Did you get to watch Malala’s speech to the UN last week? If you don’t have 17 minutes — or somehow don’t know who this astonishing 16-year-oild girl is (oh! the one shot in the head by the Taliban for demanding that girls be allowed to go to school!) — here’s the story. And here’s the transcript.
. . . I remember that there was a boy in our school who was asked by a journalist, “Why are the Taliban against education?” He answered very simply. By pointing to his book he said, “A Talib doesn’t know what is written inside this book.” They think that God is a tiny, little conservative being who would send girls to the hell just because of going to school. The terrorists are misusing the name of Islam and Pashtun society for their own personal benefits. Pakistan is peace-loving democratic country. Pashtuns want education for their daughters and sons. And Islam is a religion of peace, humanity and brotherhood. Islam says that it is not only each child’s right to get education, rather it is their duty and responsibility. . . .
Who says there’s no hope for the future in the Muslim world? “One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world.”
I don’t want to take more than 17 minutes of your day — or even the three minutes it would take you to read the transcript. So today’s post may be tomorrow’s post as well. (Summertime . . . and the living is laaaaaaazy.) But I spent the weekend with a former Navy SEAL who served for 20 years, deployed 13 times, awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star — a completely amazing woman! She was Chris — a man — at the time (much of it with a giant beard to blend in with the locals), but always knew she was a woman trapped inside a man’s body. It sounds weird, condensed like that, but when you read the full story, as I did Saturday — and understand that perhaps a million of your countrymen-and-women are faced with similar gender dysphoria — you find yourself pleased but not at all surprised when his boss and mentor, former SEAL and astronaut (commander of Expedition 1, the first crew on the International Space Station), Bill Shepard, reacted as he did when Chris broke the news he was now Kris:
“You know I’ve been depressed and struggling with PTSD for a while now and I have some other issues as well,” Chris said and after a brief hesitation he spit it out, “I also have a gender identity disorder.”
Shep paused in silence and then answered, “Chris, you know I love you like a son! With all you’ve done for our country, your dozens of tours and all you’ve done for me, you do whatever you need to.”
“Okay, thanks boss!” Chris answered, his voice breaking with emotion.
“Listen Chris, why don’t you come in later this afternoon and we can talk things over,” Shep suggested.
“Uh, Shep,” Chris answered, hesitating a few seconds, “I can come in, but I’m wearing a dress.”
“I don’t care if you were wearing a clown suit! I care what’s inside.”
Later that day, Shep smiled seeing Chris in a very demure yet elegant dress when they met outside the restaurant.
“Chris you look really good. You look happy!” Shep exclaimed. And pulling open the door Shep added with a half smile, “Ladies first!”
The emails from fellow SEALs are equally great. E.g.: “Brother, I am with you… Being a SEAL is hard. This looks harder. Peace.”
It’s a very short book . . . (inexplicably, un-copyedited) . . . and a very brave woman . . . and heart-warming (if you ask me): at the end of the day, we’re all just doing our best. Or most of us are, anyway. Chris/Kris certainly has been. And we’re all in this together.
Quote of the Day
I do count my blessings, but then I end up counting those of others who have more and better blessings, and that pisses me off.~Bob Mankoff New Yorker cartoon caption
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