The problem is that they live in a community where girls aren't really allowed to dream. And if they do dare to dream, they'd better keep it quiet because if the wrong people find out there are bound to be problems.
Teen girls who were the stars of their family with big dreams and big plans for their future, abducted and taken as "wives" to militants. Can you imagine how their lives have changed since that horrible, unfathomable night? I cannot even begin to imagine. The horrors they endure. The fear they feel. The pit in their stomachs as they try to imagine a lifetime of this.
Read this article. Or this one. Go ahead and take a few minutes.
You're back? Does your stomach hurt? Are you pissed off? Do you feel rage? I do. We all should. Collectively, as a community and a country and a world we should be outraged. Individually, as a woman and a mother, daughter, friend, teacher I am outraged.
Why does this keep happening to our girls? The girls who quietly obey the customs of their family and their country and the girls who speak out and dare to dream. All girls are at risk of sexual mutilation and rape and slavery and abduction and murder and oppression embedded within a world that sees us as disposable. Something to be bought and sold and tossed out with the trash.
My 7-year-old is putting newspaper on the floor so she can paint my toenails. She picked gold and pink and blue polish and the first foot she painted looks obnoxiously beautiful because she did it especially for me. Her big problem is getting her feelings hurt and being worried about finishing co-op and not seeing her favorite co-op friends as often. These feel like big problems to her. She was up late crying and I was up late rubbing her hair and hugging her and helping her through big feelings.
As much as I wish she wasn't hurting, the fact is that these are the things little girls should be worrying about. How will my life change this summer? What's coming next in my life? How do I handle it if a friend hurts my feelings?
She has no idea what other people fear. She has no idea what other people endure.
And for that I am immensely thankful and for that I feel immense guilt. I am sick that there is a place where this happens and that there are mamas who have these worries deep in their guts and fresh on their minds all of the time. Mamas and girls who get the message loud and clear: If you dare to dream, we will hunt you down and kill your dream and try to scare the dream out of others.
My toes are painted now. My daughter ran outside to play baseball with her little brother. I sit here and type these useless words. It's what I do when my heart sings with sweetness and also when my soul retches on the world's ugliness. It's how I try to make sense of things in my brain. But some things just can't make sense, no matter how many words I use.
What is our answer to the world's brutality when girls are taken and the world is silent even as their parents cry out for help and answers and their girls back?
Let's give our daughters the room to dream. Let's teach our boys to respect our daughters. Let's write checks to fund schools in countries where dreaming can be deadly. Let's travel to countries to teach girls and boys to read and write. Let's pray. Let's donate to organizations whose mission is to empower girls and keep them safe. Let's sponsor kids. Let's not keep silent when we hear of atrocities in our neighborhood and in our schools and in our country and around the globe.
We can't all do all of these things. But we can each do at least one of them.