Blind Rage

There are times when the bite of anger is so real and so piercing, that my only response is to rant and write.

On December 16th in New Delhi, India a 23-year-old female physiotherapy student was gang raped.

Today she died of the injuries sustained during that rape.

And I am in a blind rage. I rage at the men – the perpetrators of this act. I rage at the police, the collaborators by making the woman feel as though she was in the wrong, I rage at a world that allows this to happen. I grow sick as I think of the event, nauseated as I hear her screams in my mind.

More than anything I weep. I’ve been following the story, desperately hoping for a good outcome, desperately praying for a miracle.

But early morning in a hospital in Singapore where she was flown to receive treatment this woman, this young woman student with her life ahead of her, died, surrounded by her family.

I am caught once again between two worlds – the world I see around me shouts of evil, sin, broken systems, political oppression, power, rape, horror; the other world whispers that we are made for something so much better, created for so much more, made in the image of God to glorify Him.

My Christmas tree twinkles bright lights, Oxford carols are playing on a near broken CD player, I try and shield myself from the horror I feel.

And my blind rage is because I feel caught between these two, knowing I am not innocent myself, longing for wrong to be made right, wishing that this woman was home safe eating a curry with her family. And I wonder did the love of God reach down to her particular Hell?

They say she died “peacefully”.

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A Late Night Response

I have just finished watching hours of commentary on the Middle East as I put final touches on a health presentation I am doing tomorrow. And I feel compelled to write.

An ambassador and other public service officers have been killed. It is a tragedy, and a condemned act of violence.

The last time an American ambassador was killed was in Kabul in 1978 — and I was in Kabul. As a senior in high school I had gone to Afghanistan on a school trip to participate in a Fine Arts festival at the American International School of Kabul. While there, the famous military coup transpired, paving the way for the Russian invasion in 1979. As an adult I now understand the diplomatic nightmare at play; not only did the foreign service personnel have to worry about their staff in Afghanistan, they had hundreds of added students and staff from international schools throughout Pakistan as well as from Delhi, India. It was an emergency, much like the current situation in Libya

And with this recent event there are a lot of voices, and so much opinion. Even as those in public service are mourned, politicians are using the grief for gain.

The stereotypes on both sides of the globe are reinforced. Over and over we see images of fires, riots, and demonstrations in Egypt,Yemen, and Libya. With Friday prayers, the worry is that violence will spread farther in the region.

And on this side of the globe the cries arise: “Jihadists” “Islamists” “Fanatics”. “They hate us” many say, fueling an already blazing fire of misunderstanding.

Yet, even as I am burdened and frustrated by an amateur film maker who, in making what sounds like a sub par film, has incited rage throughout the Muslim world, I support his right to do so.

Was it wise? No.

Was it correct? Probably not.

Was it his choice to do so? Absolutely.

That’s what we preach, that’s what we boast – that we live in a democracy that allows freedom of speech.

Over a year ago I wrote a post called “Protected Privilege, Awesome Responsibility”. And right now at 11pm, while watching CNN in a hotel bedroom in Lincoln, Nebraska thinking of my daughter, living just blocks from the American Embassy in Cairo, I looked back at what I wrote. I have posted an excerpt below. To understand the full context I have linked the post but even without that context the words below express my viewpoint.

Freedom of Speech. It is a privileged protection and an awesome responsibility. Only days before our neighborhood became the target for these messages, my husband and I had been at a lecture on the apostasy law in Pakistan. As I passed the signs I couldn’t help but think that the messengers have no clue what a privilege it is to live in a country that allows freedom of speech.  It was fully their right to be there and broadcast what I consider to be messages that are at best unwise and at worst vitriolic and hateful. No one would think to arrest them or charge them for breaking a law and this gift is not enjoyed world-wide.

And though I desperately want to rip the signs down shouting “You have no right to present God in this way” and let those around me know that this message is one of extremism and that the God I love walks among us, knows our hearts, and loves with a love that is deeper than deep, I respect freedom of speech. I know that the privileged protection of speech used on vans with venom also protects me. It protects outwardly through the law of the land, and it protects inwardly by challenging me to carefully weigh words and meaning so that I may not abuse this protection.  Freedom of speech is a gift to be used carefully and protected continually.

The incidents of the last few days are a compelling challenge to all of us who value our freedom of speech, and recognize its power and gifts, to use these gifts for building bridges; to commit to communicating across boundaries and being agents to heal the great divide.

Texting, Emoticons & Miscommunication

“Let’s all eradicate the emoticon” was the challenge in a humorous article put out by CNN Tech the beginning of December.  (Evidently the guy who invented the emoticon did so because on-line computer science groups didn’t recognize humor….now there’s a surprise!)

I couldn’t agree more!  It’s hard enough to limit my words into a reasonable number that can fit into a text message and still be understandable.  Add in emoticons and the words often take on a tone of their own.  I realized that emoticons could grossly misrepresent my emotions in their delivery a couple of years ago.   My husband was away at a conference, I stayed home with the kids and one extra addition – a friend visiting my daughter.

In the middle of the week, sort of at the “Ok – I’ve had enough” point  my husband sent me a text message  saying he was thinking of me and he loved me….I responded with an emoticon and there is where the trouble began.  I did not know that all emoticons are not created equal and that in transmission they could be translated and then interpreted into something I did not mean.  As my two smiley faced, yellow, happy, not a care in the world emoticons made their way through sprint wireless they translated into red devils.

On return it took a while  to sort out what had happened that day – but sort it we did.  We looked back at the messages, both Sent and Received.  There were the culprit emoticons looking completely innocent unaware of the havoc wreaked by their silly little faces.  How could these emoticons have so failed me in transmission and translation?  In the words of “The Economist” don’t they realize “they add life to  (my) telegraphic language of text messages” ? A language that I use daily in communicating to many around me.

I no longer use emoticons as much as I used to.  I can’t afford the potential miscommunication.   :) :(  So let’s eradicate the emoticon and revolutionize the way we communicate, or at least improve it.

If you want to see how European politics look through emoticons take a look at the first article: Emoticon Diplomacy