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No woman’s dignity was ever restored or raised through death or destruction in her name. Our dignity is restored when all human beings seek to create, to lessen other’s burdens, to accept each other exactly as we are, to hold in high esteem our uniqueness and not attempt to turn us into a ‘spoil’ of war!

In response to the article, “DOES WAR PROMOTE THE DIGNITY OF AFGHAN WOMEN?” [By Javed Akbar, The Canadian Charger, May 20, 2009] – This is an excellent article, which provokes many questions besides the primary question held in the title.

Does war of any kind promote dignity to either men or women, in any country at any time? Some of the points raised in the article speak to the reduction of women to property. This property seems to have no voice and requires protection from someone. We are speaking of one half of the human race. By virtue of the fact that we agree that the human race is made up of male and female in every race, creed, colour, genetic makeup etc. then reduction of one half to a position of property, or less in any way, must in fact reduce all. How could we exclude?

Of course we know that many people, male and female, still seem able to judge others as more or less by using a variety of criteria, gender, skin colour, religious affiliation etc. So while this article points to the fact that women in Afghanistan have been used as a ‘reason’ or justification for war, there really is never a justification for war. There is only an opinion of justification for anything, including war.

It is my opinion that any attempt to overrule another’s basic human right, reduces all of us to nothing more than property, to be won or lost by other property.

It would seem that humanity declared a zest for war and all things associated with it many eons ago. It is a lucrative business for some. It is costly for the masses. It also appears that some of humanity has now lost the passion for war and therefore the reasons for it no longer seem valid, nor honourable, nor necessary.

Canadian politicians were very quick to declare their abhorrence for the new law in Afghanistan, while at the very same time they were reducing women’s rights in Canada.

I wrote an article regarding the state of affairs with regard to women in Canada; it’s posted on my blog -http://web.mac.com/whelancosten/iWeb/Site/Blog/089E0E1D-348D-4054-A2AC-2E7123863E5A.html

No one is equal unless all are equal!  There can be no real and lasting peace until we all have peace…the enemy is not over there anywhere, it is always within…there really is nothing to fear but fear…

The question of ‘women’s dignity’ is never as exclusive as this statement. When women are not valued, neither are men. When men are determined to kill other men to honour a woman or all women, they become thieves stealing the life-breath of another. When men are killed or maimed they cannot provide for their families. When their children are killed or maimed the family again carries the burden, not the perpetrator. How can any society ask its masculine aspect to become the villain, to cover themselves in the blood of others, to destroy and harm, in some vile attempt to raise up their women? We ask men to become our ‘heroes’ by killing others, we pin medals on their chests while they carry the pain of death and destruction in their hearts. How can this be a pursuit we endorse?

The article speaks to the West promoting their ideals of women’s freedom to wear whatever they like and the oppression of women who are forced to wear the Burka, but either of these situations are oppression, if it is forced upon the person by law or by custom. Western women are forced by societal pressure, (not law, but just as damaging) to dress according to the marketing trends, if Western women chose to cover their bodies completely, there would be a disaster in the fashion industry. We too are in a prison of sorts. We too are told we do not measure up. If we follow the money we can see that no war is necessary in the west, because the economy flows with fashion, beauty products, cosmetic surgery, drugs, diet pills and products etc. all of which declare ‘women are not good enough as nature created them’ and to some extent we are allowing it to happen to men as well. We are buying our way to some sort of equality in the workplace, in our homes and greater society while Afghan women are being told they are the reason for war! Neither is true.

Afghan women are victimized every time their husband, fathers, sons and daughters pay the price for war, the disease that flows with war, the hatred that grows in the hearts of humanity as the stain of war. While Western women are also victimized by war, the same war in fact. Our sons, daughters, husbands and fathers are riding off to fight and kill and coming home with the stain of hatred in their hearts and minds.

How is dignity ever a by-product of war? Yes indeed there have been times in our history when genocide was taking place, and still is in parts of the world, and that requires intervention. Not war. Perhaps it requires a simple decision to stop arming those who use weapons against humanity. Without the weapons how does a war take place?

Women’s dignity is not going to be raised when we kill in her name! By dictionary definition:

dig·ni·ty n

1.a proper sense of pride and self-respect

2.seriousness, respectfulness, or formality in a person’s behavior and bearing

3.the condition of being worthy of respect, esteem, or honor

4.the respect or honor that a high rank or position should be shown

Women give life, they nurture it and feed it, they create within their womb, just as mother earth does. As we continue to justify our need to destroy, to contaminate mother earth, to ask women to carry the burden of giving life into a world that does not value life, as long as we accept the illusion that promotes or endorses the taking the life of another and attempts to twist the meaning of that theft into something justified and necessary, we will never have dignity for women or men. Women do not fight for their dignity, nor can they really ask another to do so. It is our inherent right. It just is. We are part of creation. Mother earth will not be asking someone to stand up for her dignity, she takes it. If we are vile enough to ignore her basic right to be respected, she will simply roll over, erupt or wave a wind our way. It is the same for humanity. She has been very patient with us and our abuse, and in a similar nature, I suspect when women have had enough of war, it will stop.

The truth is many human beings have evolved. Many recognize that war, carnage, death and destruction is contrary to our very nature and that we cannot carry this negative energy any more. We see that greed is behind the issues of war, that lies are told in order to appeal to our sympathetic nature and defend something or someone against an enemy. That enemy does not have to exist in reality as long as it exists in our mind.

No woman’s dignity was ever restored or raised through death or destruction in her name. Our dignity is restored when all human beings seek to create, to lessen other’s burdens, to accept each other exactly as we are, to hold in high esteem our uniqueness and not attempt to turn us into a ‘spoil’ of war! Women are not the justification for war and men ought not believe it is their duty to kill or annihilate to restore our honour. Any woman who asks a man to kill in her name, for her honour or her rights, is not being true to her feminine nature. Canadian men have not always treated their women with the utmost respect either. We did not have the right to vote until we,(women) decided we wanted it and stood up for ourselves.

As a mother I do not want my son, husband or any man to take the life of another woman’s son, daughter, father, husband in order to make me feel respected. It could never have that effect. In fact I would feel the burden of that death, or those many, many deaths on my soul –it would never give me freedom, rather it would imprison me in the hell of shame, pain and hate.

Taking the life of another, corrupting the land, the water, the air, is not part of the feminine life force, it is not part of the masculine either. However it is the natural act of men to protect the feminine; therefore it is the natural act for women to take back their dignity without force, but with love and to express what it is that we desire in order to create a better world. We must be clear, we must be firm and we must not tolerate being used to validate or soothe the conscience of those who perpetuate the absurdity of war. The burden is too high – there is a choice!

Written by Catherine Whelan Costen

Freelance writer/political/spiritual activist

May 21, 2009

No one is equal unless all are equal!

There can be no real and lasting peace until we all have peace…the enemy is not over there anywhere, it is always within…there really is nothing to fear but fear…

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