Showing posts with label Zach Walls. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Zach Walls. Show all posts

Monday, June 18, 2012

Listening to dissidents

Manal Al-Sharif
A woman with the simple demand:
I need to drive in my daily life.
Before coming to Little Rock, I had had dissidents on the brain due to the first award of the Vaclav Havel Award for Creative Dissent. I was moved by Vaclav Havel and his friends' simple desire to live in freedom when I lived in the Czech Republic. Now, a generation later, I was fascinated by the lady who so eloquently described what the simple ability to drive in her daily life would mean to her. I find the idea that anyone would deny her that, unimaginable.
Dan Choi
Former U.S. Army Officer and
American dissident
who worked to end
'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,'
the policy demanding gays lie about their identity
while serving their country
I thought about Dan Choi, the gay West Point-educated Arab linguist, who had the simple desire to serve his country in the American military. He was discharged under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" for being gay at a time when our country could have used every single Arab linguist available.
Elizabeth Eckford's dignified and quiet demand:
"I want to go to a good school."
Live in freedom and safety, drive, serve one's country. Another simple wish from history, this time from Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957: go to a good school. Regular people asking their society to grant them dignity and equality. It's stunning what humanity puts them through when they ask for it.
Global Dissident Eve Ensler
demanding that people
all over the world
rise up and change the global paradigm
on violence against women.
Who are the dissidents pushing buttons in your country or culture? If they are pushing for change and meeting resistance, what is they want that seems so outlandish? How do you and I evaluate whether or not our own attitudes are on the right side of history? For example, I find the American political party, the Tea Party, often 'pushes my buttons.' But if you boil down their demands to one thing, "live within our means as a nation," that doesn't seem outlandish, does it?

I always want to make sure I'm on the right side of history. Their single demand deserves respect in my book, even though I don't always agree with how to get there.
6th generation Iowan and Eagle Scout
Zach Walls
demanding the State not discriminate
against his family
I leave you with the message of one last dissident asking for respect. He's from my home state of Iowa. All he wanted, was for Iowa lawmakers not to write discrimination against his parents into the State of Iowa constitution. His name is Zach Walls. Seems like a simple enough request, doesn't it?

What dissidents 'push your buttons' in your country? Do you agree with their cause or disagree? How do you decide whether or not you are a barrier to progress (one way to look at it) or a steward of traditional values (another way to look at it)? I ask to learn. This difference between these two ways of seeing things is at the heart of so much of our political hearthaches. Let's listen to each other.

I see what the people of Little Rock achieved when they thought of themselves as "us:" together they built the most beautiful high school in the United States of America the year it was built. When they chose to think of themselves as "us" and "them" what did they achieve?
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