuse and persecution.  The quest for material about women’s issues always takes me on an emotional journey filled with an abundance of painful stories.

As women in the west are fighting for more rights, there are women elsewhere who are still unable to procure a passport or travel without their male guardians’ consent. Some are not allowed to drive a car, or work, or are forced against their will to cover up from head to toe. In many countries, laws favor men over women, actually giving men license to abuse girls and women.  In 2010, in the United Arab Emirates, the emerging pearl that is dazzling the world with its wealth and architecture, a court ruled that a man may physically discipline his wife and daughters as long as the beatings don’t leave bruises.

When Time Magazine featured the disfigured face of Bibi Aisha on its summer 2012 cover, the world was horrified by the gruesome story of the young Afghan woman whose Taliban husband cut off her nose and ears as punishment for running away. The Taliban’s medieval practices also include execution and death by stoning. But this brutality is not restricted to Taliban extremists; in Afghanistan, a law was drafted that actually gave men the right to starve their wives if they refused to have sex with them.  Bibi’s story is not unique. In fact, Afghani women have been known to burn themselves to death to escape from their husbands.

In much of the developing world, girls are trafficked for sex, subjected to female genital mutilation, denied the right of education, and sold into marriages before they reach adolescence. Every day, approximately 25,000 girls become child brides. It is estimated that one in seven girls is married before she turns 15. Brutal flogging and vitriolage, the act of throwing acid onto the person’s body to disfigure them, are still used to punish them. As such practices are embedded in the culture and traditions, and encouraged by religious clerics in these societies; it will be hard to eradicate them, unless there is a global intervention to save the lives and future of these innocent girls.  It is shameful to say that in the twenty-first century, women are killed in the name of honor.

Women’s freedom, rights, health, education, social and financial independence is important for the prosperity of their communities. The future generations depend on them and so does the future of the world we are living in.  Writing brings awareness to such issues, mobilizing the global community to take measures to improve the lives of women. We have one world to share, and we are all responsible for its peace and prosperity.

My novel, Black Tulips, features four Egyptian women from very diverse social and economic backgrounds that face a common adversary – a male dominant society. Sherine Radwan, the first appointed prime minister in Egypt is challenged not only by a corrupt cabinet, but by her husband as well.

In this excerpt, Sherine’s husband has just invoked the triple talaq, “I divorce you, I divorce you, I divorce you!” As prime minister, the humiliation is acute. Despite her house keeper’s comforting words, Sherine feels the powerlessness of a woman in a patriarchal culture.

Her response reflects her exasperation:

Tell me the name of one woman you know who wasn’t abused by a man simply because he could get away with it, because the law is on his side.”

“Why don’t you change the law?” asked Rashida. “You are the only one who can do it.”

“You sound like Ida. You guys don’t understand. It’s easier to start wars, negotiate treaties, invade countries or enforce sanctions on another than to issue laws to protect women’s rights. Any right given to a woman is one taken away from a man. Believe me, someone will find a line in a forgotten book written a thousand years ago to justify why women can’t do this or that. Rashida, sustaining the status quo is a guarantee to maintain the artificial power imbalance between the genders that had been dictated millennia ago. I’m tired of fighting. My whole life has been a continuous war, one battle after the other.”

Black Tulip, by Alexandra Kinias

About Alexandra Kinias…

Born and raised in Egypt, Alexandra Kinias is a mechanical engineer, screenwriter, photographer, and novelist. She co-wrote the internationally acclaimed movie Cairo Exit, censored in Egypt, but winner of the prize for best non-European film in the European Independent Film festival. Her articles appear in Kalimat magazine, a North American publication about the Arab region, and her blog Silenced Voices, Wasted Lives is dedicated to women’s issues in general and women in the Middle East in particular. Her novel, “Black Tulips”, reveals the hardships that women are exposed to living in male dominant societies. To purchase on Amazon, click here.

Read more about Alexandra here.

 

 

Get Involved:

DoveTales, a publication of Writing for Peace

 

Call for Submissions: Be a part of our first issue of DoveTales.  The Writing for Peace Literary Journal, DoveTales is accepting poetry, fiction, essays, photography, and art. The submission deadline is October 30th. Find Submission guidelines here.

2013 Young Writers Contest: Poetry, Fiction, and Nonfiction divisions, ages 13-19. Find guidelines here.

Writing for Peace is developing an online Mentor Program: Learn more and apply here.

 

Copyright © 2012 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.