Mahsa Amini—do you know the name? She is the young woman who died in Iran while in custody of the morality police. Women and men in Iran have been protesting in her name ever since. The challenge for the rest of us is staying present in our hearts and minds with those fighting for freedom when the news cycle shifts. We are witness to a lot of that lately, that is freedom fighting, as the war in Ukraine rages on with Ukrainians inspiring us by their resolve for freedom.
I was fortunate enough to talk with a few colleagues of Iranian heritage who shared their perspective on the fight for freedom. They shared what it was like to grow up in an environment they described as repressive. Just trying to engage in typical childhood activities, like playing basketball, in a hijab was not easy. They shared how they experienced trauma that they still carry with them today. For some of us, the sound of our military actively practicing at a nearby base is the sound of freedom— recognizing what our military does for us. Contrarily, for my colleagues, this sound evokes memories of war. This illustrates how differently each of us can experience the same event. Every day, we are in community with others that will experience life from a different vantage point than our own. It is imperative that we remain open to where others have been and how they are experiencing the world.
The vulnerability they shared with me in that conversation changed me, as most vulnerable conversations do. Hearing their truth, their concern for their families who are actively resisting the current regime and their expressed need for support reminds me how we so need each other. We sometimes operate as though our pain and struggle is not connected. But, it is connected. As we continued, we both acknowledged how the feelings were not very different than what many felt when George Floyd was murdered—furious and traumatized, yet simultaneously proud of the community for standing up for justice.
Many years ago, Bebe Campbell Moore wrote a cleverly titled book loosely based on the murder of Emmett Till, called Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine. In it, she wove together the stories of different characters with vastly different experiences related to the unjust killing of a young black man in the South. Though everyone was affected in different ways, they were all enduring similar pain and hurt. Much like the characters in her book, we seem to be struggling to see the similarities in the pain and hurt that exists in our own lives and of those around us. It is more important now than ever before to detect those similarities, acknowledge them and support each other through them.
Mahsa Amini, I am saying your name. I will not forget you and I stand with those that are standing up for freedom in honor of the loss of your young life. I invite others to join me in the comments by saying your name and the chant now heard around the world: Woman, Life, Freedom or زن زندگی آزادی
This will remind us and others that you will not die in vain and send a message to those who are fighting to keep fighting. You, and every girl like you, are worth it.
Our theme song is “United We Stand” by Brotherhood of Man.