Thursday, September 9, 2010

Beyond the 11th

I opened my mailbox this morning to a really wonderful op-ed by Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times. It opened with the following:

This weekend, a Jewish woman who lost her husband in the 9/11 attacks is planning to speak at a mosque in Boston. She will be trying to recruit members of the mosque to join her battle against poverty and illiteracy in Afghanistan.

Other memorable quotes in the article were:

Devastated themselves, they realized that there were more than half a million widows in Afghanistan — and then, with war, there would be even more. Ms. Retik and Ms. Quigley also saw that Afghan widows could be a stabilizing force in that country.


So at a time when the American government reacted to the horror of 9/11 mostly with missiles and bombs, detentions and waterboardings, Ms. Retik and Ms. Quigley turned to education and poverty-alleviation projects — in the very country that had incubated a plot that had pulverized their lives.


The organization they started, Beyond the 11th, has now assisted more than 1,000 Afghan widows in starting tiny businesses. It’s an effort both to help some of the world’s neediest people and to fight back at the distrust, hatred and unemployment that sustain the Taliban.

To me, these women and their actions constitute the most sane and humane way to deal with what happened on 9/11. While I do feel conflicted about the war in Afghanistan, I have to think that if we all contributed in the way these women have, against tragedy, without hate and violence -- we'd have less of it. I can sit here on this blog and offer my opinions -- opinions that anger some and that others agree with, I can talk and talk, here and on the phone, with my friends and elsewhere, but do I really contribute in any other way than talking and believing, nodding my head when I agree and shaking it when I don't? 

What is real engagement? In the world? In one's corner of the world?

I'm thinking about these things today.

You can read the rest of the Op-Ed  HERE.


  1. Elizabeth,

    I will try to be very civil. Do you really believe peaceful protest works any where in the world when dealing with armed fanatics? Can you give me an example where peaceful protest worked in a totalitarian state. How is the popular unrest in Iran doing these days? What was the name of the girl shot dead in the street?
    If you think Muslum men are going to give up their way of life so a women can have an equal life I believe you are severly miss guided.

    I do have a question of the liberal minded. We are fighting in Aftghanistan under Obama, Gitmo is open under Obama, we are still killing in Iraq under Obama, the CIA still has secret prisons under Obama.

    Where is the protest in the streets? Where is the protest on Hollywood Blvd? How many Americans died in Aftghanistan last week? Why no mention of Haliburton? Or Detainees??? Where is the anger from the left?

    To quote the Beatles "All ya need is love"......but they only lasted for nine years because they could not get along.

  2. On a light note, I gave you an AWARD on my blog today. xoxo

  3. I think Dave is missing your point.

    I, however, am not.


  4. Dave,
    Over here in the UK we protested in our thouasnads that we did not want to go to war in Iraq, every opinion poll said the majority of people did not want war. Every opinion poll that has come out since has said that we do want to be at war in Iraq. We were ignored by our politicians then and we have been ignored by our politicians over Afganistan too.

    You are right - the Muslim men who are in control now do not want to give up their hold on power. But we put them there - your country and mine, and before that the USSR and beofre that...... we could go on and on, but originally these countries had cultures that were theirs and not polluted Islamism tha has had a chance to rise becasue WE created the power vacuum 50 or 80 or 90 years ago that set this whole sh*t-train in motion.

    In light of that, maybe the most powerful action we can take is to ignore the politicians seeing as they have not honoured their responsibility to represent us and to take matters into our own hands. If there are now 100 women with their own businesses where 10 years ago there were none and if that means that their daughters have been educated and their sons have seen a different side to womanhood than what is portrayed in the mainstream in their country, and if this process takes years, generations even. It will still have been more powerful than the army and the politicians.

  5. And I am thinking as well. Just before checking in with you, I found an e-mail entitled "Never Forget" and it was a photo collage of NYC and 9/11. Well, I won't but I will continue to move on and hope for education rather than arms. Education, in the end, will prevail. It will be slow but not nearly as bloody and costly. I could say more but "Annicles" has said it, quite well, for me.


  6. It is all about making choices to do the honest best you can each and every day. These women Kristof writes about are doing that. What else can they do once they see this is the best they can do? Life entangles us and we can't always be addressing the "big" problems. But, I'm willing to bet that if we have to solve important things locally we would (are) all be stepping up to the plate.

  7. Wow Dave, you are so very right. The world is ruled by hate so let's just all hate each other since it's just.....inevitable.

    So instead of looking for a peaceful out, I'm going to join the Reverend Terry Jones on the Saturday 'burn a Koran day'. That should make it all better.

    After all, since the Beatles didn't make it, what chance do the rest of us have?

  8. Dave, I've deleted your second comment as it, once again, is rude and antagonistic. Think "conversation" -- not "anger" directed at people directly who are expressing themselves freely. And please don't continue to attack those from other countries who comment on the blog because they are from other countries.

  9. «Do you really believe peaceful protest works any where in the world when dealing with armed fanatics?»
    From what Elizabeth wrote here and what the NYT op-ed article states, those women are not protesting, they are taking steps to increase literacy and self-sufficiency in Afghanistan. When you consider that most Taliban fighters were "educated" in Saudi-funded, Wahabbism-centered madrassas, what these women and others like them, such as the Central Asia Institute, are doing is actually a very critical first step in combatting the Taliban and Al Qaeda at its root, the children it recruits. And it is difficult to compete with the Madrassas because their backers are very rich.

    Re. the war, Gitmo, Halliburton, etc: if the liberals are guilty of changing their perspective based on the administration in place, the conservatives are JUST AS guilty. Please keep in mind that this opinion comes from someone who identifies with no political party or "side". So my question to you would be: were you out there protesting those things during the Bush administration or did your opinion about them change when the Obama administration took over? Personally, I think people are so busy toeing their party lines, they have forgotten how to think for themselves.

    My feelings about those issues you brought up have been the same regardless of the administration in place. And I have been and continue to communicate my displeasure about them to my congressional reps.

  10. By the way, it was an interesting article, Elizabeth. Sorry to not mention that before.

  11. Elizabeth,

    Could you please point out where I attack Annicles?

    Or perhaps print my response and let others decide. And I say this with all due respect.

    And could somebody point to an example where a peace vigil stopped a tyrant with weapons.

    I think the people of Iraq will live better lives with out Saddamm and his two wonderful sons. But a peace candel would not achieve this.

    I think the people of Cuba would be much better off today if Fidel had dissapeared 30 years ago. JFK voted for this idea before he voted against.

    Maybe I am the crazy one to think if the U.S. had not gotten involved in the war in Europe {rember we were attacked the the Japaneese, why DID we fight in Europe?} the Brits most certainly would be speaking German today.

    This is written with all due respect

  12. This is beautiful Elizabeth. Thank you for letting us know about this amazing woman.

    I've always felt that way too - if one is concerned about terrorism maybe a good thing to do is help with anti-poverty efforts in those regions. That's what first inspired me to do Micro-lending through Kiva, but now it is about that and so much more. Every time loans are paid and it is time to re-lend them, I always check Pakistan and Afghanastan first, to see if any loans are being dispersed to hard working entrepreneurs there.

  13. "Severly Miss Guided" is totally going to be my new roller derby name.

  14. «could somebody point to an example where a peace vigil stopped a tyrant with weapons»
    Again, where in this post do you see mention of peace vigils? This post is about taking a proactive approach to a long-term solution by providing educational and work opportunities.

    «If you think Muslum men are going to give up their way of life so a women can have an equal life I believe you are severly miss guided.»
    Orthographic errata aside, I think I need to reinforce the fact that subjugation of women is not a central tenet to Islam and that not all Muslim men support it. I also point out that men of other beliefs subjugate women as well.

    Regarding Islam in the countries we have invaded, Wahabbism grew out of the madrassas because the educational systems were poor. Families could either send their sons to be educated in them or receive no education. This is the case in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Saddam Hussein implemented free nationwide education for males and females as part of his push toward modernization when he came to power.

    Focusing on Afghanistan and Pakistan, many men would love for their daughters, sisters and wives to receive educations as well. They value education very highly, in some ways much more than Americans. For example, educating their girls was so important to the members of the village where the first school built by the Central Asia Institute was constructed, they gave up a substantial amount of their wealth to a mullah to insure that he would not destroy it, and every able-bodied man in that village willingly helped with its construction.

    I apologize for hijacking your post, Elizabeth. Sometimes, I get a bit carried away in the moment.

  15. Kobico - All hijackings are welcome when they are informative! Thank you --

  16. Dave-
    I agree with you on one point. A peace protest rarely stops a tyrant with weapons. It's been tried here on U.S. soil by U.S. citizens and still "our" government and military go in and take what "we" want when it benefits us. Make no mistake. We do not invade other countries for humanitarian purposes or to protect "democracy". We invade when we WANT something. So we go in and take it. A tyrant with weapons. We're in Iraq for the oil. And that's it.

    Tianeman Square
    Berlin Wall
    Vietnam War

  17. Ignore the second Vietnam please.

    I'm not at all sure the people of Iraq are better off now. No schools. No hospitals. Unreliable electricity. And all sorts of warring factions.

    It's an atrocity that we went in and ruined their country for their oil. Shameful.

    All the hijackers were Saudi. But since we have a beneficial relationship with the Saudi government, that was completely overlooked. Hmmm...

    Sorry Elizabeth. This stuff irks me


  18. Michelle - I agree with you 100%. A whole war built on lies, that killed hundreds of thousands of people and maimed more than that -- well, I still believe it was for nothing. When people argue that soldiers are fighting for my freedom and liberty, well -- I think it's a cop-out -- at least for the Iraq war.



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