Post 59 #Coronavirus and a global perspective on…

some good books we’ve read recently.

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 59. 

Listen to this…

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

I love books!! I love to read them and I love listening to them. If the narrator is good, you can be entertained by the performance as well as the story.

A few months ago, when we were able to go out and browse through the bookstores, I saw a book being sponsored by the Jenna Bush Book Club. Jeez! I thought everyone and their mother has a book club now. But I was curious enough to see what Jenna was recommending.

The book is called This Woman is no Man and, to my surprise, it is about a Palestinian family who emigrated from Palestine to Brooklyn, NY, for a better life.

A book about my people! I was overjoyed and excited. I put it on my reading list. I finally listened to it in April during the shutdown.

I really liked This Woman is No Man. And as a first novel by the author, it was terrific. However, I was upset at first because it follows a traditional Palestinian family of refugees and describes the cultural stigma of spousal abuse and male domination. What? Another book stereotyping how backward Arabs are? This is not how I grew up. Most Arab-American women I know are strong, independent, and successful.

But when I started to talk about it to others I began to see how important it is for this abusive behavior to be exposed. Spousal abuse happens in every culture. Even in Anglo America, some forward-thinking families treat women as inferior to men.

I then watched the series called Unorthodox on Netflix about Hasidic Jews and their treatment of women. Basically, women are bred to be married off as young as 17 to an arranged suitor, and are expected to be nothing but a vessel for making children. Specifically a male heir.

Many cultures still follow these antiquated traditions. Even the royalty in Europe have used arranged marriages to cultivate their heirs and gain power in other countries (until Prince Harry married Megan Markle).

So the bottom line is this: no woman, regardless of religion, social status, or cultural traditions should be abused, beaten, or treated as an inferior.

There have to be more safety nets in America for these women. Many are afraid and do not know their rights. They are threatened with death or even have their children forcibly taken away by the “male elders.”

So I applaud this Palestinian-American author (Etaf Rum) for having the courage to write about her community in Brooklyn, which ironically is where the Hasidic Jewish community also reside.

Abuse of women is truly a universal problem that we cannot turn a blind eye to. I highly recommend Etaf Rum’s new novel.

Photo credit: Kate Ter Harr, flickr.
No copyright infringement intended.

We have it pretty good

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

I realize I’ve been kind of complaining about my lockdown situation (which seems to be getting extended in Spain). The reality for most of us is that we don’t have it so bad. Sure, our movement is restricted, we have to wear face masks, and travel is just not an option now. Some of us have lost jobs; many of us have lost security; and some have lost loved ones.

Guess who has it worse?

Child soldiers.

I’m not talking about the thousands of #Syrian children who were recruited to fight a war that was not theirs. No, tonight I’m writing about a child soldier who, to me, represents ALL children who are recruited to fight the battles of bloodthirsty authoritarians whose lust for money and power make them forget the sanctity of life.

Today my hero is Ishmael Beah, who was recruited as a 12-year-old soldier in Sierra Leone in 1993. His book, A Long Way Gone, describes his incredible – and atrocious – journey through war-torn villages to his current place of residence.

Here’s a little hint about how powerful this book is:

“Setting the body on the ground, I start to unwrap it, beginning at the feet. All the way up to the neck, there are bullet holes. One bullet has crushed the Adam’s apple and sent the remains of it to the back of the throat. I lift the cloth from the body’s face. I am looking at my own.”

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
Ishmael Beah

I know we think we have it bad. We’re obsessed with the new “normal” versus the old normal and what habits to change, what to keep, how to behave, and how to adjust. We amuse ourselves with thoughts of where we’ll go first, what we’ll eat, what we’ll buy as soon as “the #Coronavirus is over.”

Read this book, please. A Long Way Gone tells Ishmael’s story, but he could be describing a million child soldiers all over the world who have managed to survive seemingly endless, senseless conflicts. Who continue to live through the ravages of war. Beah brings home stories of wars that we usually think are “over there” – distant lands that many of us couldn’t place on a map. As long as “over there” is not in our own back yard, we can barely imagine them.

Well, we need to pay more attention. The world is getting smaller, and injustices “over there” may one day be our “over here.” That thought makes our current CoronaBlues seem a little less tragic.

Luckily for Ishmael Beah, he was rescued by UNICEF at the age of 16. He went on to accomplish great things in life, including setting up a foundation to support the reintegration of child soldiers into society. Another accomplishment: writing this heart-wrenching book.

He now lives in Brooklyn, NY.

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