Women in White Change the World

As I watched the unfolding events in Iran over the last seven days, I was deeply moved by the marchers, a cross section of Iranian society. I was particularly moved by the women I saw, dressed from head to toe in black, their eyes spoke across cultural, economic and social boundaries to touch me and remind me of witnessing the protests that resulted from the contested election in Mexico in 2006. Knowing not much, if anything significant about what was really going on in Iran, the eyes of the protesters said everything to me: No more. Basta. Enough.

Learning of the death of Neda Agha-Soltan this weekend touched something deeper still inside me. Her singular death, staged as some claim or not, is a metaphorical death as well. Her death is death to the long history in humanity of senseless and brutal crackdowns on peaceful people who express a different version of events than perhaps a government prefers. Democratic or not, eventually, leaders must hear the call of justice.

Photo of Neda Agha-Soltan who died Saturday, June 20, 2009
Photo of Neda Agha-Soltan who died Saturday, June 20, 2009

I respect the decision of our government to not give fodder for any further claims by the Iranian powers in charge currently that there are forces outside instead of inside protesting.

I don’t need to be an election official or a statistician to know you can’t count that many ballots in such a short time. Please.

Yet, I feel a kinship with the women who were and are out on that street, for those women who give their lives. I want some how to connect with them and say, ‘I understand what it feels like to want to speak up and make change, and to be threatened in your physical being to prevent you from doing so.’

I do not want to be a cause of more civil rights abuses in your country, yet, some way, some how, I want you to know that I know what you are feeling, and we witness what is happening to you.

This past weekend, feeling particularly powerless against my own insurance provider who has now denied even the medication that could help me fight the RSD in my body, I watched Bill Moyer’s Journal this past Friday. By the end of the program, I felt stupid for even feeling powerless, not after I saw what the women of Liberia did to change their world.

Women dressed in white said NO MORE. BASTA. ENOUGH. And they had their way. The way of justice and right walking on this road called life is crucial now.

Leymah Gbowee, and the Market Women change Liberia
Leymah Gbowee, and the Market Women change Liberia

I was deeply moved by Leymah Gbowee for the spirit that moved her to take such a courageous stand against Liberia’s ruthless dictator Charles Taylor, and that moves her today in sharing her story through the award-winning film PRAY THE DEVIL BACK TO HELL. This documentary was produced by Abigail Disney, a philanthropist, business woman and community activist who founded the Daphne Foundation, serves on the board for the Global Fund for Women and had a hand in creating Liberty Media for Women which secured funding to keep Ms. Magazine afloat.

As I read today in the New York Times that Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, refuses not only to LISTEN to the people, but sends out tanks and police and thugs against them, I could only turn to such courage as that shown by Leymah Gbwoee and the ‘market women’ employing an ancient tactic that was also used by the women of ancient Greece: NO PEACE, NO SEX.

Laughing yet? Well, it worked well enough that Liberia is now ruled by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first female African head of state.

I have been told that when the Native Americans met the Europeans first, they asked, and I am paraphrasing here: ‘Where are your women folk? Who speaks to Creator for you?,’ For it was the women that brought Spirit’s words and teachings to the people.

Women in White show me that perhaps we need a little rebalancing in our civic affairs, a time to balance our walk on this earth, and how people are treated.

There will be no hiding from Women in White when they come together to bring truth to a world tired of lies, cover-ups, and injustice.

Women of Iran, I stand by you in your decision for a new election if you desire, I stand by you in demanding that your body or spirit not be damaged by one ‘leader’ who refuses to hear the words of those very same people he intends to lead.

Read more about today’s events in Iran from the NY TIMES.

Read more about Leymah Gbowee


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