“I love my country, but I would rather live in the West.”
“Because in the West, you are free.” She said simply, as if it were obvious.
She went on to cite examples. Honour killings. Doctors murdered because they could not save their patients. But the most poignant were those six words, “...in the West, you are free.”
I thought later, “This is what we are fighting for. Freedom. Freedom for women to leave their homes without fear. Freedom for members of both genders to get an education. Freedom for them to practice their chosen profession without repercussion.”
But how many of us truly understand that? We take for granted our right to do any of those things. We may be constrained by our circumstances, or people. You may not have enough money to go to the school you want to go to. Your parents may want you to be a surgeon, while you want to be a teacher. But will they actually disown you if you choose to follow your heart’s passion?
And how many of us will be murdered because we practice our profession? The fact is that the number is so miniscule that it need barely be mentioned.
But we still complain at the constraints placed upon us. I wrote an essay once that made the claim that we are never truly free. I still believe this. Freedom is as much a state of mind, as it is a state of being.
I do not mean to say that by believing yourself to be free, you are free. A boy in Iran could believe he is free, while a girl in LA believes she is not. Which of them is correct? The boy in Iran who is allowed to wear eyeliner without being harassed? Or the girl in LA who believes herself constrained by society’s standards of dress?
The example seems silly, and maybe it is. But that does not make it untrue. What are we fighting for? Are we fighting for the right of Hollywood to tell us how to dress? No. We are fighting for the right to choose how we dress. The right to choose our profession. The right to practice said profession without fear.
We are the bastion of hope. People the world over believe this, and we fail them when we forget, when we lay down our arms, or when we refuse to speak out.